Becoming a Counselor in Maine
As a master's level counselor in Maine, you may be eligible for one title or several. School counselors are licensed by the Department of Education. Counselors in several disciplines, including school counseling and rehabilitation counseling, are eligible for credentialing as Licensed Professional Counselors.
With additional coursework, and supervised practice, mental health counselors can become Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors; this allows them to diagnose and treat mental disorders.
Pastoral counselors are licensed separately, but are also licensed through the Board of Counseling Professionals. They may also earn the privilege of diagnosing and treating mental conditions.
Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors are credentialed through the Board of Alcohol and Drug Counselors. A master's is not required, but will reduce the amount of supervised practice that is required after graduation.
High School Student or holding a Diploma/GED in Maine:
Choose any undergraduate major that interests you. Look ahead, though, to know graduate policies. Speak to your career and academic advisors once you begin a baccalaureate degree program. Earning a degree in a counseling related field can open up opportunities for practicum experiences and paid employment. Learn more about counseling and related undergraduate programs here.
A bachelor's degree in Psychology is common preparation for graduate school in the field of counseling.
If you don’t find a program in a behavioral science, you should seek out volunteer opportunities to gain valuable experience for a graduate program application
If you have a Bachelor’s Degree Now:
If you are interested in pastoral counseling, you will need a program that prepares you for ministry (if you have not already had such preparation). In addition to whatever faith-based requirements are in place, you'll need 20 semester hours of coursework that meets the Board's requirements. Coursework include theology and psychology, professional ethics, and either research methods or tests and measurement. You will take additional electives that fit into particular categories identified by the Board. Your program must include a supervised experience of at least 400 contact hours that allows you to minister to people in crisis.
If you are interested in clinical counseling, you should enroll in a mental health counseling program that is at least 60 semester hours in length. Nontraditional areas of counseling are acceptable if they meet all coursework requirements. You will need at least 900 hours of internship.
If you are interested in another professional counseling specialty, you may enroll in a master's program that is at least 48 semester hours in length. Your program may be in rehabilitation counseling or in a nontraditional field like art therapy – again, so long as all of Maine's content requirements are met. For the non-clinical license, the internship requirement is 600 hours.
There are fewer specific requirements for the alcohol and drug counseling designation. If you want career flexibility, though, you may opt for a program that meets professional counseling standards; it is possible to add a certificate in substance abuse counseling.
As a graduate student, you will continue to explore and find out where your strengths and interests lie. There are typically multiple options for internship, and you may decide in conjunction with an adviser.
You may need to apply for candidacy status before beginning clinical work. As long as you are making appropriate progress, this shouldn't be an issue.
You can get a conditional license as a professional counselor or pastoral counselor by passing the licensing exam and filling out required paperwork.
To get full licensure as a clinical counselor or pastoral counselor, you will need to accrue 3,000 hours of supervised experience over a period of at least two years. You will need to have a supervision plan in place. You will need just 2,000 to get the Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor credential.
To become a clinical counselor or attain full licensure as a pastoral counselor, you will need to take as second licensing exam, the NCMHCE.
Licensure as a drug and alcohol counselor requires you to pass the Advanced ADC Examination.
The Board of Counseling Professionals requires references and a professional disclosure statement.