North Carolina has several levels of licensing for professional counselors. After you have finished your education and examination requirements and submitted the necessary paperwork, you will be credentialed as a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate (LPCA).
When you have completed your supervised practice requirement and the applicable jurisprudence exam, you will move up to Licensed Professional Counselor, or LPC, status.
You may choose to do additional training down the road to become a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor, or LPCS. This will allow you to provide guidance to other counselors who are at the beginning stages of their careers.
The detailed information below serves as a guide to the requirements for licensure as an LPC or LPAC in North Carolina. If you’d like to make sure you are on the right path or have questions, contact the North Carolina Board of Professional Counselors http://www.ncblpc.org/general-info/contact-us.
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All licenses require education at the master’s level or higher. You will need to demonstrate three semester hours (or five quarter hours) in each of the following content areas:
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You will also need a practicum and internship. You must document at least three semester hours of each. You will need a total of at least 300 hours of supervised experience and 17 hours of supervision. You are to be supervised, at minimum, one hour for every 40 hours of experience.
The minimum length of your master’s program will depend on when you enroll. If you enroll before July 1, 2013, you must have at least 54 semester hours of coursework (or the equivalent). If you enter later, the requirement is 60 semester hours.
Those who enrolled in programs before 2009 will need to document only 48 semester hours.
You will have a choice of three licensing exams. You may take the National Counselor Examination or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination through the National Board for Certified Counselors. The NCE is a general certification/ licensing exam for professional counselors; the NCMHCE is often used as a specialty exam for mental health counselors.
You may also opt for the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Examination, which is administered by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification.
You will need to submit an application and supplemental materials to the board in order to be authorized to test. If the initial screening indicates that you have met the requirements, you will be sent registration materials.
You are allowed to retake the licensing exam once by paying the required fees. If you do not pass on a second attempt, the board will deny your licensure. You may, however, reapply at a later date.
In order to move up to professional status, you will need to fulfill a supervised practice requirement of 3,000 hours. The board allows you to determine how quickly you will fulfill your obligation, but you must stay within certain perimeters. You will need to put in at least eight hours a week but no more than 40.
2,000 hours of your credited experience must be direct client contact hours. The North Carolina Board of Professional Counselors defines direct counseling as live contact with individual, families, and groups. This may include appraisal as well as therapeutic activities.
You will have an approved clinical supervisor who guides your professional development. S/he will carry out activities like observations and co-therapy sessions, and will meet with you to discuss your progress. You will need 100 hours of clinical supervision over the course of your supervised work experience. You will need to receive at least one hour of clinical supervision for every 40 hours of practice.
At least 75 of your supervision hours must be individual (as opposed to small group). You may count hours as individual if there is one other supervisee present. See: http://www.ncblpc.org/law-and-codes
Individual sessions must be live and interactive, but you and your supervisor are allowed to make use of real time video. Group sessions may include up to 12 supervisees, but sessions will need to be at least an hour and a half in length.
Your clinical supervisor will be a professional counselor or other mental health professional who has had training in supervision and met other requirements set by the board. Approved supervisors may be psychologists, psychiatrists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, nurse practitioners, or clinical nurse specialists who have been certified in psychiatric care.
You will submit a supervision contract before you begin practice. If you have more than one supervisor or practice at more than one setting, you will need additional contracts.
Your progress will be reported quarterly.
You will continue to work under supervision until you have been issued a license at the higher level.
You will need to take one additional test before you move up to a new credentialing status (http://www.ncblpc.org/license-info/jurisprudence-exam). The jurisprudence exam is no fail – you may take it as many times as you need to complete it successfully. There are three different versions: one for each level of licensing. The exam is based on the North Carolina briefs (http://www.ncblpc.org/ncblpc-forms#13_Exam_Briefs).
The exam costs $45, and you can complete it online. You will find it at the i-counseling website (www.i-counseling.net). Don’t take it to early – you must take it within six months of the time you make your application.
You will print out a certificate to show that you have met this obligation.
If you have questions about the process, you may email firstname.lastname@example.org.
LPCS status is available to experienced professional counselors. You will need to document that you meet experience requirements (five years post-degree and two years post-licensure).
You will also need training in clinical supervision: three semester hours of academic coursework or 45 hours of continuing education.
You will submit a professional disclosure statement pertaining to supervision and take the appropriate jurisprudence exam.
Click Here for the LPCA, LPC and the LPCS application forms and additional information.
There are certain supplementary materials that you will need to submit when you make your first application to the board, whatever the level of licensing.
You will need to have validation of your academic credentials on file. You must contact your educational institution and arrange to have transcripts sent directly to the board.
You will also need to have licensing exam results on file (unless it’s your first application and you are requesting authorization to test).
You will need a professional disclosure statement. This provides essential information to your clients. Your professional disclosure statement will change as you move into different stages of your career.
The board will also need confirmation that you have taken the jurisprudence exam at the appropriate level.
Some supplementary materials are needed only at certain levels. If you are applying at the associate level, you will need a supervisory plan.
If you are applying at the professional level, you will need to document that you have satisfied supervision requirements.
If you are applying to be a supervisor, you will need to verify that you have met the additional educational requirements.
You will need to include an application fee with your materials. The fee is $200 for each of the three levels; a $38 background check fee is also assessed.
If you haven’t yet met all the educational requirements, the board will send you a letter explaining what you have yet to do. If you fail to fill out the application fully, however, the board will return it to you.
Once the Board has received all necessary materials, they will put you on the meeting agenda and do a final review. An applicant may be issued Candidate for Licensure Pending status if official transcript, score report, and/ or disclosure statement is missing; the candidate can be approved pending receipt of documents.
Notifications will come by mail. The board requests that you not call to ask about your application status. You will, however, be assigned a log-in number at the early stages of the process. Status can be monitored online.
If you have been licensed elsewhere, you will need to have your licensing agency verify your license; the verification will need to be sent straight to the board.
Experienced out-of-state counselors can apply by endorsement. Active practice may be accepted in lieu of documentation of supervised practice. The minimum is 2,500 hours during the prior ten years. Educational requirements are different for counselors who were educated in the distant past. Those who enrolled in programs before July 1, 2009 need only 48 semester hours. Those who enrolled in qualifying master’s programs before July 1, 1994 are exempt from the usual academic requirements http://www.ncblpc.org/application-info/reciprocity. The Board may accept other examination equivalent to the NCE, NCMHCE, or CRCC.
North Carolina’s laws and regulations allow for the licensure of professionals in closely related fields. The American Art Therapy Association reports that art therapists are eligible. The NBCC notes that dance/ movement therapy is an official counseling specialty, and that practitioners are eligible in most states.
You will need to renew your license every two years. During this time, you will complete 40 contact hours of continuing education. If you have LPCS status, though, you will need 50. The additional ten must relate to counseling supervision.
You will need to retake the jurisprudence exam during each renewal cycle – the board updates it at least once every two years to make sure that it reflects current standards. The jurisprudence exam is worth five hours of continuing education and meets your ethics requirement.
In addition to providing evidence of continuing education, you will attest that you have maintained ethics standards. You will provide evidence of continuing education if audited.
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 North Carolina.
Board decisions are sent by mail and cannot be shared over the telephone. You may contact the North Carolina Board of Professional Counselors by calling (844) 622-3572 or (336) 217-6007 or using any of the email addresses on the contact page http://www.ncblpc.org/general-info/contact-us. However, the Board requests that you first attempt to find information on the website.
You may also want to explore joining a professional organization as a student or at anytime during the licensure process. The North Carolina Counseling Association and the Licensed Professional Counselors Association of North Carolina are two popular options.