Part of the state’s Office of Professional Licensure and Certification (OPLC), the New Hampshire Board of Mental Health Practice –henceforth the “State Board”– issues the license you need if you want to independently engage in professional counseling anywhere in the state: the Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LCMHC).
Before you can become a fully-licensed LCMHC you’ll need to apply for candidate status and complete at least two years of supervised counseling experience as an LCMHC candidate.
Steps Towards Counseling Licensure in New Hampshire
To earn a full LCMHC license you’ll need to complete these steps:
- Earn a qualifying graduate degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
- Apply for LCMHC candidate status and accrue two years of supervised counseling experience
- Pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) that’s sponsored by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)
- Apply to become fully licensed as an LCMHC
Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LCMHC)
- Fulfill the education requirement by earning a qualifying graduate degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Have your school send you your official transcripts in an envelope that’s signed across the seal, and include this with your LCMHC candidate application.
- Find a supervisor. Before you can become fully licensed you need to fulfill the LCMHC supervised experience requirement. Your supervisor needs to be approved by the State Board and be an LCMHC, Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW), or other qualifying mental health professional. You can find a list of State Board-approved supervisors here.
- Submit an application for LCMHC candidate status to the State Board along with a $25 fee. This contains a supervision agreement. Have your supervisor fill out their portion of this application.
- Once you’ve earned candidate status and your supervision agreement has been approved by the State Board you can begin fulfilling the LCMHC supervised experience requirement. This is 3,000 hours of post-master’s supervised clinical experience completed over at least two years. This must include at least one hour per week of individual face-to-face supervision, totaling at least 100 hours. Once you’ve fulfilled the supervised experience requirement your supervisor needs to complete a Confirmation of Clinical Experience form, which they will give to you in an envelope that’s signed across the seal, and which you must include with your LCMHC application. You can find this form in the LCMHC application packet.
- Obtain three professional references on forms that are included in your LCMHC application packet. One of your references must be from your supervisor. Have these returned to you in envelopes signed across the seal, and include these with your LCMHC application.
- Pass the NBCC’s NCMHCE exam. You register for this through the NBCC and you don’t need pre-authorization from the State Board. Arrange to have your scores sent to the State Board.
- Submit an application packet for LCMHC licensure to the State Board along with a $150 application fee. Once it’s approved and you’ve paid a $135 licensure fee the State Board will issue your LCMHC license.
Renewing Your LCMHC License
The LCMHC license expires every two years. You can renew it by submitting a renewal application and $270 renewal fee to the State Board. To be eligible for renewal you must attest to completing 40 hours of continuing education and 40 hours of collaboration during each renewal period. Continuing education can be activities like participating in seminars, workshops, graduate-level coursework, and home study courses. Collaboration can be activities like small group meetings, attendance of mental health meetings, clinical research collaboration, and attendance of conferences.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Counselor in New Hampshire?
You can expect to invest around eight years into becoming a full LCMHC. It will take you six years to fulfill the education requirements: four years to earn a bachelor’s degree and two years to earn a master’s degree. At this point you can gain candidate status and accrue the two years of supervised experience you need to qualify for a full LCMHC license.
You can become licensed as an LCMHC in New Hampshire if you’re an LCMHC or equivalent in another state and your out-of-state licensure requirements were the same as New Hampshire’s. Have your out-of-state Board of Counseling fill out a Licensure Verification Form and return this to you in an envelope that’s signed across the seal. To apply you can follow the licensure process outlined above.
Practicums and Internships
The degree program you use to fulfill the education requirement for candidate status or full licensure as an LCMHC must include a supervised practicum or internship in mental health counseling that’s at least 700 hours. CACREP-accredited programs are understood to automatically include this.
To qualify for the LCMHC license you’ll need to pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE), sponsored by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). You don’t need prior authorization from the New Hampshire State Board to register for the exam. To register you’ll create an account through the online ProCounselor portal which is maintained by the NBCC’s partner organization, the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE).
You’ll have three hours to take the NCMHCE exam, which evaluates your responses to 10 different clinical scenarios it will provide to you. You can find more details about the exam in the NCMHCE handbook. This is a computer-based test taken at a local testing center.
