Nevada’s Board of Examiners for Family Therapists and Clinical Professional Counselors, henceforth the “State Board” issues the credential you need if you want to engage in professional clinical counseling independently or as an employee anywhere throughout the state: the Clinical Professional Counselor (CPC).
Before you can become fully licensed as a CPC you’ll need to gain a few years of counseling experience as a Clinical Professional Counselor Intern (CPC-Intern). The CPC-Intern license allows you to engage in clinical professional counseling under supervision for the purpose of becoming fully licensed as a CPC.
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Steps Towards Counseling Licensure in Nevada
You’ll need to complete these basic steps on your way to becoming fully licensed as a CPC:
- Earn a qualifying graduate degree in clinical professional counseling or a related field that includes a segment of supervised practice
- Apply for licensure as a CPC-Intern and start accruing hours of supervised experience
- Pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) which is sponsored by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)
- Apply for a full license as a CPC
Clinical Professional Counselor Intern (CPC-Intern)
- Fulfill the education requirement by earning a qualifying graduate degree in Counseling. Have your school send your transcripts to the State Board.
- Complete a fingerprint background check, including filling out Form DPS-006. The fee for this is $27.
- Locate a primary and secondary supervisor who are approved by the State Board. Have your primary supervisor fill out an Internship Proposal and Primary Supervisor Contract, and have your secondary supervisor fill out a Secondary Supervisor Contract. These detail where you’re going to earn the hours you’ll use to fulfill the CPC’s supervised experience requirement. Submit these with your application for CPC-Intern licensure.
- Submit an application for CPC-Intern licensure to the State Board. You can also apply online. The application fee is $150. The State Board may request a personal interview with you and give you an oral exam about your professional knowledge. Once the State Board approves your application it will issue your CPC-Intern license.
- Fulfill the CPC supervised experience requirement as a CPC-Intern. The Intern license is valid for three years, which should give you enough time to fulfill this requirement for full licensure. If you need more time you can renew the CPC-Intern license once.
Clinical Professional Counselor (CPC)
- Fulfill the supervised experience requirement. This is 3,000 hours of postgraduate supervised professional counseling experience, 1,500 hours of which involve direct contact with clients. It must be completed over at least two years. You need to accrue 300 hours of direct supervision at a rate of at least one hour per week. Your primary and secondary supervisors will each submit reports (primary report | secondary report) on the progress of your supervised experience every six months to the State Board. Once you’ve fulfilled the supervised experience requirement your primary supervisor will submit a Final Report to the State Board.
- Pass the NBCC’s NCMHCE exam. Before you can register with the NBCC for the exam you need to apply for authorization to test from the State Board. You can submit a CPC Testing Request Form to the State Board once you receive your CPC-Intern license, and you must take the exam before your CPC-Intern license expires. You can also submit a request form to the State Board along with your application for CPC licensure. Once the State Board approves your testing request it will notify the NBCC that you’re cleared, at which point you can register for the exam with the NBCC. Have your scores sent to the State Board.
- Submit an application for CPC licensure to the State Board. You can also apply online. Once your application is approved the State Board will issue your CPC license.
Renewing Your CPC License
The CPC license expires biennially every two years on January 1st. The renewal fee is $450. To be eligible for renewal you must earn 40 hours of continuing education during each renewal period, including six hours in ethics and four hours in suicide prevention. You can renew by submitting this form to the State Board.
Becoming an Approved Supervisor
There are two levels of supervisors: a primary supervisor and a secondary supervisor. The requirements to become a secondary supervisor are less stringent than those to become a primary supervisor.
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To qualify to be a secondary supervisor you need at least three years of experience with a CPC license and liability insurance. Once you meet these qualifications you can submit a secondary supervisor application to the State Board.
To qualify to be a primary supervisor you need to earn an Approved Clinical Supervisor certificate from the NBCC, or meet all of the following:
Hold a CPC license for at least three years
Have professional liability insurance
Complete a graduate course in supervision that’s at least 45 hours in length
Submit a signed statement from a mentor documenting that you’ve earned 25 hours of experience in supervision
Once you’ve met the qualification requirements you can submit a primary supervisor application to the State Board.
To renew your supervisor status you’ll need to complete two hours of relevant continuing education every renewal period.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Counselor in Nevada?
You can expect to invest eight years into becoming a fully-licensed CPC. It will take you six years to fulfill the education requirement: four years to earn a bachelor’s degree plus another two years to earn a master’s degree in Counseling. From here you can qualify to become a CPC-Intern and gain two years of supervised counseling work experience to qualify for a full CPC license.
If you hold an out-of-state CPC license (or equivalent) that’s valid and unrestricted whose qualification requirements were equivalent to Nevada’s then you can apply for Nevada CPC licensure via reciprocity. Submit this application to the Nevada State Board, or you can apply online. You’ll need to have your home state’s Board of Counseling fill out a Verification of License Form and send this to the Nevada State Board.
Practicums and Internships
The graduate degree program you use to fulfill the education requirement must include at least three courses in the supervised practice of clinical professional counseling, such as practicums or internships. These must be equivalent to three courses spanning three semesters, or four courses spanning four quarters. They must include clinical experience working with individuals, families, and couples, and provide at least 40 weeks of supervised practice. Have your supervisor fill out this form and submit it with your application for CPC-Intern licensure.
