Part of the state’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, Maine’s Board of Counseling Professionals Licensure (BCPL) is responsible for issuing the licenses that allow you to engage in professional counseling.
The BCPL issues two categories of licenses: Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC). The education, examination, and supervised experience requirements are different for each category of licensure. Both licenses allow you to engage in independent private practice. As an LPC you can engage in professional counseling however you cannot engage in clinical counseling. As an LCPC you can engage in both professional counseling and clinical counseling, which includes the ability to diagnose and treat mental illnesses.
Before you can become fully licensed as an LPC or LCPC you’ll need to apply for a Conditional (C) license and gain supervised experience, during which time you’ll be an LPC-C or LCPC-C. You must work under supervision on a Conditional license, and your supervision arrangement must be pre-approved by the BCPL before it will issue your LPC-C or LCPC-C.
Steps Towards Counseling Licensure in Maine
To become a full LPC or LCPC you’ll need to go through the following process:
- Earn a qualifying graduate degree in Counseling that includes a practicum and internship
- Apply for permission from the BCPL to take the appropriate exam that’s sponsored by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), then register with the NBCC and pass your exam
- Apply for an LPC-C or LCPC-C license
- Gain at least two years of supervised experience on your Conditional license
- Apply for a full LPC or LCPC license
You can apply for any license online by creating an account with the BCPL, or you can complete the step-by-state application process for each license detailed below and mail or hand-deliver your application to the BCPL.
Conditional Licenses – Licensed Professional Counselor-Conditional (LPC-C) and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor-Conditional (LCPC-C)
- Fulfill the education requirement with a qualifying graduate degree in Counseling that includes an internship and practicum. Have your school send your official transcripts to the BCPL.
- Submit an application for permission to take the appropriate NBCC exam to the BCPL. You’ll need to include three letters of recommendation and a $25 application fee. The BCPL must approve your exam request, and then notify the NBCC that you’re cleared to register for its exam.
Once the BCPL clears you to test you can register with the NBCC for your appropriate exam: the NCE exam is for LPC-Cs and the NCMHCE is for LCPC-Cs. Once you’ve passed have your results sent to the BCPL. At this point you’re nearly ready to apply for Conditional licensure. However you must take care of two more additional things.
Create a Disclosure Statement. This is a statement you’ll tell clients about what they can expect from you and what your professional qualifications are. You can find an example of a disclosure statement here.
Locate a supervisor. The purpose of a Conditional license is to fulfill the supervised counseling experience requirement for a full license. Your supervisor needs to hold a full license (LPC or LCPC as appropriate) or be an approved licensed mental health provider. Your supervisor needs to have at least five years of licensed experience, be nationally certified as a supervisor, or have completed 30 hours of training in supervision. Once you’ve found a supervisor you can fill out a Proposed Supervision Plan.
Submit an application for licensure to the BCPL. The licensure fee is $200. You’ll also need to pass a criminal history check and the fee for this is $21. Include your Proposed Supervision Plan and Disclosure Statement with your application. Once the BCPL approves your application it will issue your Conditional license. It will take you at least two years on your Conditional license to fulfill the supervision requirement for full licensure.
- LCP-C exam application
- LCPC-C exam application
LPC-C licensure application
LCPC-C licensure application
Renewing the LPC-C or LCPC-C Conditional licenses:
Your Conditional license is valid for two years and can be renewed online for $200. You can renew it up to two times, which should give you enough time to complete the supervised experience requirement to become fully licensed. You must demonstrate proof of hardship to the BCPL for any additional renewals.
As conditional licensee you’ll need to complete 55 hours of continuing education to be eligible for full licensure.
Full Licenses – Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC)
- Fulfill the supervised experience requirement. This is completed in-state on a Conditional license. Once you’ve fulfilled this requirement your supervisor will complete a Supervisor’s Affidavit. The supervised experience requirement is as follows for each licensure category:
Submit an application for licensure to the BCPL. Once the BCPL approves your application it will issue your full license. Include the following with your application:
- For aspiring LPCs – 2,000 hours of supervised counseling experience over a span of at least two years. This needs to include 1,000 hours of direct counseling experience with individuals, couples, families, or groups, and 67 hours of supervision with your supervisor. Of those 67 hours, 34 need to consist of individual supervision.
