The Counseling Licensure Process in Florida
Florida’s counselors are licensed as Licensed Mental Health Counselors. You can earn this status through graduate education, examination, and supervised practice. The application process itself may vary, depending on your circumstances and life experiences.
Make sure you are on the right path. If you have any questions about the LMHC requirements in Florida, contact the Florida Department of Health CSW, MFT & MHC @ Phone: 850-245-4444.
Select a topic below...
- Education requirements
- The application process
- Supervised practice requirements
- Testing process
- I am a licensed counselor in another state
- Applying for special licenses
- Maintaining your license
- Contact information and Schools Offering Counseling Degree Programs.
Education is your first step. You will need to earn a graduate degree from a program that has been accredited by CACREP. It must be a mental health counseling degree, as opposed to another specialty. In addition to core content areas, it should include courses in substance abuse and human sexuality. Learn more about selecting a Master's in Counseling program here.
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)
If your program is not properly accredited, it must be 60 semester hours (or 80 quarter hours). It must include at least semester hours (or 4 quarter hours) in each of the following content areas:
- Counseling theories
- Human growth and development
- Group theories and practice
- Human sexuality
- Psychopathology diagnosis and treatment
- Career and lifestyle
- Individual assessment and evaluation
- Research and program evaluation
- Substance abuse
- Counseling in community settings
- Legalities, ethics, and professional standards
- Cultural and social foundations
You may not use fieldwork or research, thesis, or dissertation work to meet requirements in any of the above areas.
You must, however, do 1,000 hours of practicum or internship work through your university. The practicum must include at least 280 hours of direct counseling practice, with at least an hour a week of individual (or triadic) supervision. You should have a formal evaluation upon completion. If you didn’t meet the practicum requirement as part of your degree program, you’ll need to make it up before beginning your period of post-master’s supervised experience. You’ll be registered as an intern.
Regardless of the accreditation status of your school, you must take the following additional classes from an approved provider:
- Rules and laws
- Medical error prevention
Within six months of licensure, you must also take a three-hour class in HIV/AIDS and a two-hour class in domestic violence.
Applying for Intern Status
You will submit an application before you begin working as an intern. Click here to download the intern application. You’ll show that you have completed coursework in at least seven of the content areas. You must have already completed the requirement for psychopathology or abnormal psychology.
In the application, you will document your educational and professional history and answer questions about ethics and professional fitness. You will also document important health history. If you have recent or chronic mental illness, you’ll need to submit a status report from a mental health professional. The application must be accompanied by a $150 fee.
You should have your university send transcripts directly to the board.
If your program wasn’t CACREP-accredited, you will include verification that you have completed a practicum that met CACREP standards. You will get this from the university and either have it sent directly or include it in a sealed envelope with a signature on the flap.
There are two separate addresses you’ll need. The application and fee should be sent to the following address: Board of CSW, MFT, MHC, P. O. Box 6330, Tallahassee, FL 32314-6330.
You should send additional supporting documentation (or have third parties send it) to the following address: Board of CSW, MFT, MHC, 4052 Bald Cypress Way, BIN #C08, Tallahassee, FL 32399-3258.
Click Here to access the online professional licensure application form.
Before you can achieve credentialing as a licensed mental health counselor, you must work under supervision for two years. You will need to do at least 1,500 hours of face to face client work during this supervised practice. You must be supervised one hour for every fifteen hours of psychotherapy you do. You will also need to make sure that you get at least one hour of supervision every two weeks. At least half you supervision hours must be individual (or paired with no more than one other intern); individual supervision hours may alternate with group supervision hours.
In order to be licensed, you’ll need to take the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination, which is administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. You will receive your registration from the board after you are approved to take the exam. You will send the form with an original signature (in ink) and a $195 nonrefundable fee.
You will be able to schedule a test at any of 170 testing centers across the country. There are nine in Florida, located in the following cities: Casselberry, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Lakeland, Miami, Ocala, Sarasota, Tallahassee, and West Palm Beach. Testing is generally the first two weeks of each month. Testing sites are open every weekday; some have Saturday sessions as well.
It will take about four weeks to get your approval from the NBCC. Then you’ll schedule by calling 888-519-9901 or visiting www.goAMP.com.
If you don’t pass on a first attempt, you’ll need to get another registration from the Florida board. You may email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Out of State Applicants
If you have a license in another state and have been actively practicing during at least three of the past five years, you may apply for licensure by endorsement. This option is designed for those who can’t document that they’ve met the supervised experience option.
You must meet the basic educational requirements. You must also have taken board-approved laws and rules and medical errors classes. You need to be prepared to pass Florida’s licensing exam (after you secure board approval). You’ll also need to take domestic violence and HIV/AIDS within six months of licensing.
If you have not yet met all of the examination and educational requirements, you may be issued a provisional license, which is good for twenty-four months.
If you got your education in another country, you’ll need to have equivalency evaluated by a recognized evaluation service. The evaluation should be sent directly to the board.
Any documents that are in a language other than English must be translated by a certified translator.
Special Licenses: Military Spouses, Retirees
As a military spouse, you may get a license for $113. You will still be responsible for filling out the application packet and getting fingerprints. You will have an additional application packet (http://doh.state.fl.us/mqa/491/soc_ceu.html)
If you are retired or plan to retire soon, you may be able to get a limited license that allows you to work where there very is high need. You will need to meet these conditions:
- You must have been licensed for at least ten years in another state.
- You must only work with populations who are underserved, indigent, or in critical need.
- You must work for a public agencies or nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) status which cover you under liability insurance.
As long as you work on a volunteer basis, you will not have to pay licensing fees. If you don’t qualify for a fee waiver, you will pay a $25 fee.
You’ll need 30 hours of continuing education every two years.. This must include a two hour class in medical errors and a three hour class in ethics and boundary issues. Once every three renewal cycles, you’ll need to complete a two hour class in domestic violence.
You can see approved providers and submit continuing education online at https://www.cebroker.com/public/pb_index.aspx.
You may be exempt from the continuing education requirement the first time that you renew.
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 Florida.
You may contact the Florida Department of Health CSW, MFT & MHC by calling 850-245-4444.Website (You will also find the relevant statutes online there.)