Nebraska Counseling Licensure Requirements

Counseling Requirements for PLMHP, LMHP, LIMHP Licensure in Nebraska

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health and Consumer Services (OBHCS) manages the licensing process for counselors, referred to as mental health practitioners. As you proceed through the process of becoming licensed you’ll work specifically with the Licensure Unit.

The Licensure Unit issues three types of credentials for mental health practitioners:

  • Provisionally Licensed Mental Health Practitioner (PLMHP)
  • Licensed Mental Health Practitioner (LMHP)
  • Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner (LIMHP)

The PLMHP license allows you to offer services as a mental health practitioner under supervision. As a PLMHP you can accrue the hours of supervised experience that are necessary to upgrade your license and qualify for the license of your choice: the LMHP or LIMHP.

With an LMHP license you can independently provide psychotherapy and counseling for individuals, couples, families, and groups. However you must work in consultation with an LIMHP, physician, or psychologist if you’re going to be diagnosing major mental illnesses. If you meet the qualifications to become an LIMHP you can always choose to upgrade your LMHP license.

With an LIMHP license you can independently provide psychotherapy and counseling services, and you can additionally independently diagnose major mental illnesses, and use psychotherapy with clients suspected of having major emotional or mental disorders.

When you apply for an LMHP or LIMHP license you can opt to purchase the title, “Certified Professional Counselor (CPC)” for $50. If you buy the CPC title you can combine this with an LMHP license and call yourself a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). If you combine the CPC title with an LIMHP license you can call yourself a Licensed Independent Professional Counselor (LIPC). Buying a title doesn’t affect your scope of practice as a licensed professional; it only affects what you can call yourself and how you can market yourself publicly.

Steps Towards Licensure

The process of becoming licensed involves these steps:

  • Earn a qualifying graduate degree with a counseling focus that includes a practicum or internship
  • Apply for a PLMHP license
  • Complete the supervised experience requirement for your choice of LMHP or LIMHP licensure
  • Pass your choice of exams that are sponsored by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC): the NCE exam or the NCMHCE exam
  • Apply for either the LMHP or LIMHP license; you can also choose to buy the Certified
  • Professional Counselor (CPC) title to combine with your license

Provisionally Licensed Mental Health Practitioner (PLMHP)

Credential Requirements

    1. Fulfill the education requirement by earning a qualifying graduate degree that includes a practicum or internship. Have your school send your official transcripts to the Licensure Unit by mail or email (dhhs.licensure2117@nebraska.gov). You can also submit these in a sealed envelope with your application for PLMHP licensure.
    2. Submit an application for PLMHP licensure to the Licensure Unit. The application fee is $125. Once your application is approved the Licensure Unit will issue your PLMHP license. This is valid for five years or until you become an LMHP or LIMHP, whichever comes first.
    3. Once you have a PLMHP license:

    4. Locate a supervisor. Your supervisor needs to be an LIMHP, psychologist, or physician. If you plan on becoming an LMHP your supervisor can also be an LMHP. Once you’re granted a PLMHP license you can start accruing hours of supervised experience to qualify for LMHP or LIMHP licensure.
    5. Pass a required exam. After you’ve fulfilled the supervised experience requirement but before you can apply for LMHP or LIMHP licensure you’ll need to pass an exam. Submit an application to take an examination to the Licensure Unit. Once they’ve determined you’re eligible to take an exam they will notify the NBCC that you’re cleared to test. At this point you can register with the NBCC for either one of its following exams; make sure to have your scores sent to the Licensure Unit:
  • National Counselor Examination (NCE)
  • National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE)

Licensed Mental Health Practitioner (LMHP)

Credential Requirements

    1. Fulfill the supervised experience requirement by earning 3,000 hours of post-master’s experience in mental health practice. This must include 1,500 hours of face-to-face client contact hours. You also need at least one hour of face-to-face meeting with your supervisor each week. You must fulfill this requirement during the five years immediately preceding your application for licensure. Once you’ve completed this your supervisor will fill out an Affidavit of Supervised Experience that you need to include with your application for LMHP licensure.
    2. Fulfill the exam requirement by passing the NCE or NCMHCE.
    3. Submit an application for LMHP licensure to the Licensure Unit. The application fee is $155. Once it approves your application it will issue your LMHP license.
    4. Optional – You can choose to fulfill the LIMHP’s supervised experience requirement as an LMHP and apply for an LIMHP license for a $50 fee.

Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner (LIMHP)

Credential Requirements

  • Fulfill the supervised experience requirement by earning 3,000 hours of post-master’s experience in mental health practice. 1,500 of these hours must involve experience in diagnosing clients with major mental illnesses. You need to fulfill this requirement over a minimum of two years and in not more than five years. Once you’ve completed this your supervisor will fill out an Affidavit of Supervised Experience that you need to include with your application for LIMHP licensure.
  • Fulfill the exam requirement by passing the NCE or NCMHCE if you haven’t already.
  • Submit an application for LIMHP licensure to the Licensure Unit. The application fee is $155. Once it approves your application it will issue your LIMHP license.
  • Renewing the LMHP and LIMHP Licenses

    The LMHP and LIMHP licenses expire biennially on September 1st of even-numbered years. The Licensure Unit will send you a renewal notice at least 30 days before your license is set to expire. To be eligible for renewal you must complete 32 hours of continuing education each renewal period, two of which must be in ethics. The renewal fee is $155.

    Becoming a Certified Professional Counselor (CPC)

    When you apply for licensure as an LMHP or LIMHP you can select an option on your application to pay an extra $50 and buy the title “Certified Professional Counselor (CPC).” If you’re an LMHP and you buy the CPC title you can call yourself a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). If you’re an LIMHP and you buy a CPC title you can call yourself a Licensed Independent Professional Counselor (LIPC). LPC and LIPC are marketing titles only and do not affect your scope of practice as an LMHP or LIMHP.

    While getting the CPC title to go with your LMHP or LIMHP license is nearly as straightforward as paying a $50 fee, qualifying for the CPC title can involve meeting specific education and practicum or internship requirements if your counseling degree was not from a CACREP-accredited program. However these can easily be fulfilled simultaneously with the education requirement for LMHP or LIMHP licensure, and the details on this are explained below in the Education and Degrees section.

    How Long Does it Take to Become a Counselor in Nebraska?

    You can expect to invest around eight years into becoming licensed as an LMHP or LIMHP. Six of these years will be in education: four years to earn a bachelor’s degree and two years to earn a master’s degree. This will qualify you to become a PLMHP which enables you to complete the supervised experience requirement for either the LMHP or LIMHP over two additional years.

    Reciprocity

    You can apply for the LMHP or LIMHP licenses via reciprocity if you hold an equivalent license in another state. To qualify you need to have either one year of active and continuous practice as an LIMHP plus one year of such practice as a graduate trainee or resident, or you need to have been actively practicing as an out-of-state LIMHP-equivalent for the past five years and pass a Nebraska jurisprudence exam.

    To apply for licensure via reciprocity fill out this application. You’ll need to include information about your education, exam scores, and supervised counseling experience.

    Practicums and Internships

    The degree program you use to fulfill the education requirement must include a counseling practicum or internship. There is a section on the PLMHP, LMHP, and LIMHP applications where you and your practicum or internship supervisor must verify completion of this. The practicum or internship requirements vary depending on which credential you’re applying for:

    PLMHP and LMHP licenses – Your practicum or internship must include at least 300 hours of supervised direct client contact hours, 150 of which are in a face-to-face work setting.

    LIMHP license – Your practicum or internship must be at least 700 hours and include at least 280 hours of direct client services.

    Certified Professional Counselor (CPC) title – Your practicum or internship must be at least one semester in duration and count for three semester credits.

    Required Exams

    To qualify for either the LMHP or LIMHP license you’ll need to pass your choice of either one of the following exams sponsored by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC); passing one of these exams will qualify you for both licenses:

    • National Counselor Examination (NCE)
    • National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE)

    Both exams are taken on a computer at a local testing center, and you’ll have at least three hours to complete either one. The NCE covers the core content of your degree program and is 200 multiple-choice questions. The NCMHCE provides you with 10 different clinical simulations and asks you questions about these. You can find out more information on the exams through the NCE and NCMHCE handbooks.

    Once the Nebraska Licensure Unit has notified the NBCC that you’re approved to test you can register for either the NCE or NCMHCE through the NBCC’s partner organization, the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE). The CCE manages the online registration ProCounselor portal.

    Required Education and Degrees

    To fulfill the education requirement for licensure you need a graduate degree that is primarily therapeutic mental health in content. It must include a qualifying practicum or internship.

    The curriculum of your program must include coverage of specific subjects. It automatically includes coverage of these if it is accredited by the Council on the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). To qualify for the LIMHP license the CACREP-accredited program must be at least 60 semester credits.