- For aspiring LCPCs – 3,000 hours of supervised clinical counseling experience over a span of at least two years. It needs to include 1,500 hours of direct clinical contact with individuals and groups, and 100 hours of supervision with your supervisor. Of those 100 hours, 50 need to consist of individual supervision.
- LPC licensure application or LCPC licensure application
- $200 licensure fee and a $21 criminal history check fee
- Supervisor’s Affidavit
- Proof of completing 55 hours of continuing education on your Conditional license
- Revised Disclosure Statement
Renewing Your Full LPC or LCPC Licenses
LPC and LCPC licenses expire every two years on December 31st. You can renew your license online. The renewal fee is $250. To be eligible for renewal you must complete 55 hours of continuing education. On your first renewal 12 of these continuing education hours must be on the subject of family or intimate partner violence.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Counselor in Maine?
You can expect to invest around eight years into becoming fully licensed as an LPC or LCPC. Fulfilling the education requirement will take you at least six years: four years to earn a bachelor’s degree and two years to earn a master’s degree in Counseling. At this point after passing an exam you can apply for a Conditional license, and from there gain a minimum of two years of supervised experience to qualify for full LPC or LCPC licensure.
There are two main pathways to becoming licensed in Maine if you hold a counseling license in another state. One way is licensure via holding a license that is substantially equivalent to an LPC or LCPC. To qualify by this pathway you must have held an LPC or LCPC-equivalent license in another state for at least five years, and it must be in good standing.
The other pathway is licensure via substantially similar qualifications. If you’ve been licensed as an LPC or LCPC-equivalent in another state for less than five years you can submit information to the Maine BCPL that establishes the qualifications for your out-of-state licensure were substantially similar to Maine’s.
You can apply for licensure via either route by creating an online account with the Maine BCPL or by filling out this application. Some of the materials the BCPL will need can include:
- Official verification of your out-of-state license from your state’s Board of Counseling
- Your official academic transcripts from your graduate school
- Your exam scores from the NBCC
Practicums and Internships
If the degree program you use to fulfill the education requirement for Conditional or full licensure as an LPC or LCPC is not CACREP-accredited then it must include a qualifying practicum and internship. CACREP-accredited programs are understood to automatically include these.
The practicum must be a course that provides practical counseling experience with the goal of developing group and individual counseling skills. To qualify for LCPC licensure the course must include clinical instruction.
The internship must be:
- A supervised counseling experience that’s at least 600 hours to fulfill the LCP licensure requirements
- A supervised clinical counseling experience that lasts one full academic year and is at least 900 hours, including 360 hours of direct client contact to fulfill the LCPC licensure requirements
In place of fulfilling both the practicum and internship requirements you can make the following substitutions:
- For the LPC license – 700 hours of supervised counseling experience that includes 280 hours of direct client contact
- For the LCPC license – 1,000 hours of supervised clinical counseling experience that includes 400 hours of direct clinical contact
Have your school send a completed Verification of Internship Form to the BCPL as part of your application to take an NBCC exam.
To earn a Conditional license and subsequent full licensure as an LPC or LCPC you must pass an exam that’s sponsored by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC):
- National Counselor Examination (NCE) – Required for prospective LPC-Cs
- National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) – Required for prospective LCPC-Cs
You need to apply for and obtain pre-authorization from the Maine BCPL before you can register with the NBCC for your exam. When you do register with the NBCC, you’ll actually go through their partner organization, the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE), and register through the CCE’s online ProCounselor portal.
The NCE and NCMHCE exams are both taken on a computer at a local testing center. You’ll have at least three hours to complete either exam. The NCE exam is 200 multiple-choice questions, and the NCMHCE exam asks you questions based on 10 different clinical simulations. You can find more information about these exams through the NCE and NCMHCE handbooks.
Required Education and Degrees
To fulfill the education requirement for Conditional or full LPC or LCPC licensure you must earn a graduate degree in Counseling or an allied mental health field from a school that’s accredited by a regional body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). It must be at least 48 semester credits to fulfill the LPC education requirement, and at least 60 semester credits to fulfill the LCPC education requirement. It must also meet one of the following requirements:
- Be accredited by the Council on the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
- Not be CACREP-accredited and meet specific curriculum requirements
Right now there are three schools in Maine offering nine graduate programs that are CACREP-accredited. These include:
- Four Master of Arts (MA) programs
- Three Master of Science (MS) programs
- One Master of Education (M.Ed.) program
- One PhD program
CACREP-accredited programs are understood to automatically include a qualifying practicum and internship.
