Idaho’s Division of Occupational and Professionals Licenses (DOPL), Licensing Board of Professional Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists –henceforth the “State Board”– issues the licenses you need if you want to be a counselor.
There are three levels of licensure in Idaho. The first is Registered Intern (RI), which allows you to accrue hours of supervised experience to qualify for the next credential level: the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).
As an LPC you can engage in professional counseling independently. This includes activities like:
- Case management
- Crisis intervention
- Consulting, assessments, and referrals
- Treatment of mental disorders
- Guidance and consultation to facilitate normal growth
- Individuals, couples, family, and group counseling
With additional experience and demonstrated ability you can become a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC). This is the highest level of licensure and allows you to engage in clinical counseling in addition to professional counseling.
Steps Towards Counseling Licensure in Idaho
The basic steps towards becoming licensed as an RI, LPC, and ultimately an LCPC are as follows:
- Earn a qualifying graduate degree in Counseling that includes a practicum
- Become an RI
- Fulfill the LPC’s supervised experience requirement
- Pass the NCE exam from the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)
- Become an LPC
- Fulfill the LCPC’s supervised experience requirement
- Pass the NBCC’s NCMHCE exam
- Become an LCPC
Throughout this process you can check the status of your license application and license by searching for your name in this directory.
Registered Intern (RI)
- Fulfill the education requirement by earning a graduate degree in Counseling. The practicum component of your education program can be completed after you’ve become an RI. Have your school send your official transcripts to the State Board.
- Locate a supervisor. As an RI you must work under supervision in an arrangement that’s approved by the State Board. You can locate a State Board-approved supervisor in this directory. Have your supervisor fill out the Supervisor Affidavit section on your application for licensure.
- Submit an application for RI licensure to the State Board. The application fee is $25. Once the State Board approves your application it will issue your RI license. Also known as a Counselor Intern, as an RI you can accrue hours to fulfill the LPC supervised experience requirement. You can practice as an RI for a maximum of four years, after which time you must become an LPC.
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
- Fulfill the education requirement by earning a qualifying graduate degree in Counseling that includes a practicum. Have your school send your official transcripts to the State Board.
- Fulfill the supervised experience requirement. You need to accrue 1,000 hours of experience working in a counseling setting. 400 of these hours must be in direct client care. You need one hour of one-to-one supervision for every 20 hours of job experience. You complete this in-state as an RI. Your supervisor will keep track of your supervision on a Supervision Log. Once you’ve fulfilled this requirement have your supervisor fill out an LPC Evaluation and Verification of Supervised Experience form. Your supervisor will return this to you in a signed sealed envelope which you must include with your application for licensure.
- Pass the NBCC’s National Counselor Examination (NCE). You can take this once you’ve earned your graduate degree in Counseling and you don’t need pre-authorization from the State Board to register with the NBCC. Designate the State Board as a recipient for your exam scores.
- Submit an application for LPC licensure to the State Board. The application fee is $200. Once the State Board approves your application it will issue your LPC license.
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC)
- Be an LPC.
- Fulfill the LCPC supervised experience requirement. This is 2,000 hours of direct client contact under supervision completed over a period of at least two years. As part of this you must gain 1,000 hours of supervised experience under a State Board-approved LCPC. You can find a list of Board-approved LCPC supervisors here. The remaining 1,000 hours can be completed under the supervision of a licensed mental health professional supervisor. You need to earn clinical supervision at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours of direct client contact. Once you’ve fulfilled this requirement have your supervisor fill out an LCPC Evaluation and Verification of Supervised Experience form. Your supervisor will return this to you in a signed sealed envelope which you must include with your application for licensure.
- Pass the NBCC’s National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). You can take this once you’ve earned your graduate degree in Counseling and you don’t need pre-authorization from the State Board to register with the NBCC. Designate the State Board as a recipient for your exam scores.
- Submit an application for LCPC licensure to the State Board. The application fee is $200. Once the State Board approves your application it will issue your LCPC license.
Becoming a Supervisor
You can opt to become a State Board-approved supervisor if you’ve held an LPC or LCPC license for at least two years. To qualify you need to have 1,500 hours of direct client contact as a counselor and complete 15 hours of supervisor training. Submit proof of this training along with an application to the State Board.
Renewing the LPC and LCPC Licenses
The LPC and LCPC licenses expire every year. Six weeks before your license is set to expire the State Board will send you a renewal application. To renew you can return this application by mail or renew online. The renewal fee for either license is $120. To be eligible for renewal you must attest to completing 40 hours of continuing education every two years.
A supervisor designation is valid for five years. To be eligible for renewal you must complete six hours of continuing education in advanced supervisor training during each five-year cycle. You can renew your supervisor designation online or by mailing in this form.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Counselor in Idaho?
Each successive counselor licensure level takes an increasing time investment. You can expect to invest four years into earning a bachelor’s degree and an additional two years into earning a qualifying master’s degree in Counseling. At this point, after six years, you can qualify for the RI license. From here it will take you:
- 1,000 hours of supervised experience to become an LPC; about half a year of full-time experience.
- An additional 2,000 hours of supervised experience to become an LCPC, and this must be completed over a minimum of two years, bringing the total time investment for becoming an LCPC to about 8.5 years.
You can qualify for an LPC or LCPC license via endorsement if you’ve been actively licensed in an equivalent role out-of-state. To qualify you must have been practicing for five of the past seven years on your license.
Submit an application for licensure via endorsement to the Idaho State Board along with a $200 application fee. Also request your out-of-state Board of Counseling to send official verification of your license to the Idaho State Board.
