In Michigan, the practice of therapeutic counseling is limited to individuals with master's degrees. All states limit some roles and titles to those with graduate education, but some states exempt agency settings.
In order to work in a school setting in Michigan, a person must be licensed through the Department of Education. In order to provide therapeutic counseling services in other settings, a Licensed Professional Counselor credential is needed.
Look ahead! Chances are good that the admissions committee will want to know your professional goals and the life experiences that have shaped them. Unsure? You may want to spend more time in a professional setting. Look into volunteer opportunities in your community.
Use you undergraduate time to explore. You may enter a graduate counseling program with a major in any field. However, some programs have prerequisites, for example, a set number of courses in the behavioral sciences. Learn about undergraduate counseling and related programs here.
Specific programs may have a preference with regard to undergraduate major. If you want to do a specialty in art therapy, for example, you will likely want to major in art, psychology, or a closely related field.
A bachelor's degree in Psychology is common preparation for graduate school in the field of counseling.
Fulfill admission requirements for the programs you are interested in. Utilize your college’s career services and academic advising resources. Alumnus often have very good access to these resources. The GRE may or may not be required. If your undergraduate grades weren't high, good test scores can show that you have academic aptitude. Counseling programs are selective, though they tend to take many factors into account instead of focusing narrowly on academics.
If you are a prospective school guidance counselor, you should enroll in an approved program that includes a practicum. People who are already certified as teachers have the option of selecting either an elementary or secondary school program, but those who are not must enroll in K - 12 programs.
If you will be seeking licensing as a professional counselor, look for a track that interests you. You may select from mental health counseling, rehabilitation counseling, or even college counseling. It is even possible to do an in-state counseling program with a specialty in art therapy. The Board requires that programs be at least 48 semester hours and that they meet specific content requirements.
You aren't necessarily limited to one specialty. Once you have a master's in counseling, you can get a school counseling license with just a little more coursework-- you don't have to start the process all over.
As your program draws to a close, you will begin the professional counseling licensure application process. This takes time. One of the requirements for a professional counseling license is a criminal background check. You can download the form, along with other application materials, from the Board site.
You may test immediately after graduation -- or in some instances, before. If you are applying for the school counselor credential, you will need to take the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification: School Counselor. If you are pursuing an LPC license, you will need to take and pass either the NCE or the CRCC exam at some point. You don't have to do it right away -- it's not a requirement for the limited license. However, many people like to do so as soon as they're eligible. Depending on your school's accreditation, this could be as early as the final semester of the program.
Before you can achieve full licensure as a professional counselor, you will need to accrue 3,000 hours working under supervision. During this time, you will be licensed as a Limited Licensed Professional Counselor. Your scope of duty is the same as it is with full licensure, but you must have a clinical supervisor who provides oversight and consultation. The supervisor must be board approved.