If your degree program is not CACREP-accredited then it must include a qualifying practicum and internship, and courses in the following subjects that are at least three credits each:
- Professional orientation
- Evaluation and research
- Lifestyle and career development (LPC-C or LPC only)
- Diagnosis and treatment (LCPC-C or LCPC only)
- Helping relationships
- Cultural and social foundations
- Human growth and development
To fulfill the education requirement for a Conditional or full LCPC license your degree program must also include three credits in three of the following subjects:
- Career and lifestyle development
- Human sexuality for counselors
- Crisis intervention
- Marriage and family therapy*
- Addictive disorders*
- Treatment modalities*
* up to six credits allowed
To verify your education you’ll need to fill out this form for LPC-C licensure, or this form for LCPC-C licensure, and include it with your application to take an NBCC examination.
If you’re lacking coursework in any areas you can make up for this by taking additional qualifying courses as long as your counseling degree was at least 36 semester credits.
The BCPL also considers a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology or Counseling Psychology as fulfilling the education requirement if it’s from a program that’s accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) or Canadian Psychological Association (CPA).
Note that in 2017 the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) merged with CACREP.
A relatively high salary is one of the perks Maine offers for its counselors. In 2020 the US Department of Labor reported that Marriage and Family Therapists in Maine earned the third-highest average annual salary in the nation compared with all other states. It also reported the following average annual salaries for a range of counseling professions in Maine:
- Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors – $53,570
- Marriage and Family Therapists – $71,730
- Rehabilitation Counselors – $49,270
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor – $54,800
- Counselors, all others – $47,450
- Occupational Therapists – $74,400
Types of Counseling Careers
The US Department of Labor reports a total of 3,040 professionals employed in the following counseling careers in Maine. Of those:
- 40% are Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors
- 31% are Occupational Therapists
- 20% are Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
- 8% are Rehabilitation Counselors
- 1% are Counselors, all others
Maine Counseling Association (MeCA) – Offering membership options at the individual, student, and emeritus levels, the MeCA is a great resource for professionals in this field. It offers a trove of relevant information and networking opportunities through events like an annual conference.
Maine School Counselor Association (MESCA) – This organization represents school counselors from pre-K up through the 12th grade. Meetings are held every two months, and MESCA does things like legislative advocacy, sponsoring scholarships, and hosting an annual conference.
Alliance for Addiction and Mental Health Services, Maine – This is a non-profit statewide association for community behavioral health organizations whose main goal is to help residents experiencing mental health and substance abuse challenges. It strives to achieve its goal through leadership, advocacy, professional development, and collaboration.
National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) Maine – Sponsoring trainings, legislative involvement activities, educational programming, and support for individuals and families affected by mental health challenges, NAMI Maine is an important resource for the 25% of Maine residents who are impacted by mental illness.
Maine Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) – Part of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, OBH plays an important role in getting residents throughout Maine important help they need for issues including substance use disorder, mental health challenges, and housing resources.
Maine Behavioral Healthcare – Offering more than 30 clinical programs, and with almost 30 offices throughout the state, this organization is devoted to ensuring all residents get the behavioral health services they need, and that these are integrated with other necessary health services. It’s proud to be an important component of MaineHealth.
AMHC – Serving Aroostook, Washington, and Hancock counties, this non-profit social services and community health organization seeks to provide integrated assistance to help clients improve their lives. Founded in 1964, today AMHC is proud to offer a comprehensive variety of important behavioral health services.
Tri-County Mental Health Services – Focusing on trauma-informed integrated services, this organization specializes in youth and child issues, family services, adult services, and veteran services. It also hosts its own social learning center complete with three sensory integration rooms. It has offices in Rumford, Oxford, Bridgton, Farmington, and Lewiston.
Community Health and Counseling Services – This non-profit healthcare organization serves communities throughout the state. It focuses on home healthcare, primary care, hospice, and mental health. For its mental health treatments it offers outpatient services, residential services, and home-based care. Population focuses include adults, children, adolescents, foster parents, and those experiencing a crisis.