Nebraska rehabilitation counselors may hold various credentials, including state licensing. Nebraska has a system of licenses and certifications with licensing representing level and scope of practice, and certification representing a particular discipline (e.g. counseling or social work). A rehabilitation counselor might be licensed as a mental health practitioner and certified as a professional counselor. There are multiple levels of mental health practice license, and it is not necessary to have traditional clinical mental health counseling training to be licensed.
While some rehabilitation counselors do hold state licensing as mental health practitioners, and licensing can increase employment options, some rehabilitation counselors will fall under exemptions described in state statute (http://nebraskalegislature.gov/laws/statutes.php?statute=38-2121). The rehabilitation counselor may still hold some type of credential, for example, national certification as a rehabilitation counselor.
Those who do opt for Licensed Mental Health Practitioner/ Certified Professional Counselor credentialing will complete some requirements under the Provisionally Licensed Mental Health Practitioner credential.
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A graduate degree is required for licensure at either the provisional or professional level (http://dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/pages/crl_mhcs_mental_mentalhealth.aspx). The program must be primarily therapeutic mental health (as defined in state administrative code). The program will either have a recognized program-level accreditation or will be housed in an accredited institution and meet standards set by the state. Nebraska has approved multiple mental health accrediting agencies, but only one that represents the counseling discipline; it is the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
In order to qualify as an approved mental health program, the program must include the following:
The practicum must include at least 300 hours of client contact with at least 150 hours spent providing mental health services face-to-face in a work environment under a qualified supervisor. (An exception is made, however, in the case of practicum experiences that were completed by September 1, 1995.)
To be credited as counseling, a non-CACREP program must be housed in a regionally accredited institution. It must include counseling theory and practicum. Additionally, it must include three semester hours in at least five of the following:
At the LMHP/ CPC level, there are some restrictions in scope of practice such as not being able to diagnose major mental illness independently. A counselor who seeks the higher license, Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner, or LIMHP, will need to pursue a degree that is CACREP-accredited or equivalent. (It is possible to achieve the independent license without completing an equivalent program but only after a much longer experience period: fully ten years.)
A limited number of rehabilitation counseling programs nationwide are CACREP-accredited. Some are combined mental health and rehabilitation counseling. Some are accredited under a new category, clinical rehabilitation counseling. A graduate who seeks LIMHP licensure on the basis of equivalency will need 60 semester hours of education, though some semester hours may be made up post-master. Educational requirements are described in Title 172, Chapter 94 (http://www.sos.ne.gov/rules-and-regs/regsearch/Rules/Health_and_Human_Services_System/Title-172/Chapter-094.pdf) and in the application packet.
The counselor will need to meet additional requirements before full licensure can be awarded. He or she must pass a national counseling examination. The Department has approved the National Counselor Examination (NCE) and the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). Both are administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors.
Pre-approval is required. The candidate will find an exam application on the DHHS website (http://dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/Pages/crl_mhcs_mental_lmhprequire.aspx#Examination) The NBCC will require an eligibility letter as well as registration form and $200 fee. The candidate will issue an ATT which authorizes self-scheduling. There are monthly testing windows. Nebraska sites are located in Lincoln, North Platte and Omaha. The NBCC has provided a Nebraska-specific information page (http://www.nbcc.org/directory/NE).
Full licensure as an LMHP is also dependent on accruing 3,000 experience hours under supervision Counselors who will be completing their experience hours in Nebraska must hold provisional licensing as PLMHPs; the PLMHP will need an assigned qualified supervisor.
In order to be eligible for the LIMHP, a counselor must accrue at least 1,500 hours working with individuals with major mental disorders. Hours can be accrued while licensed as a PLMHP or LMHP.
License applications are available on the DHHS website (http://dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/Pages/crl_mhcs_mental_mentalhealth.aspx#Applications). A counselor can download the mental health practice license and check "certification as a professional counselor".
In-state counselors first apply at the provisional level.
The licensing agency will require an official transcript as well as documentation of practicum/ internship. Graduates of non-CACREP programs will also need to provide course descriptions.
An applicant who has held any health-related or environmental services credential will need to provide credential certification.
At the provisional level, the fee is $125. At the LMHP level, the fee is prorated according to the stage of the application cycle. Fees are listed in the application packet.
Third party rehabilitation counseling certification is granted by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counseling Certification. It can be achieved more quickly by students who opt for rehabilitation counseling programs accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE). However, other master’s level practitioners can achieve the credential after a period of rehabilitation counseling experience.
Once approved, a candidate must pass an examination. Candidate handbooks can be downloaded from the CRCC website (http://www.crccertification.com/pages/eligibility_requirements/69.php).
Licensing information is available from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (http://dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/pages/crl_mhcs_mental_mentalhealth.aspx). Applicants with questions may call 402-471-4970.
Professional associations include the Nebraska Chapter of the International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals (http://www.rehabpro.org/chapters/nebraska) and the Nebraska Counseling Association (http://www.necounseling.org).