Qualifying degree programs that are CACREP-accredited automatically fulfill this requirement.
You’ll need to pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) from the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) to qualify for a CPC license. Once the State Board has cleared you to test with the NBCC you can register for the NCMHCE through the ProCounselor portal. This is managed by the NBCC’s partner organization, the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE).
The NCMHCE exam itself is taken on a computer at a local testing center over a span of three hours. It evaluates your responses to 10 different clinical simulations you’ll be presented with. You can learn more about the exam through the NCMHCE handbook.
Required Education and Degrees
To fulfill the education requirement for licensure as an CPC-Intern and full CPC you must earn a graduate degree in clinical professional counseling or a related field from a school that’s at least 60 semester credits (72 quarter credits) and accredited by a regional body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
Your graduate program must have two courses in human development including issues of sexuality, and at least one course in each of the following subjects:
- Loss or grief
- Trauma or crisis
- Family systems
- Couples counseling
- Alcohol abuse and controlled substances
- Evaluation and research
- Diagnosis and assessment, including coverage of the DSM
- Ethics and professional studies
- Group dynamics, consulting, and counseling
- Career and lifestyle development
- Individual counseling practice and techniques
- Individual counseling theories
Your graduate program must also include three courses in the supervised practice of clinical professional counseling, such as practicums or internships.
The State Board recognizes any program in mental health or community counseling that’s accredited by the Council on the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) as automatically fulfilling the education requirement for licensure.
Right now in Nevada there is one school offering four CACREP-accredited programs. These include:
- Three Master of Arts (MA) programs
- One Ph.D program
At its discretion the State Board can deem other graduate programs as qualifying, and can also deem years of experience in clinical counseling as being an acceptable substitute for academic coursework.
Nevada offers some of the most lucrative average annual salaries for counselors of all states in the nation. It ranks first for having the highest average salary for Occupational Therapists, and second for Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors, as well as the miscellaneous “all other” category for Therapists.
The US Department of Labor, which details the following average annual salary statistics:
- Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors – $57,900
- Marriage and Family Therapists – $57,020
- Rehabilitation Counselors – $41,690
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor – $63,910
- Counselors, all others – $53,380
- Occupational Therapists – $105,450
- Therapists, all other – $84,180
Types of Counseling Careers
The US Department of Labor reports a total of 4,850 professionals working throughout Nevada in the careers detailed above. Of those:
- 35% are Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors
- 24% are Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
- 17% are Occupational Therapists
- 12% are Rehabilitation Counselors
- 8% are Marriage and Family Therapists
- 2% are Counselors, all others
- 2% are Therapists, all others
Nevada Counseling Association (NCA) – With a claim to being the state’s largest organization of multi-disciplinary mental health professionals, the ultimate goal of this organization is no less lofty: to make Nevada the best state in the nation to be a mental health professional. It offers resources like opportunities for continuing education and networking events like an annual conference.
Nevada School Counselor Association (NvSCA) – Offering opportunities for leadership, networking, and professional development, this organization also hosts annual events and an awards ceremony. Members-only perks include an extensive online repository of information and a membership database.
State of Nevada Association for Addiction Professionals (SNAAP) – This organization hosts annual events and serves as a regional hub for professionals in this field. Membership benefits include free continuing education, discounted workshops and events, reduced rates on liability insurance, and automatic membership in this state chapter’s national parent organization.
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National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) Nevada – Based in Reno and comprised of three affiliates representing Northern, Western, and Southern Nevada, this organization offers resources like support groups, advocacy programs, crisis help, and educational resources. Among professionals NAMI Nevada is known for providing helpful resources that encourage community advocacy.
Nevada Hospital Association (NHA) – This not-for-profit trade association represents 100% of all acute care hospitals in Nevada. It also represents specialty hospitals like those devoted to psychiatric issues and rehabilitation. Maintaining a strong relationship with legislators, effectively addressing a shortage of mental health service providers is at this top of the NHA’s goals.
Nevada Department of Health and Human Services – Nevada’s most important state agency for addressing many issues that overlap with those addressed by CPCs, this department is comprised of divisions including Child and Family Services, Welfare and Supportive Services, Health Care Financing and Policy, Aging and Disability Services, and Public and Behavioral Health.
Bridge Counseling Associates – This non-profit organization has been helping individuals, families, and court-ordered clients since its founding in 1971. Most of its 30-plus clinical staff members hold dual credentials specializing in mental health and substance abuse. Counseling assistance is provided from two Las Vegas locations.
Reno Behavioral Healthcare Hospital – The mission of this organization is to provide clients with a holistic environment that fosters recovery for them and their families. It strives to serve as an outstanding community resource through the highest quality of care. It hosts a center for eating disorders, an adolescent residential treatment program, a transitions program, youth programs, and more.
Desert Parkway Behavioral Healthcare Hospital – Offering inpatient and outpatient services, this organization focuses on treating mental and behavioral issues for adults, children, and adolescents, in addition to offering treatment for chemical dependency issues. Clients are entitled to the core values of respect, dignity, and compassion.
North Las Vegas Behavioral Health – Offering one-on-one and group therapy, this organization helps its clients address issues like bipolar disorder, depression, stress triggers, and anxiety. Biofeedback is an area of particular specialization, empowering clients with the knowledge of how to relax.