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Counseling Licensure Requirements in Ohio

Ohio certifies counselors at multiple levels. Some designations grant you practice rights while others signify that you are currently in training.

When you have finished all requirements, including supervised practice, you will achieve the highest level of licensing, Clinical Professional Counselor. While you are completing your post-graduate supervised practice, you will be a Professional Counselor/Clinical Resident.

If you get your initial education within the state, chances are good that you will be asked to register as a Counselor Trainee.

Any credential will require a background check. Any credential beyond trainee will entail a graduate degree and an examination process.

The information below serves as a guide to counseling licensure in Ohio. If at any point you have questions or just want to make sure you are on the correct path, contact the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage & Family Therapist Board at 614-466-0912.

Select a licensure requirement topic below...

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Education

Education is the foundation for credentialing at all levels. You will need to enroll in a program that is specifically geared toward the counseling profession. The board notes that degrees in related fields like psychology or family therapy are not considered qualifying degrees for those seeking Professional Counselor designation.

Your master's program must include 60 semester hours, or 90 quarter hours, of applicable coursework.

You must have the core coursework in each of the areas outlined below:

  • Counseling theory
  • Counseling techniques
  • Human growth and development
  • Social and cultural foundations
  • Lifestyle and career development
  • Group dynamics, processing, and consulting
  • Individual appraisal
  • Research and evaluation
  • Professional legal and ethical standards
  • Practicum
  • Internship

Before you can be licensed, you will also need to demonstrate that you have had a total of twenty semester hours in areas related to mental and emotional disorders. These hours may be completed as part of your academic program or afterward. They must comprise all of the following:

  • Psychopathology, personality, and abnormal behavior
  • Evaluation
  • Diagnosis
  • Prevention and intervention methods
  • Treatment

Although approved programs include the same core, you will find differences in the focus or emphasis. The Ohio Counseling Association lists 21 in-state graduate counseling programs (Click Here for the List). Several have a theological component.

You will have less documentation to do if your program has been pre-approved by the Ohio board. While Ohio standards are modeled after those of the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Programs (CACREP), CACREP-accreditation and Ohio pre-approval are separate processes.

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.

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

Practicum and Internship

While enrolled in graduate studies, you will need to complete both a practicum and an internship. The current requirement is that the practicum be at least 100 hours with at least 40 hours of direct client contact. The internship must be at least 600 hours with at least 240 hours of direct client contact. (Internships begun before September 30, 1997, though, have less stringent requirements.)

You may need to register as a counselor trainee while you are fulfilling your internship requirements.

You may email Simeon.Frazier@cswb.state.oh.us about the trainee process if necessary. The board requests, however, that you allow two weeks for your application to be processed before you make inquiries.

At the end of your internship, your supervisor will evaluate you and mail the rating form to the board.

Applications

Here is a link to the application forms for Counselor Trainee (CT), Professional Counselor (PC), and Professional Clinical Counselor (PCC): Click Here.

Criminal Background Checks

In order to be registered or credentialed at any level, you must complete a criminal background check through both the BCI and FBI. You should download the appropriate form and take it to the police or motor vehicle department or to a web check vendor.

You should include one of the following as your reason for needing fingerprints:

  • ORC 4757.101
  • CSWMFT Board
  • Required for Licensure

If you are out of state, the process will take a little longer. You may email cswmft.info@cswb.state.oh.us to get the materials you’ll need.

Examinations

Ohio's licensing examinations are administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). You will take the National Counselor Examination to become a PC and later take the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination to become a PCC.

You will get an eligibility letter and registration forms from the Ohio board by submitting a request form along with the required educational validation.

You will find the NCE request form online (http://cswmft.ohio.gov/pdfs/PCReqExm.pdf). This is your first step in the professional application process. If you are in an approved program, you can apply to take the NCE as early as your final semester; you will submit a letter from the school. If you are not in a pre-approved program, you will send your transcripts after your degree has been conferred.

Fees are currently $165 for the NCE and $145 for the NCMHCE, but are subject to change.

Tests take four hours and are given Monday through Saturday for two weeks each month; some sites, however, do not have Saturday hours. You may register for exams at any AMP testing site. Ohio's testing sites are in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Toledo.

The board should receive your test scores four weeks after the end of the week that you tested.

You may email questions about the exam process to examinations@nbcc.org

Licensure also requires passing a Laws and Rules Exam. This is administered online at https://www.cswmft.ohio.gov/exam/Default.aspx. When you complete the exam, you may email your results to rena.elliott@cswb.state.oh.us or fax them to 614-728-7790.

Supervised Practice

Before you can achieve the highest level of licensing, PCC, you will need to fulfill a supervised practice obligation. You will need to complete at least two years of supervised practice. A year must include at least 1,500 hours of counseling work, at least half of them in clinical client service; you must be involved in the evaluation and treatment of mental disorders.

As a PC, you can practice under supervision. However, you will need to complete additional paperwork to become a PC/ Clinical Resident.

You should have an hour of direct supervision for every 20 hours that you work (http://cswmft.ohio.gov/pdfs/CRSupv.pdf). You will need a total of 150 direct face-to-face supervision hours over the course of two years. You will need to log all supervision.

Eventually, you will need to have each of your supervisors fill out a “Clinical Field Evaluation & Evaluation and Verification of Supervised Experience” form.

Materials may be sent to the following address:

Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage & Family Therapist Board
50 West Broad Street, Suite 1075
Columbus, OH 43215

Out of State Applicants

In order to be licensed by endorsement, you will need to have a qualifying degree (http://cswmft.ohio.gov/pdfs/ConOSInf.pdf). A qualifying degree is one that is designed to prepare counselors and that includes coursework in the core areas.

If you have a qualifying degree, but it does not meet Ohio's curricular standards in areas related to the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders, you may take additional coursework post-degree. The post-master’s requirement could include courses in the following areas:

  • Clinical psychopathology, personality, and abnormal behavior
  • Methods of prevention and intervention of mental and emotional disorders
  • Evaluation of mental and emotional disorders
  • Diagnosis of mental and emotional disorders
  • Treatment of mental and emotional disorders

You must have a separate course in each of the above; you will need to have a total of 20 semester hours in related areas.

If you took a different examination in another jurisdiction, the board may or may not judge it equivalent. If you need to take the NCE in Ohio, and you are applying by endorsement, you will note this on your application.

If the board determines that, based on your education, you are not entitled to take the exam, you may request a hearing (http://codes.ohio.gov/oac/4757-13-01).

As a foreign applicant, you may be licensed if your education is judged to be equivalent.

License Maintenance

As a Professional Counselor or Professional Clinical Counselor, you will need to renew your license every two years. During this time, you will take 30 clock hours of continuing education, three of them in ethics. Generally, you will take pre-approved classes, but some forms of continuing education, like online classes, may need to be submitted for approval later.

Additional Information

If you are still in high school, hold a high school diploma/GED, or hold an undergraduate degree, explore suggested steps to take along the path to becoming a counselor in Ohio.

You may call the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage & Family Therapist Board at 614-466-0912.

The Ohio Counseling Association and the Ohio Mental Health Counselor Association are professional organizatios you may want to explore.

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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.