The Mississippi State Board of Examiners for Licensed Professional Counselors, henceforth the “State Board,” issues the credential you need to engage in counseling as an independent professional practitioner throughout the state: the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).
Before you can become fully licensed as an LPC you need to complete a period of supervised counseling experience, during which time you’ll hold a Provisional Licensed Professional Counselor (P-LPC) credential. As a P-LPC you can only work under supervision; you cannot work independently.
As a fully-licensed LPC you can choose to gain additional qualifications and become a State Board-approved supervisor, reflected in the Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor (LPC-S) credential.
Steps Towards Counseling Licensure in Mississippi
Becoming an LPC is a process that involves completing these basic steps:
- Earning a graduate degree from a qualifying counseling program
- Passing the National Board for Certified Counselors’ (NBCC) NCE exam
- Becoming a P-LPC
- Gaining two years of supervised counseling experience
- Passing the NBCC’s NCMHCE exam
- Becoming an LPC
Provisional Licensed Professional Counselor (P-LPC)
- Fulfill the education requirement with a qualifying graduate degree. Have your school send your official transcripts to the State Board once you’re ready to apply for licensure.
- Register with the NBCC for its National Counselor Examination (NCE) and pass this. You don’t need prior authorization from the State Board to register for the NCE. Have your scores sent to the State Board once you’re ready to apply for licensure.
- Locate a supervisor (LPC-S) who will supervise you while you’re a P-LPC as you gain experience to become fully licensed as an LPC. You can find a list of State Board-approved LPC-Ss here. Fill out a Declaration of Practice with your supervisor.
- Submit an application for P-LPC licensure online with the State Board. The application fee is $50. There are a few things you must take care of once you’ve created an online account with the State Board:
- Upload your Declaration of Practice
- Fill out a Supervision Contract and a Supervisor Agreement with your supervisor
- Request a fingerprint card and complete a fingerprint background check through the Mississippi Criminal Information Center (MCIC); the fee for this is $50
Renewing the P-LPC license:
Your P-LPC license is only renewable for a maximum of four years. Any time beyond this must be approved by the State Board by a special extension. You can renew your P-LPC online, and the renewal fee is $50. Your license must be renewed every year by June 30th, and to be eligible for renewal you must complete six hours of continuing education, including two hours in ethics. Each time you renew your P-LPC license you also need to submit a status update and an updated Declaration of Practice.
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
- Fulfill the supervised experience requirement. This is 3,000 post-master’s-degree hours of counseling experience in a clinical setting completed as a P-LPC. This must be completed over a span of at least 18 months. 1,200 hours must be direct services and psychotherapy to clients, and you can obtain a maximum of 25 hours in this category per week. 100 hours must involve individual face-to-face supervision, 50 of which can be obtained during group supervision. However one group-supervision hour is equivalent to half-an-hour of individual supervision. As you fulfill this requirement you’ll report your progress online on your account with the State Board.
- Pass the NBCC’s National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). Once you’ve fulfilled the supervised experience requirement you can log in to your online account with the State Board and request clearance to take the NCMHCE exam. This is done by selecting the option to apply for LPC Candidacy. The State Board must pre-approve you to register with the NBCC for its exam. Once the State Board has determined you’ve fulfilled the supervised experience requirement it will notify the NBCC that you’re cleared to test, at which point you can register with the NBCC. Once you’ve passed the NCMHCE exam have your results sent to the State Board.
- Apply for LPC licensure online with the State Board. The application fee is $100. Once your application is approved the State Board will issue your LPC license.
Renewing the LPC license:
Your LPC license expires biennially on June 30th. The renewal fee is $220, and you can renew through your online account with the State Board. To be eligible for renewal you must complete 24 hours of continuing education, six of which must be in the topic of counseling ethics or legal issues. Every six years you’ll need to complete a fingerprint background check as part of your renewal requirements.
Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor (LPC-S)
- Complete five years of mental health counseling practice. Two of these years must be completed after you’ve become fully licensed as an LPC.
- Fulfill one of the following requirements:
Fulfill all of the following:
- Complete a graduate-level course that’s at least three semester credits in counseling supervision
- Complete a workshop on counseling supervision that’s at least 45 hoursEarn an Approved Clinical Supervisor Credential from the NBCC
Log in to your account with the State Board. On the bottom-right corner of your homepage select, “General Registration,” and click on “New LPCS Application” to begin your supervisor application. The application fee is $50. Once your application is approved your name will be added to the list of State Board-approved LPC-Ss.
- Submit a resume or curriculum vitae, and a statement on your supervision philosophy, to the State Board
- Be a member of a professional counseling organization
Renewing the LPC-S license:
Your LPC-S license is timed to expire concurrently with your LPC license, and can be renewed biennially simultaneously with your LPC license. The renewal fee is $50, and to be eligible for renewal you must complete two hours of continuing education in supervision.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Counselor in Mississippi?
You can expect to invest six years into fulfilling the education requirement for any level of licensure: four years to earn a bachelor’s degree plus two years to earn a qualifying master’s degree. Added together with the necessary experience, this translates into:
- Six years to become a P-LPC
- 7.5 years to become an LPC
- 11 years to become an LPC-S
While the Mississippi State Board doesn’t have reciprocity agreements with any other state, if you’re licensed as an LPC in another state it’s possible to qualify for licensure in Mississippi via comity. You can apply for licensure via comity if your out-of-state licensing requirements for LPC licensure were the same as Mississippi’s. To qualify you must have been licensed for at least five years, and your out-of-state LPC license must be in good standing without complaints or disciplinary actions.
You can make an application by comity by creating an online account with the State Board. When you apply you’ll need to include the names of three people who will serve as character and professional references.
