Connecticut’s Department of Public Health, Professional Counselor Licensing (PCL) issues the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) credential you need if you want to engage in the practice of independent professional counseling throughout the state. Before you can become fully licensed as an LPC you’ll need to complete a period of supervised counseling work experience as a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate (LPCA).
Steps Towards Counseling Licensure in Connecticut
The basic steps you’ll need to take to become fully licensed as an LPC are as follows:
- Earn a qualifying graduate degree in Counseling that includes a practicum and internship
- Become an LPCA and complete at least two years of supervised counseling experience
- Pass an exam sponsored by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)
- Apply for licensure as an LPC
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Licensed Professional Counselor Associate (LPCA)
- Fulfill the education requirement by earning a qualifying graduate degree in Counseling that includes a practicum and internship. Have your school complete this form and send it to PCL, along with your official transcripts.
- Find a supervisor. The purpose of becoming an LPCA is to fulfill the LPC’s supervised experience requirement. You need to enter details about your supervisor on your application for LPCA licensure. Licensed professionals who are authorized to provide you with qualifying supervision are: 1.) LPCs 2.) Advanced practice registered nurses 3.)Psychologists 4.)Marriage and family therapists 6.)Clinical social workers
- Create an account with Connecticut’s eLicense Online. You can submit an application for LPCA licensure through this account. The application fee is $220. Once PCL approves your application it will issue your LPCA license.
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
- Fulfill the supervised experience requirement. This is 3,000 hours of post-graduate professional counseling experience earned under supervision. It must include at least 100 hours of direct supervision. This must be completed over a minimum of two years. Once you’ve completed this requirement you and your supervisor will fill out a Verification of Supervised Experience form, and your supervisor will submit this to PCL.
- Fulfill the exam requirement. Before you can become an LPC you must pass one of the following exams sponsored by the NBCC. Pre-authorization from PCL is not required to register for either. Designate PCL as an approved recipient of your exam scores when you register with the NBCC for either of these exams: 1.) National Counselor Examination (NCE) 2.)National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE)
- Submit an application for LPC licensure through your online eLicense account. The application fee is $315. Once PCL approves your application it will issue your LPC license.
Renewing Your License
LPCA and LPC licenses expire every year. The renewal fee is $195. To be eligible to renew your license you must complete 15 hours of continuing education every year. You can find information on renewing your license through your online eLicense account.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Counselor in Connecticut?
You can expect to invest at least eight years into becoming fully licensed as an LPC. It takes around six years to fulfill the education requirement and become an LPCA: four years to earn a bachelor’s degree and two additional years to earn a master’s degree in Counseling. From there you need to invest two years into gaining supervised counseling experience as an LPCA to qualify for full licensure as an LPC.
You can apply for an LPC license in Connecticut via endorsement if you hold an equivalent out-of-state license in another state that’s free from disciplinary actions and unresolved complaints. To be eligible, the requirements for your LPC license must be substantially similar to Connecticut’s. If you’ve gained at least three years of professional counseling experience out-of-state you can use this to fulfill the Connecticut LPC’s supervised experience requirement. You can apply by creating an online eLicense account. Have your state’s Board of Counseling send official verification of your out-of-state LPC license to PCL.
Practicums and Internships
The degree program you use to fulfill the education requirement must include a practicum and internship. The counseling practicum must be at least 100 hours. The internship must be at least 600 hours in clinical mental health counseling. Both must be taught by faculty members who are LPCs.
CACREP-accredited programs are understood to automatically include a qualifying practicum and internship.
You can qualify for the LPC license by passing either one of the following exams sponsored by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC):
- National Counselor Examination (NCE)
- National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE)
You have at least three hours to complete either exam, and both are taken on a computer at a local testing center. The NCE is comprised of 200 multiple-choice questions that cover core course content from your graduate degree. The NCMHCE asks you questions based on 10 different virtual clinical simulations. You can find out more information about both exams through the NCE and NCMHCE handbooks.
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The NBCC has contracted with an affiliated organization to administer its exams, the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE). The CCE manages the online ProCounselor portal you use to register for either exam. You don’t need pre-approval from PCL to register for an exam.
