The Kansas Behavioral Science Regulatory Board (BSRB) issues the credentials you need if you want to engage in professional counseling throughout the state. The Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) credential allows you to engage in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders under the direction of a qualified mental health provider. As an LPC you can accrue hours of experience that you need to become a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), the next level up from being an LPC. As an LCPC you can engage in the same scope of practice as an LPC independently.
Steps Towards Counseling Licensure in Kansas
To become licensed as an LPC and then an LCPC you need to proceed through these basic steps:
- Earn a qualifying graduate degree in Counseling or a related field that includes a practicum, internship or other field experience.
- Pass the NCE exam sponsored by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).
- Become licensed as an LPC and accrue hours to fulfill the LCPC supervised experience requirement.
- Pass the NCMHCE exam sponsored by the NBCC.
- Apply for an LCPC license.
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Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
- Fulfill the education requirement with a qualifying graduate degree in Counseling that includes a practicum, internship, or other field experience. Have your school send your official transcripts to the BSRB.
- Find three people who are familiar with your character and your counseling work who will be your references. Send them a reference form that you’ll find in your LPC application packet, and have them return it to you in a closed envelope that has their signature across the seal. Include these with your LPC application. Your references must be LPCs or licensed professionals in similar fields. One must be the on-site supervisor from your education program’s practicum or internship, and if they are unavailable, your program’s graduate director.
- Submit an application packet for LPC licensure to the BSRB, along with a $50 application fee. Once the BSRB approves your application it will notify the NBCC that you’re cleared to register for its NCE exam. If you’ve met all the requirements for licensure except having passed the exam you can indicate on your application that you’d like a six-month non-renewable temporary license. This will allow you to practice under the supervision of a licensed independent mental health professional while you wait to take the exam.
- Register with the NBCC for its NCE exam. Once the BSRB receives notification that you’ve passed this it will issue your LPC license.
- Start accruing hours to fulfill the LCPC’s supervised experience requirement. You’ll need to find a qualified supervisor who will fill out their portion of a Clinical Supervision Training Plan. You’ll need to fill out your portion of this too. Once you’ve submitted this to the BSRB and it’s been approved you can start accruing qualifying hours of supervised experience.
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC)
- Fulfill the education requirement. In addition to the education required to become an LPC, you must complete an LCPC-qualifying practicum and have completed at least 15 qualifying graduate semester credits in the diagnosis or treatment of mental disorders.
- Fulfill the supervised experience requirement. This is post-graduate supervised professional counseling experience totaling at least 4,000 hours completed over at least two years. It must include at least 1,500 hours of direct client contact, at least 150 hours of clinical supervision, and at least 50 hours of person-to-person individual supervision. One half of this requirement can be waived if you fulfilled your education requirement with a qualifying doctoral degree. You complete this in-state as an LPC. To verify you’ve completed this your supervisor will fill out the form in Section 2 of your licensure application packet and return this to you in a closed envelope that’s signed across the seal. Include this as part of your LCPC application packet.
- Demonstrate your ability to diagnose and treat mental disorders. You do this by passing the NBCC’s National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) and meeting one of following two options. Forms for verifying these are included in the LCPC application packet:Option One Have three years of practice in a clinical or community mental health center, state mental hospital, or other setting that included experience in diagnosing and treating mental disorders.Option Two – Obtain an attestation from an LCPC or other licensed independent professional who can diagnose and treat mental disorders –or a doctor or surgeon– that you’re competent to diagnose and treat mental disorders.
- Submit an application packet to transfer your LPC to an LCPC license, along with a $50 application fee, to the BSRB. Once the BSRB approves your application it will notify the NBCC that you’re cleared to register for the NCMHCE exam. After the BSRB is notified you’ve passed the NCMHCE exam it will issue your LCPC license.
Becoming a qualified supervisor:
As an LCPC you can become a qualified supervisor for LPCs if you’ve had your LCPC license for at least two years and it’s in active good standing. To qualify you’ll need to complete education that’s related to the enhancement of supervision skills. This needs to be either one semester credit of coursework or 15 hours of continuing education. To apply you can submit this application to the BSRB.
Renewing Your License
The LPC and LCPC licenses expire every two years. You can renew your license by submitting this form to the BSRB. Renewal fees are $100 for the LPC license and $125 for the LCPC license. To be eligible to renew your license you must complete 30 hours of continuing education during each renewal cycle.
If you’re an LCPC who’s an approved supervisor then each time you renew your license you’ll need to complete at least three hours of continuing education that are related to the enhancement of supervision skills, including one hour on supervision ethics.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Counselor in Kansas?
It takes at least six years to qualify for licensure as an LPC, and eight years in total to qualify for licensure as an LCPC. Becoming an LPC means investing six years into education: four years to earn a bachelor’s degree and another two years to earn a master’s degree in Counseling. Once you become an LPC it will take you at least two years to fulfill the supervised experience requirement that will qualify you for LCPC licensure.
If you hold a license in another state that’s equivalent to the LPC or LCPC licenses in Kansas, and your state’s requirements were similar to Kansas’, then you can apply for licensure in Kansas via reciprocity. For full reciprocity you must have engaged in practice as an LPC- or LCPC-equivalent for at least five years, and for LCPCs that also means showing engagement in clinical practice, including the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders, for at least three years.
