Licensure is a state-level activity. Counselor certifications are either national or state in scope.
Depending on each state counselor regulatory legislation, becoming state licensed as a professional counselor lets the public know that the counselor is qualified to provide general mental health assessments, counseling, and other psychotherapeutic services to treat individuals with mental disorders and related mental health issues. Fifty states and the District of Columbia have counselor licensure or related regulatory laws for the practice of counseling and/or the use of the "counselor" title. All state counselor licensure laws require a minimum of a master's degree in counseling or a closely related area, supervised work experience, and the passing of an approved examination. In addition, most states require a minimum number of graduate credit hours of counselor training (usually 48 to 60 semester credit hours) and two to three years of post master's degree supervised counseling experience in order to become licensed. Professional counselors must be licensed in order to practice independently and enter private practice in states which have counselor licensure laws.
Graduates of the Clinical Counseling program (62 semester hours) are eligible for North Carolina licensure as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) after two years of post masters counseling experience and the passing of an exam. State counselor licensure went into effect July 1, 1994 and is required to diagnose and treat mental health disorders and for private counseling practice. Insurance companies, including Blue Cross/Blue Shield in North Carolina, have included LPCs as recognized mental health providers of counseling and psychotherapy services. Most states have reciprocity arrangements for the LPC or equivalent credential
Graduates of the Clinical Counseling Program are eligible for the LCAS status after 1 year of post-graduate practice overseen by a supervisor with the Certification in Clinical Supervision (CCS) or Clinical Supervisor -Intern (CSI) credential, and passing of an exam
For additional information about counselor licensure see the American Association of State Counseling Boards website (
www.aascb.org), which lists contact information of all state counselor licensure boards.
Counselor certifications indicate those specialty areas of counseling and psychotherapy in which the counselor has received additional training and supervised counseling experience.
There are two main national counselor certifying bodies: The Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) and the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). States regulate the practice of substance abuse counseling through licensure and/or certification. The North Carolina Substance Abuse and Professional Practice Board (
www.ncsappb.org) provides both licensure (i.e. LCAS) and certification (e.g. Certified Substance Abuse Counselor; CSAC) for substance abuse professionals in North Carolina. The International Certification and Reciprocity Commission (IC&RC) sets the minimum standards for states to follow in regulating substance abuse practice.
The NBCC, established in 1982, sets standards and offers four certifications, including general counseling (NCC; National Certified Counselor), and the specialty areas of clinical mental health counseling (CCMHC), addictions counseling (MAC), and school counseling (NCSC). NBCC has approximately 42,000 counselors.
All states require school counselors to hold state school counseling certification. Other national and state organizations and agencies have set standards and offer licensure or certifications to qualified counselors in such areas as career counseling, case management, disability management, hypnotherapy, marriage and family therapy, pastoral counseling, transactional analysis, rehabilitation counseling.
State counselor licensure boards and the national certification organizations require an examination to achieve their credentials and continuing education in order to maintain them. Counselors are required to follow the code of ethics associated with their respective licensure and certification boards.
Graduates of the Clinical Counseling program typically seek the Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist (LSAS) and Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) credentials after graduation. (See
Student Resources for a summary of the criteria for these credentials.)
Faculty routinely complete the appropriate forms, verifying completion of supervised clinical field experiences, in order to endorse those graduates successfully completing the Counseling Practicum and Internship with a grade of A or B. Faculty endorsement of students receiving a grade of C in a clinical field experience is determined on a case-by-case basis, by each faculty involved with the clinical supervision of the student. This same criteria is used when endorsing students for employment.