If you’re applying by this route you’ll need to take a Mississippi Jurisprudence Exam. You can take this online and it’s impossible to fail. You register for this exam through the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE).
Practicums and Internships
The degree program you use to fulfill the education requirement for licensure must include a supervised internship totaling at least three semester credits. This must take place in a clinical setting. Programs that are CACREP-accredited are understood to automatically include this.
To become licensed as a P-LPC or LPC you must pass one of the following exams that are sponsored by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC):
- National Counselor Examination (NCE) – Required for the P-LPC license
- National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) – Required for the LPC license
You can register for the NCE once you’ve fulfilled the education requirement for licensure. You don’t need pre-approval from the State Board to register for the NCE.
However to register for the NCMHCE you must be a P-LPC, have completed the LPC supervised experience requirement, apply for authorization to test with the State Board, and only then the State Board may clear you to register for the exam with the NBCC.
To register for your exam with the NBCC you’ll go through its affiliated organization, the Center for Credentialing and Education’s (CCE) online ProCounselor portal.
The NCE is 200 multiple-choice questions for which you’ll have three hours and forty-five minutes to complete. It covers the core content you learned in your graduate program. The NCMHCE is three hours and asks you questions based on 10 clinical simulations you’ll be given on a computer. Both exams are computer-based and taken at a local testing center. You can find out more about these in the NCE and NCMHCE handbooks.
Required Education and Degrees
To fulfill the education requirement for licensure at any level you must earn a graduate degree that’s at least 60 semester credits. It must be from a program that’s accredited by the Council on the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), or be from a program that has “Counseling” in its title and meets specific course requirements.
Right now in Mississippi there are five schools offering 16 CACREP-accredited graduate degree programs, including:
- Six master’s-level education programs (M.Ed or MS Ed.)
- Eight Master of Science (MS) programs
- Three doctoral-level programs (Ph.D or Ed.S)
If your program isn’t CACREP-accredited then it must be accredited by a regional body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), and contain courses that are at least three semester credits in each of the following subjects:
- Psychopathology and abnormal psychology
- Marriage and/or family therapy/counseling
- Theories of counseling psychotherapy and personality
- Professional orientation to ethics or counseling
- Evaluation and research
- Appraisal and testing
- Lifestyle and career development
- Group counseling
- Psychotherapy and counseling skills
- Cultural and social foundations
- Human growth and development
Your program must also include a qualifying practicum. CACREP-accredited programs are understood to automatically include this.
The US Department reports the following average annual salaries for a range of counseling professions, specifically for Mississippi:
- Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors – $50,710
- Marriage and Family Therapists – $41,620
- Rehabilitation Counselors – $39,610
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor – $37,170
- Occupational Therapists – $82,480
- Therapists, all other – $62,050
Types of Counseling Careers
From the counseling occupations listed above, the US Department of Labor reports a total of 5,280 professionals working throughout Mississippi. Of these:
- 37% are Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors
- 33% are Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
- 17% are Occupational Therapists
- 9% are Rehabilitation Counselors
- 2% are Marriage and Family Therapists
- 1% are Therapists, all others
Mississippi Counseling Association (MCA) – Comprised of 10 regional chapters and nine divisions and interest sections, the MCA is an all-encompassing organization serving counselors from many different fields since 1950. Examples of some divisions include the Mississippi Association of Counselor Educators and Supervisors (MACES) and the Mississippi Association of Multicultural Counseling and Development (MAMCD).
Mississippi Licensed Professional Counselors Association (MLPCA) – Offering scholarships, annual events like conferences and workshops, and opportunities for continuing education and lobbying, this organization is dedicated to the development, growth, and recognition of professional counseling. It’s also a division of the MCA.
Mississippi Association of Addiction Professionals (MAAP) – Founded in 1983, this organization offers education, training, and even its own certification program for professionals working in the field of chemical dependency, including alcohol and drug counselors, prevention specialists, and criminal justice addictions professionals.
Mental Health Association of South Mississippi – The mission of this organization is simple: to be a champion of mental health and wellness. Founded as a grassroots organization in 1963 by a group of ladies who sold scarves they knitted to raise money for people with mental illnesses, today this organization is in charge of distributing state and federal grants that support mental health.
Mississippi Department of Mental Health – This state-level agency is familiar to professional counselors. It provides resources targeted to people affected by substance abuse, mental health issues, intellectual disabilities, and people in crisis. Included among its services are 14 regional community mental health centers.
Imagine Behavioral Health – This Jackson-based organization is dedicated to helping clients overcome challenges posed by psychiatric illness, substance addiction, and mood and behavior disorders. Its team is a well-rounded group of LPCs, marriage and family therapists, a doctor, a nurse, and a social worker.
Grace Christian Counseling Center – A team comprised of P-LPCs, LPCs, LPC-Ss, and a clinical social worker, this organization sees clients from office locations in Vicksburg, Port Gibson, and Canton. It focuses on providing treatments for issues including eating disorders, depression, agoraphobia, personality disorders, drug and alcohol addictions, marital and relationship conflicts, and childhood trauma.
Gateway Behavioral Health Services – This organization’s Jackson-based team offer clients services like group therapy, family therapy, substance abuse treatment, crisis intervention, and more. Advanced interventions are available through Gateway’s partial hospitalization program, which can serve as an intermediary between complete hospitalization and residential living.
Coastal Family Health Center – This provider offers a range of medical services from 15 locations in the Gulf Coast area including Gulfport and Biloxi. Its behavioral health services include mental health assessments, chronic condition support, and substance abuse counseling that’s both voluntary and court-ordered.