Use this application packet to apply for licensure via reciprocity. Send the Attachment A Out-of-State Clearance Form that’s in the application packet to your state’s Board of Counseling, and have them return it to the BSRB to verify your out-of-state license.
Practicums and Internships
The degree you earn to fulfill the educational requirement for LPC and LCPC licensure must include a practicum, internship, field training, or laboratory training component. This is a supervised experience that allows you to apply what you’ve learned in the classroom to real-world practice situations in a field setting.
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To qualify for LCPC licensure you must complete a supervised clinical practicum that includes psychotherapy and assessment with individuals, families, couples, or groups. It must integrate the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders, and include at least 350 hours of direct client contact or additional post-graduate supervised experience.
The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) sponsors the two exams your need to pass for licensure in Kansas:
The National Counselor Examination (NCE) for the LPC
The National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) for the LCPC
These are computer-based tests that each allow at least three hours for completion. The NCE is comprised of 200 multiple choice questions. The NCMHCE evaluates your responses to 10 different clinical simulations. You can find out more about these exams through the NCE and NCMHCE handbooks.
Both exams are administered by the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE). The CCE manages the online ProCounselor portal you use to register for an exam once the BSRB has approved your licensure application and notified the NBCC that you’re cleared to test.
Required Education and Degrees
To fulfill the education requirement for LPC and LCPC licensure you must earn a graduate degree in counseling or a related field that’s at least 60 semester credits. At least 45 credits must be distributed in courses that cover the following topics, with a minimum of two credits per topic, and any remaining credits must include an emphasis in counseling:
- Counseling practice and theory
- The helping relationship
- Group dynamics, processes, and counseling approaches and techniques
- Human growth and development
- Lifestyle foundations and career development
- Appraisal of individuals
- Social and cultural foundations
- Evaluation and research
- Professional Orientation
- Supervised practical experience
Your education program must also include a qualifying supervised practicum and internship.
To fulfill the education requirement for the LCPC license you must take 15 semester credits covering the diagnosis or treatment of mental disorders.
Education Standards and Accreditation
The BSRB accepts education from programs that are not below the standards of the Council on the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Right now in Kansas there are three schools offering eight graduate programs that are accredited by the CACREP. These include:
- Four Master of Science (MS) programs
- Three Master of Arts (MA) programs
- One PhD program
The BSRB also accepts education from programs that are accredited by a regional body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), and whose standards are substantially similar to those of the CACREP.
The US Department of Labor reported the following average annual salaries for a range of counseling careers, specifically for Kansas:
- Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors – $52,200
- Marriage and Family Therapists – $43,130
- Rehabilitation Counselors – $32,250
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor – $44,850
- Occupational Therapists – $81,830
- Therapists, all other – $43,670
Types of Counseling Careers
The US Department of Labor reports a total of 6,950 professionals employed in Kansas in the careers listed above. Of those:
- 38% are Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors
- 24% are Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
- 21% are Occupational Therapists
- 13% are Rehabilitation Counselors
- 3% are Marriage and Family Therapists
- 1% are Therapists, all others
Kansas Counseling Association (KCA) – This non-profit organization strives to serve its members and the profession. It does this through a variety of means, including focus committees that concentrate on issues like development, aging, counselor education, counselor supervision, multiculturalism, group work, and more.
Kansas School Counselor Association (KSCA) – This organization promotes the profession by supporting school counselors and students. It hosts conferences and other networking events, promotes leadership within its organization and with awards, and wields a legislative influence that it uses to improve laws and regulations.
Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas (MHASCK) – Helping youths, families, and adults since 1957, this not-for-profit organization sponsors 32 programs that help with issues like job training, smoking cessation, overcoming addictions, and more. It also sponsors events that are great for networking and professional support.
Kansas Association of Addiction Professionals (KAAP) – Serving its members through advocacy and support for decades, this organization is a result of the 1980s merger between the Kansas Alcoholism Counselors Association and the Kansas Association of Drug Abuse Counselors. In 2011 KAAP was instrumental in getting legislation passed defining licensing regulations for counselors.
Kansas Association for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (KAIMH) – With roots stretching back to 1995 when it was founded by professionals who were passionate about early childhood mental health, today the KAIMH has grown into a statewide organization. It hosts events, an annual conference, and provides resources for professionals involved in this field.
Kansas Behavioral Health Services Commission – Working as part of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, this commission is responsible for providing behavioral health services throughout the state. It does this by working with 26 community mental health centers throughout Kansas, as well as overseeing a variety of addiction and prevention programs.
Sedgwick County COMCARE – Serving over 19,000 clients in the local community every year, this organization is the largest of the state’s 27 community mental health centers. It provides a wide range of substance abuse and mental health services.
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Greater Kansas City Mental Health Coalition – This Overland Park-based organization believes transparent collaboration in the delivery of mental health services and education will improve the well-being of the surrounding community. It strives to provide essential human services for those who need them, regardless of their age, faith, culture, or lifestyle.
Valeo Behavioral Health Care – This Topeka-based non-profit organization has a history of providing substance use and mental health recovery services since 1967. It provides education in addition to services like expressive therapies, mental health intake, crisis services, and recovery services. Its team of 360 professionals includes counselors, social workers, doctors, psychiatrists, and peer support specialists.
Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center – Founded in 1950, this Lawrence-based organization has been advancing the health of Douglas County area residents for decades by providing comprehensive behavioral healthcare services. These include programs focusing on adults, children, families, community support, and medical services.