How to Become a Licensed Counselor in California

The state of California recently introduced licensure requirements for professional counselors. To become a licensed counselor in California, you’ll now have to be licensed by the Board of Behavioral Sciences. This will earn you a credential as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) and permit you to practice in the State.

Counselors in various specialties including those already licensed as Clinical Social Workers and Marriage Therapists and Family Counselors can also pursue the new credentials. The state has a range of requirements for candidates in various categories as shown below.

Requirements for Licensed Counselor in California

The new requirements to practice as a licensed counselor in California vary, based on different categories of applicants, such as those who have studied in different states or those who began their studies before or after August 2012.

Education Requirements for Applicants Who Began Studies Before 2012

If you enrolled for a graduate degree program before August in 2012 and expect to complete by December 31 2018, you must cover a master’s or a doctoral degree of not less than 48 semester hours from an accredited institution. The course work covers counseling or psychotherapy, which also includes supervised practicum.

The program content includes seven out of the following nine content areas and no more that two can be added after degree to meet the 48 semester hour unit requirement.

  1. Counseling and psychotherapy, which includes theories of counseling and various counseling interventions
  2. Human growth and development, which includes developmental crises, psychopathology as well as normal and abnormal behavior.
  3. Theories and techniques of career development
  4. Theories and techniques of group counseling
  5. Theories and techniques of multicultural counseling
  6. Assessment, appraisal and testing
  7. Principles of diagnosis and treatment planning as well as prevention of mental or emotional disorders
  8. Research and evaluation
  9. Professional orientation and ethics as well as law in counseling

Besides the above requirements, the program also includes advanced coursework of not less than 12 semester units in developing knowledge of specific treatment issues, counseling constructs application, special populations, treatment planning, therapeutic relationships, clinical interventions, psychopathology topics or other topics in clinical category.

Additional Educational Requirements for a Licensed Counselor in California

To meet the criteria for a licensed counselor in California, you’ll also need to fulfill the following educational requirements, either as university courses or ongoing education courses.

These include contact hours of instruction in:

  • alcoholism and other drug or chemical dependency (15hours)
  • Human sexuality (10 hours)
  • Child abuse assessment, reporting (7 hours)
  • Spousal/ partner abuse (15 hours)
  • California law and professional ethics – if not factored in as part of core content (at least 18 hours)
  • Aging and long term care (minimum 10 hours)
  • Trauma or crisis counseling (at least 15 hours)

In addition you’ll be required to take a two semester or ¾ unit of psychopharmacology survey course. While the course may be taken post-degree, it has to be a graduate or a undergraduate credit.

Supervised Experience for a Licensed Counselor in California

You’ll need to accumulate post-degree supervised experience of not less 3000 hours under LPCC, LCSW, LMFT licensed psychologist or physician and surgeon who must have held certification in psychiatry in the state of California, through American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. The supervisor must also have attained at least 1750 hours of counseling, dealing directly with groups or individuals in a mental health setting, and one hundred and fifty hours of counseling in a community mental health or hospital setting.

Exam Requirements to Become a Licensed Counselor in California

Candidates must attain a passing score on the National Clinical Mental Health examination as well as on LPCC Law and Ethics test.

Requirements for Applicants with Out-of-State Education

Applicants LPCC or LMFT who have received their education out of state are required to meet specific educational requirements. The requirements are likely to increase but while registered as interns, applicants are allowed to remediate certain courses through continuing education. The law also gives some advantages to applicants with out of state license.

Out-of-state Applicants Qualifying Degree

  1. You must have a 48 unit degree if you began your degree before August 2012
  2. You must a 60 unit degree if you began your education after 2012. However you may be able to remediate up to 12 units as a registered intern in California.

Coursework for Out-of-Sate Applicants for Licensed Counselor in California

If you received a degree out-of-state, you’ll be required to submit a course outline or syllabi, covering specific content areas. If you can’t obtain one from the university then you should submit the description of such courses using the university catalog, whose admissibility will have to be sanctioned by the board.

Exceptions to submit syllabi is given to applicants who obtained degrees before 2001 through CACREP-accredited program with the exception of a few courses such as diagnosis, psychopharmacology, addictions, trauma and advance counseling.

The required 13 courses are stated as follows:

  1. Theories and approaches to counseling and psychotherapy
  2. Human growth
  3. Theories and techniques of group counseling
  4. Assessment and appraisal as well as testing
  5. Theories and techniques in career development
  6. Treatment planning, prevention of emotional and mental disorders and principles of diagnosis.
  7. Theories and approaches of multicultural counseling
  8. Counseling Research and Evaluation
  9. Law, ethics in counseling and professional orientation
  10. Psychopharmacology
  11. Counseling in Addictions course
  12. Theories and techniques of psychotherapy and advanced counseling
  13. Counseling in Trauma

Should your degree be deficient in less than 6 of the listed 13 content areas, you may cover such deficiencies through completion of graduate credit coursework similar to 3 semester units for each core content area.

If you want to practice in California and have not been licensed out of state, you’ll be required to remediate the above coursework before you can obtain CA State’s license or registration for internship.

Law and Ethics Core Coursework in California

If you have completed a professional orientation and ethics and law course that did not include lessons in California law and ethics, you’ll be required to complete an 18 hour course continuing education in state’s law and ethics before becoming a licensed counselor in California or before you can be registered as an intern.

Additional coursework and out-of state applicants’ practicum requirement can be accessed here.

Related posts

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.