Required Education and Degrees
To fulfill the education requirement for becoming an LCMHC candidate or a fully-licensed LCMHC you need a graduate degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling that’s at least 60 semester credits. Your degree program must be accredited by the Council on the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), or meet other specific requirements.
Right now in New Hampshire there are three schools offering CACREP-accredited graduate programs in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Two of these programs are Master of Arts (MA) programs, and one is a Master of Science (MS) program. Both MA programs offer options for online completion.
Programs that are not CACREP-accredited must be accredited by a regional body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). They must include at least 33 semester credits covering the following topics:
- Addictive behaviors
- Program evaluation and research
- Assessment and testing
- Lifestyle and career development
- Ethics of mental health counseling and professional orientation
- Group work
- Cultural and social foundations
- Clinical counseling techniques
- Clinical counseling theories
- Abnormal psychopathology/psychology
- Human growth and development
Your program must also include a qualifying practicum or internship. CACREP-accredited programs are understood to automatically fulfill this requirement.
In 2020 the US Department of Labor reported the following average annual salaries for a range of counseling careers, specifically for New Hampshire:
- Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors – $55,660
- Marriage and Family Therapists – $46,450
- Rehabilitation Counselors – $48,870
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor – $44,870
- Occupational Therapists – $81,140
Types of Counseling Careers
From the careers listed above, the US Department of Labor reports a total of 5,200 professionals employed throughout New Hampshire. Of these:
- 40% are Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors
- 34% are Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
- 18% are Occupational Therapists
- 6% are Rehabilitation Counselors
- 1% are Marriage and Family Therapists
New Hampshire Mental Health Counselors Association (NHMHCA) – This organization strives to support this profession from all angles. Its mission is to promote the professionalism of and collaboration among LCMHCs, while simultaneously advocating for clients and promoting LCMHCs as a profession among the public. It offers resources about upcoming events, links to LCMHCs offering counseling services, and more.
New Hampshire School Counselor Association (NHSCA) – This organization supports the school counselor profession through actions like awards, scholarships, an annual conference, and professional development events. Membership benefits include free statewide meetings, a quarterly newsletter, and opportunities for legislative advocacy.
New Hampshire Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors Association (NHADACA) – Offering professional training events, a host of scholarships, a database of vacant job opportunities, and an annual awards ceremony that recognizes outstanding professionals in this field, this organization is committed to the betterment and support of professionals in this field. It’s comprised of six regional divisions.
New Hampshire Community Behavioral Health Association (NHCBHA) – Comprised of the 10 community mental health centers located throughout the state, this organization’s mission is to develop systems and relationships to make sure sustainable high-quality mental health services are available for everyone. Headquartered in Concord, it provides mental health resources and sponsors several mental health programs of its own.
New Hampshire Association for Infant Mental Health (NHAIMH) – This organization recognizes that healthy emotional and social development begins before birth. It sponsors professional development opportunities, annual conferences, and hosts a repository of academic resources.
New Hampshire Division of Behavioral Health – Part of one of the most important state-level agencies –the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)– this division is made up of three component bureaus: the Bureau of Children’s Behavioral Health, the Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services, and the Bureau of Mental Health Services.
Seacoast Mental Health Center – When this organization says it offers a range of treatments it means it. Serving populations like families, children, adolescents, and adults, it provides services that include everything from 24-hour emergency residential services to services for substance use disorders, individual or group therapy, educational services, consultation, and community-based services. Offices are located in Portsmouth and Exeter.
Riverbend Community Mental Health – This non-profit organization focuses on providing specialized behavioral health services in Central New Hampshire from its Concord office. A proud component of the state’s 10 community mental health centers, it’s also a member of the NH Community Behavioral Health Association.
The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester – Serving adults, children, and adolescents from five locations throughout Manchester, this organization offers its clients a wealth of resources that include primary care health services, individual and group therapy, a physical health and wellness program, a community connections program, and much more.
Greater Nashua Mental Health Center – This non-profit community mental health center serves all populations living in the greater Nashua area. Services it provides include intensive outpatient and inpatient treatments, homeless outreach, community support services, court diversion services, therapy, and medication management.