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What are the Professional Counselor License Requirements in Minnesota?

Minnesota has two levels of licensing for mental health counselors: Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC). The two differ in experience, education, and examination requirements. LPCCs are recognized by law as “mental health professionals” within the state. Here is a look at the requirements for each.

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counselor licensure

Education Requirements

You will need a degree at the master’s level or higher to achieve either level of licensing. If your goal is practice at the LPC level, your degree must include at least 48 semester hours of study. It should be accredited by CACREP or by some accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. 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 graduate education must include coursework in the following content areas. The board notes that courses do not have to have the specific titles they have listed – their suggestions are intended as a guide.

  • The helping relationship
  • Human growth and development
  • Group dynamics, processes, counseling, and consulting
  • Lifestyle and career development
  • Assessment and appraisal
  • Mental and emotional disorders and dysfunctional behavior
  • Social and cultural foundations
  • Family counseling and therapy
  • Professional counseling orientation and ethics
  • Research and evaluation

Your degree program must also include 700 hours of supervised field experience. If your degree program did not meet all of the above standards, you may take additional coursework later. Under normal circumstances, you are allowed to take up to twenty semester hours (or thirty quarter hours). If you need to take more than that, it must be part of a sequential plan of study.

If you have already completed your degree, and it did not include the required field experience, you may take it post-degree, but it must be through an accredited institution.

LPCCs have additional coursework requirements. They include the following:

  • Psychopathology (including developmental pathology), diagnostic assessments for adult and child mental disorders
  • Clinical treatment planning
  • Clinical intervention, as informed by community practice standards and research
  • Evaluation methodologies
  • Professional ethics
  • Cultural diversity

LIcensing Examinations in Minnesota

Minnesota will accept four different licensing exams for Licensed Professional Counselor. Two are offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. They are the National Counselor Exam and the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination. The NCMHCE is the one that will later be required for LPCC licensure. Also acceptable are the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Examination and the Examination for the Professional Practice of Psychology.

The same registration form is used for both the NCE and NCMHCE -- just make sure you indicate which one you want to take. You can download forms directly from the NBCC site. You will send your registration with official, sealed transcripts and a $195 fee. The application should include your original signature in ink. You will receive confirmation from the NBCC approximately a month later. Then you are eligible to visit www.goAMP.com and register at any of the AMP’s computerized testing centers. There are testing sites in Duluth and Minneapolis and in many other cities around the nation.

If you took an exam other than the ones that have been approved for LPC licensure, you may submit a request to have it reviewed (http://www.bbht.state.mn.us/Default.aspx?tabid=1150). The Examination Evaluation Committee will determine whether it is acceptable, or if you need to take another exam. The only approved exam for LPCC licensure is the NCMHCE. However, if you’ve already taken another licensing exam approved for use at the lower level, you only need to take the NBCC’s Examination of Clinical Counseling Practice.

Supervised Practice

As a Licensed Professional Counselor, you must be supervised for your first 2,000 hours of practice. In order to eventually move up to LPCC status, you will need to do 4,000 hours of supervised practice. Your 4,000 hours must include at least 1,800 hours of direct client contact.

When you turn in your LPC application, you will include a supervision plan. You may begin before your application is approved provided you are indeed working under the supervisor noted in your application and that person is an approved supervisor.

If your supervisor is not already board-approved, s/he will need to fill out an application. 45 hours of training in supervision is required. You may request a list of approved supervisors from the board. The board specifies that in order to meet your supervision requirements as an LPC, you must have two hours of supervision for every 40 hours of experience. This equals 100 hours over the course of the required 2,000 hours. At least 75% of your supervision must be in-person (as opposed to over the phone or via electronic devices). 50% must be individual.

In order to qualify for LPCC status, you must also have two hours of supervision for every forty hours of professional practice.

Out of State Applicants

If you hold an eligible license in an approved state, you are a candidate for licensure by reciprocity. Because the licensing requirements are substantively similar, you don’t need to provide the experience documentation that other candidates must provide. You will not need to provide evidence of having had field experience as a part of your degree. In many cases, you won’t need to document your post-degree experience either.

The board notes that other states not on the list may be eligible for license by reciprocity -- reciprocity hasn't yet been determined. You will need to fill out an application for licensure.

The board has determined that the following states have substantively similar requirements, and qualify you for reciprocity for an LPC license. (Those noted with an asterisk will require some extra documentation.)

  • Licensed Professional Counselor: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado*, Connecticut, Georgia*, Illinois*, Louisiana, Michigan*, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
  • Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor: Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Montana
  • Licensed Mental Health Counselor: Florida, Iowa, Massachusetts, Washington, New York
  • Licensed Mental Health Professional: Nebraska
  • Certified Professional Counselor: Nebraska
  • Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor: North Dakota, Ohio
  • Licensed Professional Counselor-Mental Health: South Dakota

*If you are coming from Colorado, and have a doctoral degree, you’ll need official verification of your supervision, obtained directly from the Colorado board. If you’re an LPC from Michigan or Georgia, you’ll also need supervision verification.

Under certain conditions, Illinois candidates with the lower level LPC status may be granted reciprocity. In addition to showing you’ve met the supervision requirements, you must verify that you have a license granted under Administrative Code, section 1375.30, subpart (a)(1)(A).

The following licenses have been evaluated and approved for licensure by reciprocity at the LPCC level:

  • Licensed Mental Health Counselor: Massachusetts
  • Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor: Ohio
  • Licensed Professional Counselor: Virginia

The Minnesota board lists a number of states where reciprocity at the LPCC level is not offered because standards are not substantially equivalent. Some states have not yet been evaluated by the board for reciprocity at this level.

You may email carly.lykes@state.mn.us with questions.

Supervised Practice for Applicants with Experience

Normally, supervised practice is done after you have been licensed as an LPC. However, the board will consider supervised practice that took place before. You must send in the Verification of Past Supervised Professional Practice form when you turn in your application for licensure as an LPC. You must also send in a supervisor application form if any of the supervision took place after July 5, 2005. (Otherwise you will send in the supervisor verification form).

If you have completed the minimum supervision requirements, you may receive LPC licensing with a designation that you can engage in independent practice.

Candidates Licensed as Psychologists or Psychological Practitioners

If you are already licensed within the state as a psychologist or psychological practitioner, you do not have to demonstrate the academic content that is normally required of professional counselors. As a psychologist, you must show that you had supervision appropriate to the license. If you are licensed as a psychological practitioner and have had 2,000 hours of supervised practice, you should verify it (Minn. Stat. sec. 148.925, subd.). Your supervisor is not expected to meet the usual criteria for LPC supervisor – this is true whether you are documenting past supervision or putting together a supervision plan. You will need a total of 2,00 hours of supervised practice before you can engage in independent practice.

Other Professionals who may be Licensed as Counselors

With the exception of psychologists and psychological practitioners, applicants are held to the same standards regardless of profession or specialty. However, in some instances, other professionals will meet these standards and qualify for licensure. This may be the case for art therapists.

The Application Process

You will fill out an application and submit it with a two by two photograph. The photo should show a front view of your head and shoulders. Click here to download the application. (It's in a PDF format)

You will fill out all applicable sections. Some sections must be filled out by all applicants, regardless of status. Others may not apply to you – it depends on your current state and licensing status. LPC application fee, licensing fee, and surcharge together $425.

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 Minnesota.

You may call the board at (612) 617-2178.

You may also visit the Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy to find additional licensure and certification information.

Check out the professional organization for counselors in MN: Minnesota Counseling 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.