What Are The Educational Requirements To Be A Counselor?

"What type of training or licensing is necessary to be a counselor? I live in Ohio. What degree do I need in order to counsel people in a private practice? Are there any specific laws in my state?"

asked by John from Westlake, OH

Requirements for counselors vary from state to state but most states require a Master’s degree, supervised experience, an examination, a state license, and adherence to a code of ethics. Generally speaking, the degree must be obtained from an accredited program that provides adequate training in human development, ethical practice, and technique.

Many schools offer specialty degrees as well such as marriage and family counseling, community counseling, mental health counseling, or school counseling. Supervised experience involves completing a practicum and/or internship with a counselor who is licensed to be a supervisor of trainee counselors.

The typical examination is the National Counselor Examination (NCE). Licensing laws vary widely by state. The code of ethics may vary also but generally includes components related to dual relationships, confidentiality, and record keeping.

In the state of Ohio you must hold a Professional Counselor (PC) license to legally practice. In order to obtain this license you must hold a graduate degree in counseling from an accredited institution including the completion of a 100 hour practicum and a 600 hour internship.

The degree must consist of at least 90 quarter hours or 60 semester hours of graduate coursework covering the following core subjects:

In addition, your degree must reflect 30 quarter hours or 20 semester hours of coursework in the following: psychological and educational methods of intervention, culturally sensitive intervention techniques, intervention strategies, and treatment of emotional and mental disorders.

In Ohio you must also pass a state licensing exam, be of good moral character, pass the state board’s Law and Rules exam, and get a criminal background check. Once you have completed these steps you will receive a PC license. This license allows you to practice under supervision. You can then work towards a Professional Clinical Counselor (PCC) license which will allow you to work independently or a Supervision (PCC-S) license which will allow you to work independently and supervise other counselors.

You can find all of these requirements at the Ohio licensing board’s website (www.cswmft.ohio.gov).

For information about requirements in another state, you can visit your state’s licensing board website for more information

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