Counseling Licensure Process in Colorado - The LPC Requirements
Colorado has a mandatory practice act. You can become a Licensed Professional Counselor in Colorado through education, examination, and supervised practice. You will turn in an application to the Division of Professions and Occupations (http://cdn.colorado.gov/).
If you are getting a counseling license for the first time in Colorado, you will work as a Professional Counselor Candidate while fulfilling experience requirements.
The information below is a guide for counseling licensure in Colorado, however, it is a good idea to contact the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies Mental Health Licensing Section to make sure you are on the right path or if you have specific questions regarding your application. Phone: (303) 894-7745
Select a topic below...
- Education requirements
- The application process
- Supervised practice requirements
- Documenting your experience
- Testing process
- I am a licensed counselor in another state
- Contact information and Schools Offering Counseling Degree Programs.
Licensed Professional Counselor Required Education
You will need education at the master’s or doctoral level (http://www.dora.state.co.us/mental-health/lpc/). Your program must either be CACREP-accredited or substantively equivalent.
Capella University, offers three online CACREP- accredited master's programs: Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Marriage and Family Therapy, and School Counseling. Click here to contact Capella University and request information about their programs.
Chicago, IL based Northwestern University offers another option for an online M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling modeled after CACREP's guidelines. Click here to contact Northwestern University for information about the program. (*This program is NOT available to students in WA, NV, MN, WI, AR, LA, AL, KY, NC, DE, MD, NH)
The board will consider various factors when determining equivalency. The school should be regionally accredited and have a coherent, recognizable counseling program with full-time faculty. There should be an identifiable group of matriculated students. Students should be evaluated and graded.
Master’s programs should include at least 48 semester hours (or 72 quarter hours) of coursework, and doctoral programs at least 96. (Those who earned degrees before September 1, 1992, though, are not held to this rule.)
The program should include supervised fieldwork totaling at least 700 hours.
Students whose programs didn’t meet the above requirements may make up as many as six semester hours by taking graduate courses for credit through a regionally accredited school or CACREP-accredited program.
Programs must include coursework in the following areas:
- Helping relationships
- Human growth and development
- Research and evaluation
- Lifestyle and career development
- Professional orientation
- Social/ cultural foundations
If you earned your degree before September 1, 1992, you should have at least seven of the eight in the above list.
You will get a degree evaluation through the Center for Credentialing and Education to establish equivalency. You will need to furnish institutional documents to establish equivalency. You may call CCE at 1-888-817-8283 or visit cce-global.org/Prof/Apps.
The Application Process
Generally, you will submit your application before fulfilling practice requirements. The board will hold it for up to five years while you complete them. When you turn in your application, you may simultaneously apply for registration as a Professional Counselor Candidate. Click Here to find the application materials you need.
- You will complete a health care professions profile at http://www.dora.state.co.us/hppp.
- You will complete an affidavit of eligibility that verifies your right to work in Colorado.
- If your name is different than it was when you got your supporting documents, you’ll also provide a legal document (for example, a marriage certificate).
- You will send a transcript that includes the date you earned your degree.
- You will write a check or money order to cover processing fees. You should make it out to “State of Colorado”.
You should send materials to the board at Division of Registrations, Office of Licensing—Licensed Professional Counselor, 1560 Broadway, Suite 1350, Denver, CO 80202.
After you graduate, you’ll need to work under supervision for a specified period. How long depends on your educational level – the requirement is 2,000 hours of post-master’s work or 1,000 hours of post-doctoral work. If you’re completing 2,000 hours it needs to be spread out over a period of at least 2 years; if you’re completing 1,000 hours, it needs to be spread out over a twelve month period. The board requires that the supervision that you receive also be spread out in time.
Your supervisor may be a licensed counselor, social worker, or marriage and family therapist. Psychologists and psychologists are also allowed to be supervisors – as are other professionals that the board may determine have met similar requirements. You may have multiple supervisors during your supervision period.
You’ll need at least 50 hours of supervision for every 1,000 hours. 35 must be face-to-face supervision.
If you teach applied psychotherapy, this can count for up to 600 hours of your post-master’s requirement (or up to 300 hours of your post-doctoral requirement – provided you do indeed have supervision by an acceptable professional. You may fulfill up to 30 hours of your post-master’s supervision (or 15 hours of your postdoctoral supervision) requirement by teaching under supervision.
You will make a copy of the "Post-Degree Experience and Supervision Form" for each supervisor, which can be found here: http://cdn.colorado.gov. You will fill out the top. Your supervisor will verify your experience and supervision and sign. S/he will need to initial any changes made on the form (including crossing out or use of corrective fluid). The form submitted must include an original signature – no photocopies. The signature can be obtained, at the earliest, on the last day that supervision and observation took place.
You must take two exams. One is the National Counselor Examination administered by the NBCC. The other is a jurisprudence exam. The jurisprudence exam is an open-book exam. It can be downloaded by clicking here. The board notes to make sure you have the most recent version.
You will take the National Board for Certified Counselors exam at your choice of testing centers. As a candidate for Colorado licensure, you apply directly to the NBCC. You may do so as early as the last semester of your program. If you pass the exam, your scores are good for five years.
You may visit the NBCC at http://www.nbcc.org/.
Out of State Applicants
You may apply for a reciprocal license if you’re licensed elsewhere and you meet certain requirements.
- Education: You must have a master’s degree from an accredited counseling program (or a doctoral degree from a program that is considered equivalent.
- Experience: You can meet the experience requirement in several ways. If you completed two years of post-master’s supervised practice or one year of post-doctoral supervised practice, you meet the requirement. You can also meet it through work experience: by averaging at least 20 hours a week of practice over the entire time that you were licensed and having no gaps of more than six months. (If you’ve taught professional counseling, those hours are counted – up to 1/3 of the total requirement.)
- Good legal and professional standing: Your license may be denied on the basis of malpractice allegations or settlements, injunctions, or pending investigations or claims. You must report misdemeanors or felonies.
- Examination: You must have passed an examination that demonstrates your competency to practice counseling (including psychotherapy).
If you’ve ever been licensed in counseling or any field related to counseling, you’ll need to request verification from each jurisdiction (http://www.dora.state.co.us/mental-health/lpc/LPCoriginal.pdf) and attach it, in a sealed envelope, to your application.
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 Colorado.
Colorado’s professional counselors will face continuing education requirements beginning in the 2011 to 2013 renewal period. You may want to sign up for email updates to stay current on policy.
Find answers to commonly asked questions at the Colorado Division of Professions and Occupations Mental Health Licensing Section: Website