    Right now in Nebraska there four schools offering five CACREP-accredited graduate programs. These include:

    • Three Master of Science (MS) programs, one of which is offered online
    • Two Master of Arts (MA) programs
    • Two Master of Education (MS Ed./E.) programs, one of which is offered online

    If your program is not CACREP-accredited then it must be accredited by an organization recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). You’ll need to fill out the curriculum section of your PLMHP, LMHP, or LIMHP application and meet the specific curriculum requirements detailed below for each credential level:

    PLMHP and LMHP licenses with non-CACREP-accredited degrees:

    Your curriculum needs to include six semester credits covering the theories and techniques of human behavior intervention, and three credits in each of the following:

    • Professional ethics and orientation
    • Assessment techniques required for mental health practice
    • Human growth and development
    • Research and evaluation

    You can also fulfill the education requirement if you have a master’s degree in Psychology and you complete a doctoral degree in Psychology from a program that’s accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).

    LIMPH license with a non-CACREP-accredited degree:

    Your program needs to total at least 60 semester credits, including practicums and/or internships. If it was less than 60 credits you can make these up with graduate courses that have a mental health focus. Your program must include courses covering each of the following subjects:

    • Professional counseling orientation and professional practice
    • Social and cultural diversity
    • Human growth and development
    • Career development
    • Counseling and helping relationships
    • Group counseling and group work
    • Assessment and testing
    • Research and program evaluation

    If you have a significant lack of qualifying education but you have a lot of experience then you can also qualify for licensure by documenting 7,000 hours of LIMPH supervised experience completed over at least 10 years, including 3,500 hours that involve experience in diagnosing clients with major mental illnesses.

    CPC title with a non-CACREP-accredited degree:

    Your program must include a course that’s at least three credits in counseling theory, plus a minimum-three-credit course in five of the following subjects:

    • Human growth and development
    • Social and cultural foundations
    • Helping relationship
    • Group dynamics, processes, and counseling
    • Lifestyle and career development
    • Appraisal of individuals
    • Research and evaluation
    • Professional orientation

    Salary Information

    The US Department of Labor reported the following average annual salaries for a range of counseling careers, specifically for Nebraska:

    • Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors – $59,960
    • Marriage and Family Therapists – $37,180
    • Rehabilitation Counselors – $41,290
    • Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor – $51,820
    • Occupational Therapists – $77,450
    • Therapists, all other – $57,020

    Types of Counseling Careers

    From the counseling careers detailed above, the US Department of Labor reports a total of 5,220 professionals employed throughout Nebraska. Of those:

    • 34% are Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
    • 31% are Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors
    • 18% are Occupational Therapists
    • 9% are Rehabilitation Counselors
    • 6% are Marriage and Family Therapists
    • 2% are Therapists, all others

    Resources

    Nebraska Counseling Association (NCA) – Enhancing human development is central to the mission of the NCA. It strives to do this for people throughout their lifespan while also promoting the counseling profession. Divided into six districts, members enjoy discounts on trainings as well as opportunities for leadership and advocacy.

    Mental Health Association of Nebraska (MHA-NE) – Founded in 2001, this organization is proud to be 100% peer-operated, which means it operates on principles like shared respect, responsibility, and mutual agreement. It provides a range of resources for substance abuse, addiction, and mental health professionals.

    Association of Private Practice Therapists (APPT) – Providing an important forum for information related to the development of advocacy plans and practice management, this organization is comprised of a multi-disciplinary group of Nebraska mental health professionals. It’s a great resource for networking and it also offers opportunities for continuing education.

    Nebraska School Counselor Association (NSCA) – Representing school counselors throughout the state, the mission of the NCSA is to promote ethical practices and professionalism. It holds annual events like conferences, an awards ceremony, and scholarship announcements.

    Career Opportunities

    Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) – Not only does this state agency oversee the licensing of professional counselors; it also provides a range of important resources for populations who are often served by professional counselors. It’s segmented into five divisions: behavioral health, child and family services, developmental disabilities, public health, and Medicaid and long-term care.

    Woodhaven Counseling Associates – This Omaha-based organization has been serving its clients since 1983. Today it has established a team of professionals that includes LMHPs, LIMPHs, clinical psychologists, marriage and family therapists, mental health nurse practitioners, and more.

    Omni Inventive Care – This organization strives to provide unique approaches to addressing serious behavioral and emotional disturbances, recognizing that these can be layered and complex. Hosting clients from offices in Beatrice, Lincoln, and Omaha, population focuses include children, adolescents, family members, and adults.

    Sage Counseling – This organization’s compassionate counseling team includes PLMHPs, an LMHP, an LIMPH, and a family nurse practitioner. Based in Omaha, services offered include an intensive outpatient program, substance abuse counseling, couples counseling, medication management, and chemical dependency evaluations.

    Affinity Community Counseling – Serving clients from offices in Kearney, Omaha, and Lincoln, this organization focuses on providing clinical counseling services to individuals, families, and couples. Areas of focus include parenting skills, relationship skills, depression, anxiety, grief, and school or work-related issues.