If you are interested in practicing professional counseling in Georgia, you will apply to the Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage & Family Therapists. The process of becoming a counselor involves graduate level education and a demonstration of good character.
To move from Associate Licensed Professional Counselor (ALPC) to Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) status, you’ll need supervised work experience. An exam is also required.
The information provided here is a road map for counselor licensure in Georgia. With any additional questions regarding the LPC requirements in Georgia, you will want to contact the Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage & Family Therapists at (478) 207-2440 to make sure you are on the right path.
Your first step is enrolling in a degree program. In order to be licensed, you must hold a master’s degree. Your program must be primarily about counseling. It must hold accreditation by some agency that is recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (http://sos.georgia.gov/acrobat/PLB/41%20Associate%20Professional%20Counselor%20Application.pdf ).
Additionally, your program must include the theory of counseling or psychotherapy and coursework in at least six of the following content areas:
Your education must also include an internship of at least 300 hours. While interning, you must be supervised by the instructor of record. (If the experience was before January 1, 2004, the internship experience may be in applied psychology as opposed to professional counseling.)
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 Counseling modeled after CACREP's guidelines. The M.A. in Counseling is in the process of accreditation with CACREP and anticipates receiving accreditation this year (2016). Despite not having accreditation, Counseling@Northwestern works with its students to ensure that they are able to meet licensure requirements in their state. 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)
Antioch University offers a new Online MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program that is in the CACREP accreditation process and mirrors the CACREP-accredited program delivered on campus. Specializations in: Substance Abuse and Addictions Counseling (SAAC) and Counseling Military Service Personnel and their Families (MSPF). Click here to contact Antioch University and request information about their programs. Antioch is a private, not-for-profit university. (*This program is NOT available to students in CA, IL, IA, KS, MO, NH, ND)
All the required coursework does not necessarily have to be included as part of your degree. The board will credit you for some graduate coursework done that is done before or after the master’s.
You will need to practice under supervision before you can attain licensure as a professional counselor.
The amount of work experience required depends on your educational background.
The actual years you work as an associate may be greater, depending on whether you’re full-time.
While employed as an Associate Licensed Counselor, you’ll have both an employer (known as a director), who handles administrative tasks and makes sure you’re competent at what you do, and a supervisor who has met board standards. In addition to offering you guidance, the supervisor evaluates your performance for licensure purposes.
You can find a list of certified supervisors on the site of Licensed Professional Counselors Association of Georgia. The LPCA is a separate entity from the licensing board, but organization notes that the board encouraged the development of a certifying process – and that supervisors who hold the credential have exceeded standards set by the board.
Your supervisor(s) will be expected to fill out paperwork, verifying experience and supervision. There is a supplemental form you can use if a supervisor has died or if it is impossible to contact them.
You will need to take the National Counselors Examination or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination to become licensed in Georgia. Both exams are available from the National Board for Certified Counselors. Georgia uses the computer-based version, which is available at sites all over the nation, and is generally offered the first two weeks of each month. In Georgia, you can take the exam in Decatur, Lilburn, Marietta, Macon, or Savannah.
You must get approval from the board first by applying to the board. Then you will send in your registration along with a fee (currently $195). You will wait about four weeks to get confirmation from the NBCC. Once you receive it, you may register at your choice of testing centers.
According to Volume 30, Title 43-1-9 of the General Provisions, you may receive preference points if you are a veteran who has seen served several months during war or conflict or been injured in the line of duty.
Before you can become an Associate Professional Counselor, you must submit a notarized application to the board. Click here to download the application. Your application package must include the following:
Your fee should be made out to Georgia Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage & Family Therapists.
Depending on individual circumstances, you may have additional materials to submit. If you have ever been licensed in another state, you will obtain verification.
Materials should be sent to the following address:
Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists, 237 Coliseum Drive, Macon, Georgia 31217.
If you want to check what materials have been received by the board, you may go to the online services section of the board website and click Check the Status of an Application.
If you need some additional help with the licensing process, you may want to contact the LPCA.
You can get licensure by endorsement if hold a license in a state that has requirements that are either very similar or higher. You won’t need to take the exam in Georgia, but you will need to verify that your license is in good standing. You can download Form N from the site and send it your former state board for verification.
You will need to do 35 clock hours of continuing education every two years.. At least five will need to be in professional ethics. At least fifteen of the remaining hours must be core. (Up to fifteen can be in a field that’s related to professional counseling, but has different licensing and standards.)
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 Georgia.
You may call the Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage & Family Therapists at (478) 207-2440 for further information.
You may also want to become a member of the Licensed Professional Counselors Association of Georgia.