Part of the Public Protection Cabinet, the Kentucky Board for Licensure for Professional Counselors (KBLPC) issues the licenses you need if you want to engage in professional counseling throughout the state. The Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) is the main license. It allows you to engage in professional counseling independently.
However before you can earn the LPCC license you must gain supervised counseling experience as a Licensed Professional Counseling Association (LPCA). Once you’ve accrued enough experience and passed a national exam you can apply for the full LPCC license.
Steps Towards Counseling Licensure in Kentucky
Becoming an LPCA and then an LPCC involves completing the following basic steps:
- Fulfilling the education requirement with a qualifying graduate degree in Counseling that includes a qualifying practicum or internship. This must be accredited by the Council on the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
- Passing a background check conducted by the Kentucky State Police and a criminal background check performed by the FBI. These must not be more than 90 days old and are required for and explained in the online application for each license.
- Completing 4,000 hours of supervised experience as an LPCA.
- Passing a national counseling examination that’s sponsored by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).
- Applying for an LPCC license.
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Licensed Professional Counseling Association (LPCA)
- Fulfill the education requirement with a qualifying graduate degree in Counseling that’s CACREP-accredited. Make sure it includes a qualifying internship or practicum. Have your school send your official transcripts to the KBLPC.
- Find a supervisor. The KBLPC maintains a directory of approved supervisors. As an LPCA you can accrue hours to fulfill the LPCC’s supervised experience requirement. When you apply for your LPCA license you’ll need to include information about your supervisor and a Supervision Agreement so the KBLPC can approve you to start practicing under supervision.
- Apply for LPCA licensure through this online portal. The application fee is $50. Once your application and Supervision Agreement is approved you can start practicing as an LPCA under supervision.
Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC)Application process:
- Fulfill the education requirement. This is the same as it is for LPCA licensure.
- Fulfill the supervised work experience. This is 4,000 hours of post-master’s-degree supervised counseling work experience. It must include at least 1,600 hours of direct counseling with families, couples, individuals, or groups, and at least 100 hours of face-to-face individual clinical supervision. Fulfilling this requirement is completed in-state as an LPCA. Once you’ve fufilled this your supervisor will notify the KBLPC.
- Pass a national counseling exam that’s sponsored by the NBCC. You can register for your selected exam once you’ve fulfilled the education requirement. To register send your academic transcript, an exam fee of $275, and this exam application form to the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE). The NBCC has contracted with the CCE to manage its exams. Passing either one of the following NBCC exams will qualify you for LPCC licensure: 1.) National Counselor Examination (NCE) 2.)National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE)
- Apply for LPCC licensure through this online portal. The application fee is $150. Once you’ve passed your NBCC exam the scores are automatically forwarded to the KBLPC.
Qualifying to be a supervisor – LPCC-S
As an LPCC you can opt to become a supervisor (LPCC-S) for LPCAs. You can apply for this designation through this online portal. To qualify you must:
- Be an LPCC with an active license in good standing for at least two years
- Take a 15-hour continuing education course in supervision or complete a three-hour graduate-level course in supervision
Renewing Your License
The LPCA and LPCC licenses expire each year on October 31st. You can renew your license through this online portal. The renewal fees are $50 for the LPCA and $150 for the LPCC. To be eligible for renewal you must attest to having completed 10 hours of continuing education. This needs to periodically include completing three hours of continuing education in domestic violence, and six hours of continuing education in suicide assessment, treatment, and management.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Counselor in Kentucky?
You can expect to invest at least eight years into becoming fully licensed as an LPCC in Kentucky. It will take you at least six years to fulfill the education requirement for licensure as an LPCA or LPCC. That’s four years to earn a bachelor’s degree and at least another two years to earn a graduate degree in Counseling. From there you can become an LPCA and accrue 4,000 hours –about two additional years–
of supervised counseling experience and qualify for an LPCC license. From there you can opt to gain two years of additional LPCC experience, for a total investment of 10 years, and qualify to become a supervisor; an LPCC-S.
You can apply for licensure as an LPCC via endorsement if the requirements for your out-of-state LPCC license were similar to Kentucky’s. The KBLPC needs to receive your official academic transcripts, the results from background investigations by the Kentucky State Police and FBI, and official verification of your out-of-state LPC license from your state’s Board of Counseling.
The KBLPC also grants LPCA and LPCC licenses via reciprocity for equivalent holders in Tennessee.
When you apply for licensure via endorsement or reciprocity use the online portal.
Practicums and Internships
To fulfill the educational requirement for the LPCA or LPCC license your school must include a practicum or internship that’s at least two semester courses and 600 hours, including at least 240 hours of direct service
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To qualify for the LPCC license you must complete at least 400 hours of an organized practicum or internship.
