Some Maine vocational rehabilitation professionals will fall under license exemptions (http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/statutes/32/title32sec13856.html). However, they may find that they have more career options if they pursue licensing as professional counselors.
Governmental employees are exempted from the licensing law, as are vocational and career consultants. The licensing law reads more like a title act than a practice act (http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/statutes/32/title32sec13854.html)
Maine has two professional counseling licenses: Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC). Both credentials are considered ‘independent’ but the scope of practice is different.
Both credentials require a candidate to earn a graduate degree, pass an examination, and complete a period of supervised practice; conditional licensure is granted to individuals who have yet to meet requirements for full licensure.
Requirements for the LPC and LCPC credentials are different at multiple stages, beginning with education. To earn the LCPC, a counselor would need to meet some standards beyond those traditionally required of rehabilitation counselors. However, some Maine rehabilitation counselors do pursue the clinical license.
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The foundation for LPC licensure is a master’s or doctoral degree (http://www.maine.gov/pfr/professionallicensing/professions/counselors/laws.html). The licensing agency will accept accreditation by either the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) or the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). CORE is the agency that has traditionally accredited rehabilitation counseling programs. CORE maintains a directory of accredited programs (http://www.core-rehab.org/AccreditedPrograms).
The licensing agency can also accept programs that are not CORE- or CACREP-accredited if they meet standards described in Board rule. The following content should be included:
The internship experience is to be at least 600 hours. The Board can accept, in lieu of practicum and internship, 700 hours of lawfully obtained supervised experience.
The Board will allow candidates to make up educational deficiencies post-master. The qualifying degree must be, at the minimum, 36 semester hours.
Conditional or full licensure as an LPC depends on passing the National Counselor Examination (NCE), a generalist counseling examination offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. Maine candidates are asked to secure eligibility letters from the Maine Board of Counseling Professionals before registering; there is a request form included in the application package. Candidates will submit $195 along with their eligibility confirmation and registration form. They will then wait for an ATT that authorizes scheduling through Pearson VUE. Maine has two assessment centers, located in Bangor and Westbrook. Registration information can be found on the ‘Maine’ page of the NBCC website (http://www.nbcc.org/directory/ME). Some candidates may have taken the NCE as students; the Board will need official verification of results.
The counselor will need to work under supervision for a minimum of two years in order to achieve full licensure. During this time, he or she must accrue 2,000 hours of experience with no fewer than 1,000 hours spent in direct counseling. The conditional licensee will need at least 67 hours of supervision from an approved supervisor.
The LCPC credential is dependent on completing fully 60 semester hours of graduate coursework. If the degree was earned through any other than a CACREP-accredited mental health counseling program, the graduate will need to verify completion of coursework in 10 Board-identified core content areas; the Board will also look for coursework in two of eight additional counseling-related content areas. Coursework requirements are similar to those at the LPC level. However, the applicant must have a course in diagnosis and treatment. ‘Career and lifestyle development’ appears on the list of additional content areas, along with options such as addictions counseling and supervision. At the LCPC level, a student is expected to have had 900 hours of internship. However, the Board will consider other supervised experience that was earned lawfully.
The student may complete a clinical rehabilitation program or rehabilitation and mental health program that holds CACREP and CORE accreditation. However, there are other options. The licensing agency can credit supplemental coursework that was taken post-degree.
Generally, a graduate applies for conditional LCPC licensing only if he or she will be in a position that includes diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. The Board requires 3,000 hours of supervised practice; at least 1,500 are to be direct client contact. A counselor may complete the requirement in as little as two years. The licensing agency places limits on the number of times a conditional license can be renewed.
The prospective clinical counselor will also need to pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) before full licensure can be granted. The NCMHCE is also under the banner of the NBCC; the registration process is similar to the registration process for the NCE.
Application materials can be downloaded from the website of the State of Maine Professional and Financial Regulation (http://www.maine.gov/pfr/professionallicensing/professions/counselors/license_types.html).
Applicants are asked to read the licensing law and regulations.
The applicant should request that transcripts be sent directly from the academic institution.
The Board will also require three references.
The applicant will need to compose a proposed disclosure statement. A sample is included in the application packet.
A proposed supervision plan is due at the conditional level. The supervisory affidavit is due when the applicant requests full licensure.
The applicant will include the initial license fee as well as the $25 application fee and $21 criminal record check fee. The fee for a conditional license is $200; for full licensure, it is $250.
Applications can be mailed or hand delivered to the Board office in Gardiner; two addresses are included in the application package.
Applicants who have held licenses in other states will submit a verification of licensure form.
An out-of-state counselor may be licensed on the basis of having met substantially similar requirements or having practiced under an equivalent license for at least five years prior to application. Those applying on the basis of equivalent requirements are asked to provide a copy of the other state’s licensing law and rules; if an LCPC license is sought, this should include scope of practice.
Employers often desire third party certification through the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (https://www.crccertification.com/). A master's student who chooses a CORE-accredited program will have a shorter path.
Information about counseling licensure is available from the Office of Licensing and Registration (http://www.maine.gov/pfr/professionallicensing/professions/counselors/index.html). The Office can be reached at (207) 624-8674.
The Maine Counseling Association is an additional professional resource (http://www.maineca.org).