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Requirements for Counselor Licensure in Maryland

As a Maryland counselor, you may have a license that allows you to practice at either of two levels. When you first complete your education and testing requirements, you can apply to become a Licensed Graduate Professional Counselor. Once you've met your experience requirements, you can take a step up and become a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. Here's a breakdown of the requirements.

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Required Education

In order to practice at either level, you must complete a master's or doctoral degree in counseling or another related field.

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.

You must have at least 60 semester hours (or 90 quarter hours) of education with at least three semester hours (or five quarter hours) in each of the following content areas:

  • Human growth and personality development
  • Social and cultural foundations
  • Counseling theory
  • Counseling techniques
  • Career and lifestyle development
  • Group dynamics, processing, and counseling
  • Appraisal
  • Research and evaluation
  • Professional, ethical, and legal responsibilities
  • Alcohol and drug counseling
  • Marriage and family therapy
  • Diagnosis and psychopathology
  • Psychotherapy/ treatment of emotional disorders

The board notes that acceptable courses may go by a variety of names. The appraisal requirement, for example, might be met through a class in Individual Appraisal or Tests and Measurements. There are required subtopics, though, within each topic area. Diagnosis and pathology must include categories of mental illness, DSM and ICD diagnosis, theories of etiology, and societal impact.

In addition to academic coursework, your program must include a practicum or supervised field experience. It must include at least 125 hours of direct client care. If you are unsure whether the coursework you have taken or are considering taking meets board requirements, you may fill out a Pre-application Credentials Evaluation (http://dhmh.maryland.gov/bopc/pdfs/PreapplicationCredentialevaluationLCPCorLGPC.pdf). You will include transcripts and also course catalog descriptions if the names of required courses are different from those listed on the form. This can be done by hand or by computer, but be sure to include your return address, so that the board can send a response. There is a $25 fee for this service.

Read more about selecting a Master's in Counseling program here.

Examination

Before you can be licensed as a Graduate Professional Counselor, you will need to take to take two tests.

One is a licensing exam, the National Counselor Examination (NCE). You will need to apply to the Maryland Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists to receive a registration form and authorization to test (http://www.nbcc.org/Assets/StateForms/MD.pdf). Then you will send an application to the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). Your application must be signed in ink; it must be accompanied by a $195 fee.

The NBCC will send you your confirmation approximately four weeks later. At this point, you can contact the American Measurement Professionals (ww.goAMP.com) to schedule a computer-based exam. Exams are held in Baltimore and Randallstown as well as at 170 other locations around the country. They are generally available Monday through Friday for the first two full weeks of the month. Some sites also have Saturday sessions. You should schedule well in advance as sessions do fill.

The other required test is a jurisprudence exam, the Maryland Law Test. You can take it at the board office. It is administered the 3rd Wednesday and 4th Thursday of each month.

Supervised Practice

Before you can achieve LCPC status, you must work under supervision (Click Here to learn more about this.). Your work experience requirement will depend on your educational level. If you have a master's degree, you will need three years/ 3,000 hours. If you have a doctoral degree, two years and 2,000 hours will suffice. It is acceptable for a portion of your experience to have been completed before your degree was conferred. At least two years of the master's level requirement must be post-master's; at least 1,000 hours of the doctoral requirement must be post-doctorate.

You may be supervised by a clinical professional counselor, marriage and family therapist, clinical social worker, psychiatrist, psychologist, or psychiatric nurse. Any supervisor must be licensed in his or her respective field.

Your initial LGPC license is good for two years (http://dhmh.maryland.gov/bopc/SitePages/forms.aspx). You may renew it for an additional two year period.

The Application Process

You will fill out an application packet to become a LGPC and then fill out additional paperwork later to achieve the higher status (Click Here to access all applications and forms you will need.).

You will complete your initial application before taking the licensing exam -- this is how you get your testing approval.

You will include contact information for three professional references. You will include basic information about the required courses (including the university where you took the class, the dates, and the grade you earned). You will also list the additional courses that make up your 60 unit requirement.

You will answer all questions, attach a recent two by two photograph, and have an affidavit notarized.

You should request that your graduate school send transcripts directly to the Maryland board.

Your LGPC application will include a $75.00 nonrefundable fee. You will have additional fees to pay later.

You should mail your application materials to the address listed below: Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists, 4201 Patterson Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland 21215.

Out of State Applicants

You will need to provide licensing verification from any jurisdiction where you’ve ever been authorized to practice.

If you have a license that’s in good standing in another jurisdiction, you may be able to achieve Maryland licensure through a simplified process (Click Here to learn more about this.).

You will need to show that you have a master’s or doctoral degree from an accredited, board-approved institution. You won’t have to document all the specific coursework that in-state applicants document, but you will need to show that you have at least three semester hours (or five quarter hours) in the following content areas:

  • Diagnosis and Psychopathology
  • Psychotherapy and treatment of mental and emotional disorders
  • Professional, ethical, and legal responsibilities

If you have a doctoral degree, you may document two years of professional experience (or 2,000 hours) instead of the usual supervised experience. If you completed a master’s degree of less than 60 semester hours, three years of professional experience may be substituted for the supervised experience requirement.

If you have a master’s degree which includes at least 60 units, you will be expected to show supervised experience, but you will have a fairly simple verification form that can be filled out by a supervisor, employer, or colleague. You can find out-of-state application materials, including verification forms, on the board site (Click Here for out-of-state application materials.).

Either the NCE or the National Clinical Mental Health Counselors Examination will be accepted as a licensing exam.

If you are registered with either the American Association of State Counseling Boards or the National Credentials Registry, and your registration shows that you’ve met the requirements for Maryland licensure, you won’t need to provide a lot of documentation – you will still need to take the Maryland Law Exam, though.

Other Professionals who may be Licensed as Professional Counselors

The American Art Therapy Association reports that Maryland’s art therapists can be licensed as professional counselors if they meet all requirements.

License Maintenance

Counselors must complete 40 CEUs during each renewal period. At least 30 must be in category A. Category A includes workshops, symposiums, and seminars as well as materials for juried publications.

Board approved sponsors include the following organizations (and their state or regional affiliates):

  • The American Counseling Association
  • The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
  • The National Board for Certified Counselors
  • The International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium/Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse
  • The National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is also an approved sponsor.

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 Maryland.

Maryland has issued a practice alert for Professional Counselors regarding Tricare. Check out the updated Tricare Certification and Tricare Application materialsfor Maryland. (http://dhmh.maryland.gov/bopc/SitePages/Home.aspx)

You may contact the Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors and Therapists by calling 410-764-4732. You may email the licensure coordinator at sullivaa@dhmh.state.md.us.

Maryland Association for Counseling and Development

Maryland School Counselor Association

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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.