A State by State Counselor Guide

Mental Health Counselor License Requirements in HI

In Hawaii, counselors are credentialed as Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHC). You won’t need the license to take a position as rehabilitation counselor. If your goal is to become a mental health counselor, though, you will. The most important steps in the process are graduate education, supervised practice, and examination.

The information below provides a road map of the requirements for mental health counseling licensure in Hawaii. To assure you are on the right path you may contact the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Professional and Vocational Licensing: Phone: (808) 586-2693 or email: counselor@dcca.hawaii.gov

Northwestern's Top-12 Ranked CACREP Accredited Online M.A. in Counseling program offers both full and part time options that allow you to earn a degree on your own schedule. GRE scores are not required for this program. Request information.

Capella University offers four online CACREP - Accredited Graduate Programs in Counseling: MS in Mental Health Counseling, MS in Marriage & Family Counseling/Therapy, MS in School Counseling, and PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision. The MS in Marriage & Family Counseling/Therapy program is also COAMFTE-accredited. In addition, Capella has program options in Addiction Studies, Studies in Human Behavior, General Psychology, Clinical Counseling, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Educational Psychology, Sport Psychology, and more. Click here to contact Capella University and request information about their programs today.

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Education Requirements

You must earn a master’s or doctoral degree in counseling or a related field. Your degree must include 48 semester hours or 72 quarter hours of coursework. You must have two semesters of practicum work, each at least three semester hours (or five quarter hours). Learn more about selecting a Master's in Counseling program here.

You must also have three semester hours in each of the following:

  • Counseling theories and applications
  • Lifestyle and career development
  • Human growth and development
  • Group theory and practice
  • Behavior appraisal
  • Test and measurements
  • Ethics and professional orientation
  • Research and program evaluation
  • Cultural and social foundations

The University of Hawaii-Hilo has a mental health counseling program that meets board requirements (http://counseling.uhh.hawaii.edu/). In addition, there are several universities in the nation that offer programs in a primarily online format. Accreditation by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Programs is considered a sign of program quality and is the standard in many parts of the nation. You may search for programs by visiting http://www.cacrep.org/index.cfm/finding-a-cacrep-program. You will need to make sure that the program does meet Hawaii’s standards.

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)

Supervised practice

You will need to practice counseling under supervision for a period of two to four years. You may be supervised by a mental health counselor, clinical social worker, psychiatrist, psychologist, marriage and family therapist, or an advanced practice nurse who is a mental health specialist.

You total supervised practice must equal at least 3,000 hours. During that time, you must have 100 hours or more of clinical face-to-face supervision.

You should take between two and four years to complete your supervised experience. You will need to have verification forms filled out by your clinical supervisor(s).

Testing

You will need to take the National Counselor Examination, available through the National Board for Certified Counselors. You must get approval from the board to take the exam; once approved, you’ll receive a registration form which you will need to sign in ink and send to the NBCC. Click here to download the registration form. It must be accompanied by a $195 fee.

Hawaii has one testing site, in Honolulu. You will be allowed to schedule an exam either there or at any of the other computerized testing sites around the nation. Testing sessions are generally offered during the first two weeks of each month, on weekdays. Some sites also have Saturday sessions. You should be aware that sessions are granted first-come, first-serve, and may fill.

Your $195 fee allows you to schedule during a six month window. You may visit the AMP site at http://www.goamp.com/ or dial 888-519-990 once you’ve received confirmation from the NBCC that you can test. You should allow four weeks for this confirmation.

The Application Process

You will need to have the institution that you earned your master's or doctoral degree send transcripts to the board. If you are using courses from other institutions to supplement these and help you meet Hawaii requirements, you'll need to have those transcripts sent as well (as noted in the application package).

You will need to collect some supporting documents and include them with your application.

You will need to attach a $60 fee made out to Commerce and Consumer Affairs. (Licensing fees are separate and will be due later.)

If you answered yes to questions 4 through 6 of the application, which discuss ethics, professional activity, and criminal activity, you will need to include supporting documentation detailing the circumstances.

Your practicum and post-graduate supervisors will need to notarize the form verifying your practice and supervision.

There is an exception, however, if you graduated before July 1, 2007. The institution where you completed your practicum can verify on official letterhead that your practicum was equivalent to that for a mental health counselor. A clinical supervisor and official at the institution or agency where you did your post-graduate practice can provide written verification that your practice was equivalent to that required for a mental health counselor and that you completed it in the required time frame.

If you already took and passed the NCE, you can contact the NBCC to have verification sent to the Hawaii board. Like the transcripts, it must be sent directly. You may visit the score verification page on the NBCC site: http://www.nbcc.org/Exams/ScoreVerification.

Click here for the Mental Health Counselor application forms.

Applications should be mailed to Mental Health Counselor Program DCCA, PVL Licensing Branch P.O. Box 3469 Honolulu, HI 96801.

Conversely, they can be hand delivered to PVL Licensing Branch 335 Merchant Street, Room 301 Honolulu, HI 96813.

Once you submit an application, you're expected to continue to work toward licensing even if you need to meet additional requirements. Applications are removed from the system after an applicant fails, for two consecutive years, to provide evidence that they're continuing to work toward licensure -- for example, attempting the licensing exam.

Out of State Applicants

Hawaii does not have a separate application process for out-of-state applicants. You’ll need to demonstrate that you’ve met educational, experience, and testing requirements.

License Maintenance

Licenses must be renewed every three years. The renewal deadline is June 30, but you can renew up to 90 days before that.

When you apply for renewal, you need to answer questions about disciplinary action or criminal convictions. However, you don't need to demonstrate continuing education at this time. Do continue to check the website (or consult with a professional organization).

Currently, you may renew either online or through a paper application form.

There is a separate renewal form for those on inactive status. There are also two different addresses. Make sure that you have the right form and that it is sent to the indicated address.

Additional Information

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 Hawaii.

You may contact the board by calling (808) 586-2693 or emailing counselor@dcca.hawaii.gov. If you’re having trouble navigating the site or printing forms, visit http://hawaii.gov/dcca/pvl.

The board notes that professional organizations keep their members current as new information becomes available.

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