West Virginia rehabilitation counselors are licensed as Licensed Professional Counselors, or LPCs; rehabilitation counseling is among the recognized counseling specialties. West Virginia is among a minority of states that will accept the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) examination for licensing purposes. Other requirements include graduate education and supervised practice.
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The prospective licensee will need to earn a master’s or doctoral degree. The program must hold an acceptable accreditation. Among the referenced accreditations are the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE), and the National Council on Accreditation for Teacher Education (NCATE); CORE is the accrediting agency that has traditionally accredited the rehabilitation counseling specialty. The West Virginia Board also references two regional accrediting agencies, the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), and notes that other comparable accrediting agencies can be accepted.
The total program must be at least 60 semester hours. It must include at least three semester hours in each of the following content areas:
The remaining semester hours are discretionary and may be drawn from a number of approved topics; among them is rehabilitation counseling.
Standards are described in Rule 1 of LPC Legislative Rules (http://wvbec.org/lpclegislativerules/licensingruleseries1.html).
The West Virginia Board will accept any of three licensing examinations: the National Counselor Examination (NCE), the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Examination (CRC), or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE).
The CRC also confers national certification as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, or CRC. Students enrolled in CORE-accredited master's programs sometimes take the CRC as their final examination. The CRCC requires that 75% of the program be complete by the qualifying date. Doctoral students are permitted to register for the examination as soon as academic requirements have been met provided they have had a 600 hour rehabilitation counseling internship that was supervised by a CRC. Other graduates will need at least some work experience before they can qualify for examination.
Candidates can register online (http://www.crccertification.com/pages/forms___fees/70.php). Those who have completed their programs should be prepared to document their internship. There are currently three examination windows per year. The application deadline is four to five months before a testing window. The candidate should be prepared to pay a $385 certification fee.
An individual who submits a license application without having passed an accepted examination will, if qualified, receive approval to take the NCE. A West Virginia candidate cannot register for the NCE directly, though some individuals will have already taken it as graduate students. An approved candidate will submit registration materials and $195 fee to the NBCC. It may take four weeks for an ATT to be issued. Computer-delivered assessments are available two weeks out of the month. Candidates may test in Charleston or Morgantown or at any of more than 400 assessment centers around the nation. The NBCC has provided a page of state-specific information (http://nbcc.org/directory//WV).
Full licensure is granted after a period of supervised work experience. West Virginia requires 3,000 post-master hours or 1,500 post-doctoral hours. No more than 1,500 hours can be credited in one year.
At least half of the credited experience must be direct counseling service. The supervisee will have a pre-approved supervisor. The Board expects at least one supervision hour for every twenty hours of practice. Progress will be reported in quarterly reports.
The practitioner is under Board jurisdiction during this time. He or she must have a professional disclosure statement that lists (among other things) areas of competence.
Prospective LPCs first file paperwork when they are ready to begin supervised practice. The Board website includes a page that includes supervision contracts and other documents for provisional licensees (http://www.wvbec.org/popularforms/provisionallicenseeslpc.html).
LPC applicants will request license application packets from the Board (http://wvbec.org/becominganlpc.html). There is a $30 fee. Requests are generally processed within seven days.
Transcripts must be official copies.
The Board requires three personal references and two professional recommendations; the latter may come from professional counselors, social workers, psychologists, or psychiatrists.
The application package includes an affidavit that will require notarization. The completed application is to be submitted with a $200 fee.
Counselors licensed in states with similar or higher requirements may be eligible for reciprocal licensing. The out-of-state licensee will need to request a reciprocity application packet. He or she should be prepared to submit a certified copy of the license file as well as a transcript and two professional recommendations.
The West Virginia Board of Examiners in counseling can be reached at (800) 520-3852 or (304) 558-5494. Email contacts are available online (http://wvbec.org/allaboutwvbec/contactus.html). License and application questions are to be directed to the Assistant Executive Director.
The LPC is not a requirement for all rehabilitation counseling positions. Some civil service positions will accept a variety of credentials, including either LPC licensing or CRC certification. Information on state positions is available from the West Virginia Division of Personnel (http://www.personnel.wv.gov/Pages/default.aspx).
The West Virginia Counseling Association is the state’s professional organization (http://www.wvcounseling.org).