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What are The Professional Counselor License Requirements in Montana?

The Board of Social Work Examiners and Professional Counselors licenses Montana's clinical professional counselors. If you want to become a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), you will need to complete master’s level education and take an examination. You will also need to work under supervision before you can attain professional licensing.

The below information provides detailed information for counselor licensure in Montana. It is a good idea to contact the Board of Social Work Examiners and Professional Counselors if you have any questions and to verify you are on the right track. Contact the Board: Contact

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Education Requirements

You will need 60 semester hours of graduate coursework that is primarily counseling in nature. The program must include at least six semester hours of advanced practicum. Your practicum should include at least 200 hours of client service (80 of them in direct care), plus 45 hours of small group supervisory consultation, and 30 hours of individual supervisory consultation. The program has some discretion in how it allocates the remaining hours.

Generally, you meet the educational requirements by enrolling in a master's program that contains all the required courses. However, if you completed a master's degree of at least 45 semester hours, and it included an advanced practicum, you may make up the difference by enrolling in additional post-master's courses. You may be licensed without having completed all the required coursework, but you'll need to make it up within five years.

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.

If you had fewer than 45 semester hours in your master's program, you may pursue a specialist degree. This will entail at least an additional 24 semester hours.

The licensing application will ask you to verify that you have completed coursework in the following subjects (all of which are standard in modern, CACREP-accredited programs):

  • Counseling theory
  • Counseling techniques
  • Human growth and development
  • Social and cultural foundations
  • Helping relationships
  • Lifestyle and career development
  • Groups
  • Appraisal
  • Professional orientation
  • Research and evaluation

You will also verify your advanced practicum and supervised experience.

The Montana board considers 90 quarter hours to be the equivalent of 60 semester hours.

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

Supervised Practice

Before you can receive your professional license, you must work under supervision for at least 3,000 hours. You may earn up to half of these hours while earning your degree – experience may take the form of university coordinated work experience as well as practicums and internships.

At least 1,500 of the required hours must be attained after your degree, and at least 1,000 of the post-degree hours must be in direct client care in a clinical setting.

Volunteer hours may be counted toward the requirement provided that they are properly supervised. Hours spent in a school setting may count toward the total requirement, but not the clinical requirement. According to the board's FAQ section, other examples of activities that would not be considered direct clinical care would be preparing case notes, scoring assessments, attending staff meetings, and consulting with other professionals.

Your supervisor may be licensed as a professional counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or mental health professional. You will need a total of at least 100 hours of supervision over the course of your supervised experience. All supervision must be interactive, though some may make use of technology. At least 50 hours should be individual and face-to-face.

Generally, you should receive at least an hour of individual supervision and consultation for every twenty hours you work. You are not allowed to go more than 80 hours without it. (Work experience that's done without appropriate supervision isn't counted by the board.)

If you are counting supervised experience that you gained while attaining your degree, individual supervision is expected at the rate of one hour for every fifteen hours of work. The supervision can be provided by a faculty member or a mental health professional.

While you are working as an unlicensed professional, a supervisor will need to review assessment interpretations.

Licensure Examination

You’ll need to take the National Counselor Examination (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). Both are administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors.

You’ll apply to the Montana board for approval to test. Once you get it, you’ll send an application to the NBCC, along with a $195 fee. They’ll process your fee and registration and send you your approval within about a month. Then you’ll contact the Applied Measurement Professionals to schedule your appointment – you may visit the www.goAMP.com website to do so.

In Montana, computerized tests are administered two weeks out of the month in Billings, Great Falls, and Missoula. The tests are also administered at approximately 170 centers in the country; all sites offer the tests during the same two weeks.

Your fee gives you a six month window, but the NBCC cautions that seats do fill.

You may email the NBCC at examinations@nbcc.org if you have questions.

The Application Process

The application process will involve several steps:

  • You will need to get your fingerprints done. You may call the Montana board at (406) 841-2392 or (406) 841-2391 to get a packet (including release form and fingerprint card).
  • You must also gather references from three mental health professionals. You will find a form titled Verification of Moral/ Professional Character in your application packet. You'll send forms to your references, and they'll mail them back to the board.
  • You will need to contact your university as well to request official graduate transcripts.
  • The application includes questions about your work experience, professional affiliations, and professional fitness.
  • You must fill out a course worksheet as a supplement. If it's not clear which of the courses listed on your transcript meet particular curricular requirements, you should attach additional clarification.
  • The application fee is $50. You will need to pay an additional $50 to get your initial counseling license.

Click Here to find the application and other materials via the The Montana Board of Social Work Examiners and Professional Counselors website.

Materials should be sent to:

The Montana Board of Social Work Examiners and Professional Counselors
PO Box 200513
Helena, Montana 59620-0513.

Out of State Applicants

If you're already working as a professional counselor in another state, you have additional avenues for attaining Montana licensing. You can verify either that you have been practicing for two years or that you have the required 3,000 supervision hours. Normally, you should fill out the supervisory experience form and get your supervisor's signature, but the board will accept an affidavit if this is not possible.

You will have a background check run by the Montana Department of Justice. You will submit your three letters of reference and your academic credentials.

Additionally, you will need to obtain verification from all states where you have held licensure. You will find, in your application packet, a verification form. The form will ask whether you were licensed by examination, endorsement, or through some other method as well as what licensing examination you took. It will also ask about disciplinary actions or requested appearances before the board.

Other Professionals who can be Licensed as Counselors

Montana’s rules and regulations allow for the licensing of therapists in related fields – so long as they meet the licensing standards (including education and testing). The American Art Therapy Association reports that Montana art therapists can be licensed as counselors.

License Maintenance

You'll need to renew your license each year Click Here for the Form. You can do so online.

You'll be responsible for doing 20 clock hours of continuing education during each renewal cycle.

You'll also pay a $100 fee.

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 Montana.

You may get official rules by calling (406) 444-2055 or downloading them from the Board's website: Click Here

You may use the contact form posted at: Board of Social Work Examiners and Professional Counselors to ask questions or request to be on the list to receive notifications of rule changes.

Places to Learn More: Click Here for the Board of Social Work Examiners and Professional Counselors Rules

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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.