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What are the Counselor License Requirements in Indiana?

In order to be licensed as a Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) by the Indiana Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board, you’ll need to meet requirements for education, supervised practice, and examination.

The information below will help guide you through counseling licensure requirements in Indiana. However, to be certain you are on track, consider contacting the Indiana Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board via email at: pla5@pla.in.gov or call (317) 234-2064

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Education Requirements

You must complete a graduate level program in counseling or a related field, plus any additional coursework that may be needed to meet Indiana content standards. The board notes that related fields may include human services, clinical social work, psychology, human development, or family relations, though this list is non-exhaustive. 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.

Your master’s degree must be at least 48 semester hours (72 quarter hours). You must have a total of at least 60 semester hours in counseling or related fields, including any courses taken outside the degree program.

You must have coursework in the following content areas:

  • Social and cultural counseling foundations
  • Human growth and development
  • Groups (dynamics, processes, consultation, and counseling)
  • Helping relationships (including theory and practice of counseling)
  • Individual appraisal and assessment
  • Lifestyle and career development
  • Professional orientation and ethics
  • Program evaluation and research
  • Mental health counseling foundations
  • Contextual dimensions of mental health counseling
  • Psychotherapy and mental health counseling knowledge and skills
  • Clinical instruction

You will find detailed descriptions of each content area in the application packet.

Your program must include 1,000 hours of supervised practice. Normally this consists of a 100 hour practicum, a 600 hour internship, and a 300 hour advanced internship. It is okay if the program did not have an advanced practicum if the total internship and practicum hours still add up to at least 1,000. Post-graduation supervised practice may not count toward this requirement; it must be done as part of the coursework at an educational institution.

You must have at least 100 hours of face-to-face supervision during the course of your practicum and internship experiences.

Acceptable supervisors may include the following:

  • Mental health counselors
  • Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Marriage and family therapists
  • Clinical social workers
  • Psychiatric or mental health clinical nurse specialists

Supervised Practice

You will need to do 3,000 hours of supervised practice before you can be licensed as a Mental Health Counselor. The supervised practice must be completed within a four year time frame. You cannot, however, fulfill your practice obligation in less than 21 months.

During your period of supervised practice, you’ll need 100 hours of face-to-face supervision. Normally, your supervisor(s) will need to verify your experience and supervision and have the verification notarized.

You may fill out and notarize the statement if a supervisor has died, cannot be located, or if there is some other good reason that that the supervisor cannot complete this task (http://www.in.gov/pla/files/50319.pdf). You’ll also be asked to provide contact information for a colleague who can confirm your statements.

Examination

You’ll need to take the NMHCE, administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors(http://www.nbcc.org/Assets/StateForms/IN.pdf). You’ll first turn in your application to the Indiana board. They’ll send you registration information.

You must send your form with an original signature and the required fee (currently $195) to the NBCC, then allow about four weeks for them to approve and send you confirmation. At that point, you schedule an exam at your choice of testing centers. There are four centers in Indiana, in Evansville, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, and Mishawaka, but you can select a center in another state if you prefer. Exams are typically administered the first two weeks of each month. Your fee gives you a six month scheduling window, but you should be aware that slots do fill. You may register by visiting http://www.goamp.com or calling 888-519-9901.

The board expects you to take the exam within a year of application. If you do not, you’ll need to reapply. If you do not pass the exam on a first attempt, you must submit a Repeat Examination Application (http://www.in.gov/pla/files/2012_LMHC_APPLICATION_INSTRUCTIONS.pdf). Candidates who do not pass after three attempts need to appear before the board.

The Application Process

You will submit an application packet, plus additional supporting documentation (Application Instructions in PDF format).

You will need to get your employer to verify your experience and your supervisor to verify your supervision. Both verifications require notarization.

You will request that your school(s) send official transcripts. (If some courses were taken at a different institution than the one where you earned your master’s, you’ll need to make sure that these transcripts are sent.)

You must attach a professional quality head-and-shoulders photograph that measures approximately two inches by three inches.

You need to include a $50 application fee, made out to the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency.

The application includes some questions that pertain to professional fitness. If you answer yes to any of these questions, you’ll need to include a notarized statement. Other supporting evidence may be included as well.

If your name is different than what appears on your supporting documentation, you’ll need to submit an affidavit or notarized copy of a marriage certificate.

While the board does not require that you send syllabi, they do note that it can expedite the process. (The approval process is sometimes delayed because applicants must provide more information to demonstrate that they have met academic requirements.)

Click Here to access the Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board Mental Health Counselor license application and other materials.

Materials may be sent to the following address: Indiana Professional Licensing Agency, Attn: Behavioral Health and Humans Services Licensing Board, 402 West Washington Street; Room W-072, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

Out of State Applicants

If you have ever held a license in any jurisdiction, you must send verification to the board.

Indiana does not license by reciprocity. In order to be licensed by endorsement, you’ll need to show that you have met the same requirements, with the possible exception of the exam. Indiana code specifies that mental health counselors must past the NCMHCE or an exam that is equivalent. The board notes that the NCE (an exam that is used in many states) is not considered equivalent, but that other exams will be evaluated on a case by case basis. Score reports (from the NCMHCE or other exam) should be sent directly to the Indiana board.

In order to be licensed by endorsement, you’ll also need to show that you were actively practicing counseling for at least three of the previous five years and/or that you hold active license or certification in some state.

You may get a temporary permit to practice while you are going through the examination process. You will send your application and supporting documents. You will pay the usual application fee plus an additional $25. You must verify your licensure or (if you were practicing in a state that did not require licensure) verification of national certification.

The permit will expire if you do not pass the exam on a first attempt. A temporary permit may be renewed if you were unable to take a scheduled exam “for good cause”. The board will determine good cause after reviewing written notice. The notice must be submitted within 30 days of the date the exam was scheduled.

As a candidate for endorsement, you’ll also need to pass an Indiana jurisprudence exam. The board will mail it to you after they’ve looked over your application.

Other Professions

Indiana regulations do allow individuals in related fields to be licensed as professional counselors – so long as they meet all requirements, educational and otherwise. The American Art Therapy Association reports that, in Indiana, art therapists can be licensed as counselors.

License Maintenance

You will need to renew your license every other year, by March 31 on even-numbered years (http://www.in.gov/pla/3032.htm). During this time period, you must do 40 hours of continuing education. This must include 20 hours of “formal programming” as defined by the board. At least one of the hours must be in ethics.

You should do at least 20 hours a year. If it’s your first license renewal, and you’ve been licensed less than a year, you’re not responsible for continuing education. If it’s your first renewal, and you’ve been licensed at least 12 months, but less than 24, you’ll be responsible for 20 units.

You will retain records for four years.

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 Indiana.

You should visit the board website for upcoming information about Licensed Associate Mental Health Counselor statutes and related information (Website).

If you have questions about the process, you can email the Indiana board at pla5@pla.in.gov or call (317) 234-2064.

Indiana Counseling Association

Indiana School Counselor Association

Indiana Counselor's Association on Alcohol & Drug Abuse

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*Most states require completion of a CACREP accredited master's in counseling program or a program
that covers very specific curriculum in order to be licensed as a counselor. It is recommend that you follow up
with your state licensing board to review specific educational requirements and determine whether a
program meets your state's counselor licensure requirements.