If you’re lacking a qualifying practicum or internship the KBLPC can approve one to remedy the deficiency.
To become an LPCC you must pass 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)
Both of these exams are taken on a computer and allow at least three hours for completion. The NCE is multiple-choice and the NCMHCE evaluates your responses to 10 clinical simulations. You can learn more about each exam by consulting the NCE and NCMHCE handbooks.
The NCE and NCMHCE are administered by the NBCC’s partner organization, the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE). To register for either, send an exam application form to the CCE.
Required Education and Degrees
To fulfill the education requirement for licensure as an LPCA or an LPCC you must earn a master’s, specialist, or doctoral degree in Counseling or a related field. Your graduate program must be accredited by a regional body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), and accredited by the Council on the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
Right now there are nine schools in Kentucky offering 20 CACREP-accredited graduate programs including:
- Seven Master of Arts (MA) degrees
- Seven master’s-level degrees that include a focus on education
- Six doctoral-level degrees
- One Master of Science (MS) degree
- Six programs that are offered online, including five master’s-level and one doctoral-level
Your degree program must incorporate 60 semester credits in the following, including at least three credits in each subject area:
- The helping relationship, including counseling practice and theory
- Human growth and development
- Career and lifestyle development
- Appraisal, assessment, and testing of individuals
- Group dynamics, counseling, process, and consulting
- Cultural and social foundations, including multicultural issues
- Evaluation and research
- Professional ethics and orientation
- Principles of diagnosis, treatment planning, etiology, and prevention of mental and emotional disorders and dysfunctional behavior
Your education program must also include a qualifying practicum or internship.
Degrees that are not considered to be related to Counseling include:
- Forensic Psychology
- Clinical Psychology
- Biblical Counseling
- Christian Psychology
- Marriage and Family Therapy
- Pastoral Counseling
- Social Work
- Art or Dance Therapy
- Special education
- Criminal Justice
If you’re lacking qualifying courses the KBLPC can approve ones to fill in any holes.
In 2020 the US Department of Labor reported the following average annual salaries for a range of different counseling careers, specifically for Kentucky:
- Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors – $57,520
- Marriage and Family Therapists – $42,810
- Rehabilitation Counselors – $35,150
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor – $41,940
- Counselors, all others – $50,650
- Occupational Therapists – $78,430
- Therapists, all other – $89,640
Types of Counseling Careers
Of the careers listed above, the US Department of Labor reports a total of 9,630 professionals employed throughout Kentucky. Of those professionals:
- 35% are Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors
- 32% are Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
- 13% are Occupational Therapists
- 12% are Rehabilitation Counselors
- 5% are Marriage and Family Therapists
- 4% are Therapists, all others
- 1% are Counselors, all others
Kentucky Counseling Association (KCA) – Providing regular events and an annual conference, the networking opportunities offered by the KCA are just one of the things that stands out about it. It also sponsors internal divisions that are focused on topics of particular importance like LGBT issues, aging, counseling education and supervision, group work, mental health, and more.
Kentucky School Counselor Association (KSCA) – This non-profit organization supports the profession of school counseling by providing resources, opportunities for professional development, and advocacy to those who are involved in this career. It sponsors annual conferences, bestows awards, maintains advocacy relationships with legislators, and even provides scholarships for students.
Kentucky Association of Addiction Professionals – Offering its own certification program through its parent national organization, KAAP also provides resources for education, careers, networking, and professional advocacy.
Kentucky Association for College Admission Counseling (KYACAC) – With roots stretching back decades, the KYACAC hosts professional events, college fairs, and awards ceremonies. It maintains committees focused on issues like inclusion, professional development, and governmental relations.
Kentucky Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities – Under the auspices of the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services, this department plays a pivotal role throughout the state providing the most vulnerable populations with vital services.
Kentucky Counseling Center – Providing services from 10 locations throughout the state, this organization’s services include counseling, case management, and psychiatry. It accepts over a dozen kinds of insurance in addition to providing continuing education opportunities for professionals.
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Central Kentucky Counseling Associates – With a team comprised of LPCAs, LPCCs, clinical social workers, and marriage and family therapists, this organization strives to maximize convenience for its clients. It offers services from locations including the workplace, school, home, and its office. In addition to providing therapy, it also provides educational resources on the subjects of substance abuse and parenting.
Baptist Health – This large healthcare provider system includes its namesake hospital in Louisville, a 519-bed facility that offers an impressive range of healthcare services. Included among these is Baptist Health Louisville Behavioral Health. This department provides comprehensive treatment options for behavioral health issues including depression, substance use, anxiety, and schizophrenia.
SUN Behavioral Health – Offering services to adults, children, and adolescents, this metro-Cincinnati Erlanger-based organization offers a range of mental health services including counseling, in-patient options, telehealth services, and outpatient treatments.