Required Education and Degrees
You can fulfill the education requirement for licensure as an LPCA or LPC in two different ways.
One way is to earn a graduate degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from a program that’s accredited by the Council on the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
Right now in Connecticut there are five schools offering Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MS) degrees in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
The other way of fulfilling the education requirement for licensure is to earn a graduate degree in Counseling or a related mental health field that’s at least 60 semester credits and accredited by a regional body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Your degree program must include coursework in each of the following subject areas:
- Human growth and development
- Cultural and social foundations
- Counseling theories
- Counseling techniques
- Group counseling
- Career counseling
- Tests or appraisals and measurements to groups and individuals
- Evaluation and research
- Mental health counseling professional orientation
- Substance abuse and addiction counseling
- Crisis and trauma counseling
- Treatment and diagnosis of emotional and mental disorders
Make sure your degree program includes a qualifying practicum and internship. CACREP-accredited programs are understood to automatically include these.
Related mental health fields are considered to be:
- Social work
- Marriage and family therapy
The US Department of Labor reports the following average annual salary statistics for a range of counselor careers in 2020, specifically for Connecticut:
- Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors – $65,890
- Marriage and Family Therapists – $54,790
- Rehabilitation Counselors – $44,490
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor – $55,530
- Counselors, all others – $57,390
- Occupational Therapists – $92,770
- Therapists, all other – $68,210
Types of Counseling Careers
From the counseling careers examined above, the US Department of Labor reports a total of 14,470 professionals employed throughout Connecticut. Of those:
- 29% are Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors
- 29% are Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
- 18% are Rehabilitation Counselors
- 18% are Occupational Therapists
- 3% are Counselors, all others
- 3% are Marriage and Family Therapists
- 1% are Therapists, all others
Connecticut Counseling Association (CCA) – With roots stretching back all the way to 1927, the CCA is proud of its heritage and the professional support it offers to students, LPCAs, LPCs, and its members. It provides opportunities for networking and professional development, and links to counseling resources.
Connecticut Association for Addiction Professionals (CAAP) – This non-profit organization wants to do all it can for professionals involved in this field. One of its primary means of achieving this goal is through legislative advocacy. It also keeps tabs on the latest news developments.
Connecticut School Counselor Association (CSCA) – This organization does a ton for the profession. In addition to developing new and supportive programs for its members it also advocates for the programs and role of school counselors in general. With achievements spanning more than 100 years it’s a great resource for professionals in this field.
Mental Health Connecticut (MHC) – This organization specializes in advocating for expanded mental health services that are improved and accessible to all. It values community-based services that ensure wholeness and access to mental health services for everyone. It maintains channels for legislative advocacy as well as extensive community contacts.
National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) Connecticut – Serving as a proud local sponsor of its national parent organization, when it comes to mental health this branch supports, advocates, and educates at the local level. It’s proud to include 300 program volunteers, to reach over 10,000 people, and to host 72 support groups statewide.
Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) – A vitally important statewide agency for some of Connecticut’s most vulnerable populations, the DMHAS offers resources for a range of critical issues to help improve the quality of life for those it serves.
Community Mental Health Affiliates (CMHA) – This organization is proud to be a leading provider of behavioral health care services for families, children, and adults throughout the greater New Britain area. It additionally offers programs tailored to addressing substance abuse issues. With over 40 years of experience it’s one of the largest behavioral healthcare providers in the state.
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Coastal Connecticut Counseling – Based in Southport, this organization is dedicated to helping its clients fulfill their mental and behavioral health goals. Its team includes multiple LPCAs, LPCs, clinical social workers, master social workers, and marriage and family therapists. This makes for a strong interdisciplinary framework that centers clients.
Southwest Community Health Center – With roots stretching back to 1976, this not-for-profit healthcare provider offers a range of services from medical to dental to mental health from six Bridgeport locations. Clients can also find help for dealing with substance abuse issues.
Connecticut Mental Health Center Foundation – A collaborative partnership between the state and higher education, this center was founded in 1966. Today it treats over 5,000 clients a year who all come from a background of poverty with little-to-no insurance. This foundation is known for treating serious mental illnesses including depression, psychosis, anxiety, and co-occurring addiction issues.