Practicums and Internships
Your degree program must include a practicum that’s at least six semester credits (nine quarter credits). The practicum must be at least two semester courses. You need 280 hours of supervised direct client contact that includes one-to-one supervision. This must be in a 10:1 ratio; one hour of one-to-one supervision for every 10 hours of client contact.
To confirm your education program included a qualifying practicum, fill out a Counselor Coursework Addendum and include this with your LPC application for licensure. You can apply graduate-level supervised practicum experience towards fulfilling the LPC’s supervised experience requirement.
CACREP-accredited programs are understood to automatically include a qualifying practicum and you don’t need to fill out an addendum.
Idaho law defines the term “practicum” to include an internship.
The State Board recognizes the following exams which are sponsored by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC):
- National Counselor Examination (NCE) – Required for LPC licensure
- National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) – Required for LCPC licensure
You can register for either of these exams once you’ve earned your graduate degree. You don’t need pre-authorization to register from the State Board. To register you’ll go through the NBCC’s affiliated organization, the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE), by creating an online account through the CCE’s ProCounselor portal.
Both exams are taken on a computer at a local testing center. You’ll have at least three hours to complete either exam. The NCE is comprised of 200 multiple-choice questions covering the core content of your graduate program in Counseling. The NCMHCE evaluates your responses to 10 different clinical simulations. You can find out more about these exams through the NCE and NCMHCE handbooks.
Required Education and Degrees
There are two ways to fulfill the education requirement for becoming a licensed counselor at any level in Idaho. The most straightforward way is by earning a graduate degree that’s primarily counseling in nature from a program that’s accredited by the Council on the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
Right now there are three schools in Idaho offering 11 graduate programs that are CACREP-accredited. These include:
- Three Master of Science (MS) programs
- Four Master of Counseling (M. Coun.) programs
- Two Master of Arts (MA) programs
- Two PhD programs
You can also fulfill the education requirement for licensure with a graduate degree that’s primarily in counseling from a non-CACREP-accredited school if your program is from a school that’s accredited by a regional body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Your degree must be at least 60 semester credits (90 quarter credits) and include at least one course covering each of the following topics:
- Professional orientation
- Evaluation and research
- Appraisal of the individual
- Career and lifestyle development
- The Helping Relationship
- Cultural and social foundations
- Human growth and development
To confirm you’ve met this curriculum requirement fill out a Counselor Coursework Addendum and include this with your LPC application for licensure.
Your degree program must include a qualifying practicum. CACREP-accredited programs are understood to automatically include this.
Note that in 2017 the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) merged with CACREP.
The Department of Labor reported the following average annual salaries for a range of counseling careers in Idaho:
- Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors – $48,170
- Marriage and Family Therapists – $50,340
- Rehabilitation Counselors – $40,420
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor – $48,160
- Occupational Therapists – $83,980
Types of Counseling Careers
From the counseling careers listed above, the US Department of Labor reports a total of 5,770 professionals working throughout Idaho. Of those:
- 29% are Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors
- 2% are Marriage and Family Therapists
- 27% are Rehabilitation Counselors
- 30% are Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
- 12% are Occupational Therapists
Idaho Counseling Association (ICA) – Leadership and networking opportunities like an annual conference are just a few of benefits ICA members enjoy. Counselors who want to focus on a specific issue have seven sub-organizations they can be a part of including the Idaho Association of Counseling and Supervision (IACES), the Idaho Mental Health Counselors Association (IMHCA), the Idaho Career Development Association (ICDA), and the Idaho Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues in Counseling (IALGBTIC).
Idaho Mental Health Counselors Association (IMHCA) – By promoting professional development, licensing, education, and advocacy, the IMHCA strives to enhance the profession of clinical mental health counseling. Among other services it sponsors regular networking events like meetings, trainings, consultation groups, and conferences.
Idaho School Counselor Association (ISCA) – Also an associated division of the ICA, within this profession this organization is dedicated to promoting advancement and development, fostering partnerships, and advocacy.
Idaho Career Development Association (ICDA) – Serving as a hub for professional connections and collaboration, the ICDA’s ultimate goal is to promote the career development of everyone no matter what stage in life they’re at. Members enjoy privileged in-depth information.
Idaho Affiliate of the National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) – This organization provides info on its own certification programs, networking opportunities, and local as well as national links to resources. It sees the coming year as a new chapter in its development, which may be a hint at expanded leadership opportunities.
Idaho Behavioral Health – An important component of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, this agency is in charge of four programs that are vital to residents and well known to counselors: Adult Behavioral Health, Children’s Behavioral Health, Substance Use Disorders, and Suicide Prevention.
North Idaho Community Mental Health – Providing services for adults, children, and their families, this organization is proud to be a comprehensive mental health agency. Services offered include those that address issues like habilitative support, intervention, peer support, community-based rehab, substance abuse treatment, and more.
Ambitions of Idaho – From offices throughout the Treasure Valley area and in Coeur d’Alene, this multi-disciplinary agency specializes in providing services for adults, children, and families that relate to developmental disabilities and behavioral health. Therapies offered include individual, group, and counseling, as well as social service assistance.
Idaho Behavioral Health – With offices based in Boise, Caldwell, Mountain Home, and Nampa, this organization is poised to offer clients its best. Its team of LCPCs, LPCs, master social workers, and clinical social workers ensures these mental health practitioners have a diverse and multi-disciplinary background of professional knowledge and support to draw from.
Omega Health Services – This team of counselors, social workers, marriage and family therapists, physicians, and nurse practitioners makes sure that clients have access to the best therapeutic and medical services available. A range of professional expertise ensures a broad and comprehensive approach to therapies for issues like substance abuse, OCD, ADHD, depression, PTSD, insomnia, and bipolar disorder.