Alabama has two levels of counseling license: associate licensed counselor and licensed professional counselor (LPC). If you fulfill initial licensing requirements in Alabama, you will practice as an associate (ALC) before attaining status as a licensed professional counselor. If you are licensed in another state, you may apply for licensure through endorsement.
The below information serves as a guide to counseling licensure in Alabama. If at any point you have questions or would just like to make sure you are on the right path, contact the Alabama Board of Examiners in Licensing at (205) 458-8716 or 1-800-822-3307.
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The first step is completing a graduate level educational program at a regionally accredited college. The program should be accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE); if not accredited by one of these agencies, it must be the equivalent. At least 48 semester hours (72 quarter hours) of coursework is required. Learn more about selecting a Master's in Counseling program here.
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According to the CACREP site, Alabama has accredited master’s programs in multiple specialties, including mental health counseling and marriage and family counseling. CORE lists five Alabama rehabilitative counseling programs with full accreditation or candidacy status.
The Alabama Board will ask you to document coursework in the following content areas when you apply:
You will also need to document a practicum of at least 100 clock hours (through a regionally accredited school) and an internship of at least 600 clock hours. During the internship, you’ll do the types of duties that an employee would. Your internship must include at least 2 ½ hours per week of supervision, with at least one hour of individual supervision. Direct service requirements are 40 hours for the practicum, 240 for the internship.
Here is a link to the ABEC website where the ALC and LPC application forms can be found: http://www.abec.state.al.us/
When you apply for associate status through the state, you will submit an application that addresses your professional fitness, details your education and clinical experience, and describes your counseling philosophy. You will agree to follow the board’s ethical standards, and you will sign an affidavit and have it notarized. You will also need to request graduate transcripts and ask three professional references to fill out recommendation forms and submit them to the board. At least two must be from professional/ clinical experience supervisors.
You will submit your ALC application with a $200 fee. Later you will pay a separate licensing fee.
Materials should be sent to the following address:
Alabama Board of Examiners in Counseling
950 22nd Street North, Suite 765
Birmingham, Alabama 35203
If you have questions, you can find contact information at http://www.abec.state.al.us/contact.aspx
If your program was accredited by CACREP or CORE, it is assumed that your education met the standards they had in place. Generally, if your program was not accredited by one of these agencies, you document educational equivalency by submitting course syllabi.
If syllabi are unavailable, you may submit alternative documentation that is acceptable to the board. Three documents must be sent. At least one must be an institutional material; at least one must be an applicant material. Applicant materials might include course materials like assignments or reading lists or notarized letters from contemporaries who were subsequently licensed in Alabama. Institutional documents might include course catalogs, letters from professors, or syllabi from classes that you’ve taken since master’s completion (that would need the required coursework as a foundation).
If you are an out-of-state applicant and the board judges that your training was not equivalent, you may be able to practice under a provisional license while fulfilling additional requirements.
According to ABEC, you become eligible to take the licensing exam when you have completed your education, but you may wait until you have fulfilled practice requirements.
As a mental health counselor, you will take the National Counselor Examination through the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). The NBCC reports, in its Alabama supplement, that you must provide an approval letter from the Alabama Board of Examiners in Counseling (ABEC) before you can register for the exam. You will submit a registration form (which you will receive from the state) and a $275 fee along with a copy of the letter.
After you get your confirmation, you may schedule an exam at whatever testing site is most convenient for you. Alabama has testing sites in Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery, Decatur, and Dothan. Testing is generally offered the first two weeks of each month. When you submit the fee, you are given a six month period to schedule. If you have questions about the process, you should send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before you can become licensed as a professional counselor, you will need to fulfill a practice requirement. This entails working under supervision. You will have your supervision plan approved before you begin. A form can be downloaded from the ABEC site.
Education can reduce the number of experience hours required. If you have a master’s, but no additional graduate coursework beyond that, the requirement is 3,000 hours. If you have 15 semester hours of acceptable graduate-level professional counseling coursework beyond your master’s, your practice requirement may be reduced to 2,000 hours. Another 15 hours may reduce it to 1,000 hours. The Code of Alabama requires associates to practice under supervision for at least 1,000 hours before being granted status as licensed professional counselors.
There are minimum hours that must be performed in direct counseling care and in indirect counseling care services. Whether your requirement is 1,000, 2,000, or 3,000 hours, the direct counseling requirement equals three-fourths of the total requirement. The indirect counseling service requirement equals one-fourth of the total.
Normally, supervision is conducted by a supervising counselor, but it may be done by a supervision associate if paperwork is completed beforehand.
An annual supervision report is required. It must show that over the course of the year you received 100 hours of supervision, at least 50 of them individual and face-to-face. If you were supervised for less than a year, it should average two hours a week.
The Alabama Board notes that candidates who are licensed in other states may apply for Alabama licensure through endorsement. The same applies to those licensed in Puerto Rico or U.S. territories. You will be expected to demonstrate that the standards that were in place when you got your license were similar to those that were in effect in Alabama. If you can’t demonstrate equivalency of requirements, you may still be licensed on the basis of equivalent content.
You will need to send an application, curriculum vitae, NCE scores, and a $200 application fee. You must request that your universities send transcripts and your state board send a verification of your license. Three recommendation forms should be sent to the board (at least two of them from supervisors).
You will be placed in one of three academic equivalency categories based on when your license was first issued. If you got your license September 1, 2003 or later, you will need to demonstrate that your master’s program included at least 48 semester hours of coursework. If you got your license between January of 1980 and August of 2003, 30 semester hours will suffice. If you received your license between 1980 and September 1, 1994, you do not need to demonstrate that your coursework covered the current eleven content areas, but do need to show that it included counseling theory, testing and appraisal, and practicum/ internship experience.
Under Alabama code, the requirement for NCE testing may be waived if you have taken an exam judged to be equivalent (http://www.abec.state.al.us/contact.aspx).
As an associate licensed counselor, you must renew your license every year. As a licensed professional counselor, you will renew every two years. In addition to fees, you will submit evidence of continuing education.
LPCs are expected to do 40 formal contact hours every two years. You will be expected to keep your documentation for three years after the renewal period. Beginning in 2012, the board will audit 10% of LPCs.
Generally speaking, continuing education activities must be approved by the NBCC or the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification. If another state has approved the activity, you will need a statement from the board. You may be able to get credit for other events if you submit content outlines, presenter qualifications, and clock hours to the board for approval beforehand (ABEC).
If you are still in High School, hold a High School Diploma/GED, or hold a bachelor's degree, check out suggested steps to take along the path to becoming a counselor in Alabama.
You may contact ABEC by phone at (205) 458-8716 or 1-800-822-3307.Website
To stay current on the profession, you may want to become a member of the Alabama Counseling Association.