The Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist (CSWMFT) Board issues three types of counselor licenses:
- Counselor Trainee (CT)
- Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
- Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC)
The CT license exists so students can gain counseling experience without being fully licensed. It is not required for progressing to the LPC or LPCC licenses, however your school, practicum supervisor, or internship supervisor may require you to be licensed as a CT depending on their individual policies.
The LPC license allows you to render professional counseling services to individuals, groups, and the general public. You can choose to complete a period of supervised experience and upgrade your LPC license to an LPCC license, which allows you to include independent clinical counseling services in your practice as a professional counselor. Clinical counseling includes the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders.
As an LPC or LPCC, you can also complete additional requirements to add a supervisor status endorsement to your license. This allows you to supervise LPCs who are working towards upgrading their license to an LPCC. With a supervisor endorsement on your license you’ll be an LPC-S or LPCC-S.
Steps Towards Counseling Licensure in OH
The basic progression towards ultimately becoming an LPCC involves these steps:
- Earning a master’s degree from a program that’s accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), or qualifying through an alternate route; either way you’ll also need to complete a practicum and internship as part of your education program
- Passing an exam from the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)
- Gaining two years of supervised clinical work experience
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Counselor Trainee (CT)
- Be enrolled in a practicum or internship that’s part of a qualifying master’s degree program.
- Create an online account with eLicense Ohio. This enables you to take the next step, which is to submit a CT application. As you apply you’ll be able to upload verification about your practicum or internship.
- You’ll need to complete a criminal background check through the FBI and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI). The CSWMFT Board has prepared this video to walk you through that process. Have your results sent to the CSWMFT Board.
- Complete your practicum or internship under the supervision of an authorized LPC or LPCC. If your practicum or internship requires you to be a CT, you must wait until the CSWMFT Board emails you with notification that your online CT license application has been approved.
- Maintain your CT license as long as you’re enrolled in a program, practicum, or internship that requires it. You must update your CT license every semester or quarter, and you do this with an extension form that’s available in your online eLicense Ohio account.
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
- Earn a qualifying master’s degree from a program that’s accredited by the CACREP, or qualify through an alternate route. If it’s CACREP-accredited it will include a qualifying practicum (100 hours) and qualifying internship (600 hours). If it’s not CACREP-accredited you must make sure your program contains a qualifying practicum and internship.
- If you haven’t already, sign up for an online account with eLicense Ohio. This enables you to fill out an online application for the LPC license with the CSWMFT Board.
- Once the CSWMFT Board approves your application it will notify the NBCC that you’re cleared to register for its National Counselor Examination (NCE). At this point you have six months to register with the NBCC and pass the NCE.
- Finish completing your online LPC application. The CSWMFT Board needs:
The results of your NCE exam
Your official school transcripts – if you’ve completed everything else you can apply for a provisional license while waiting for your school to release your transcripts
If you haven’t completed them already, results from your FBI and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) background checks
Attest to having watched the CSWMFT Board’s Law and Rules Video
- Once you’ve submitted an application that the CSWMFT Board has judged to be complete it will issue your LPC license.
Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC)
- Be an LPC and complete 24 months of supervised experience. This must total at least 3,000 hours, including 150 hours of supervision completed under a qualified LPCC. Once you complete this your supervisor will notify the CSWMFT Board by submitting an LPCC Supervision Form.
- Submit an application for LPCC licesure through your online account with eLicense Ohio, along with a $100 application fee. Once the CSWMFT Board approves your application it will notify the NBCC that you’re cleared to test.
- Register with the NBCC for its National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). Arrange to have your passing scores sent to the CSWMFT Board.
- Complete fingerprint background checks with the FBI and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI). This is only valid for one year, so you’ll need to repeat this process even though you did it as an LPC.
- Watch the CSWMFT Board’s Law and Rules Video. You’re required to do this each time you apply for a new license.
- Finish your application. For each step you complete you can update your application online. Once it’s complete the CSWMFT Board will issue your LPCC license.
Adding a supervisor endorsement – LPCC-S
You can opt to add a supervisor endorsement to your LPCC license. You do this through your online eLicense Ohio account. To be eligible you need:
One year and 1500 hours of clinical experience as an LPCC, including five training supervision sessions with an LPCC-S
24 hours of academic preparation or continuing education, with six hours each in the subjects of:
Assessment, evaluation, and remediation
Management and administration
Required Education and Degrees
The most direct way of fulfilling the education requirement for any type of counselor licensure in Ohio is by earning a master’s degree from any of the following types of programs that are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP):
- Clinical Mental Health Counseling
- Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling
- Addiction Counseling
These programs are understood to automatically include practicums and internships that you must also complete to qualify for licensure. Currently there are 26 such CACREP-accredited counseling programs in Ohio, structured as the following degrees:
- Master of Arts
- Master of Education
- Master of Arts in Education
- Master of Science
- Master of Rehabilitation Science
- Master of Science in Education
There is also an alternate path to fulfilling the education requirement with a non-CACREP-accredited master’s degree in Counseling. To qualify, your master’s degree in Counseling must be accredited by one of the following:
- US Department of Education
- An accrediting agency that’s recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
In order for the CSWMFT Board to ascertain that you’ve completed qualifying courses you’ll also need to include a Counselor Course Worksheet with your LPC application. To qualify with the alternative path your degree program must also include a qualifying practicum and internship.
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You can also qualify for licensure with a doctoral degree in Counseling. The CSWMFT Board will notify you if you need to complete any additional coursework to qualify.
Renewing Your License
Your license expires every two years. The CSWMFT Board will email you with a renewal reminder 90 days before your license is set to expire. To be eligible for renewal, during each renewal cycle you’ll need to complete 30 hours of continuing professional education. Three hours must be in ethics, and if you’re an LPC-S or LPCC-S you need three hours in supervision. In general your continuing professional education needs to be in subject areas that are fundamentally related to counseling. You renew your license online through your eLicense Ohio account. The renewal fee for the LPC license is $83.50, and $103.50 for the LPCC license.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Counselor in Ohio?
Completing the education requirement to qualify for any level of licensure takes an investment of at least six years – four years to earn a bachelor’s degree and two additional years to earn a master’s degree in Counseling. This will qualify you for the LPC license. To upgrade to an LPCC license you’ll need to acquire at least two years of supervised experience, bringing your total time investment to eight years. Adding a supervisor endorsement to your LPCC license takes one additional year of experience.
The Ohio CSWMFT Board has a reciprocity agreement with its counterpart in Kentucky. That means LPCs and LPCCs licensed in Kentucky can apply for licensure in Ohio based on reciprocity.
The Ohio CSWMFT Board also grants LPC and LPCC licenses based on endorsement if you meet the following requirements:
- You have a graduate degree that demonstrates knowledge in the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders
- You’ve continuously engaged in professional counseling in your home state for at least five years
- Your license is in good standing and comparable to Ohio’s LPC or LPCC licenses
- You’ve passed an examination to become a counselor
If you’re applying for an LPCC license based on endorsement you’ll need to complete a period of 750 hours of supervised work experience that’s approved by the CSWMFT Board.
To initiate an application via reciprocity or endorsement, create an online account through eLicense Ohio.
Practicums and Internships
If you graduate from a program that’s CACREP-accredited then it’s automatically understood it includes a qualifying practicum and internship. Practicums must be at least 100 hours and include 40 hours of direct service. Internships must be at least 600 hours and include 240 hours of direct service. You must complete these under the supervision of a qualified LPC (practicum only) or LPCC (practicum and/or internship). Your practicum or internship may require that you become a licensed Counselor Trainee (CT) before you begin.
If your education program is not CACREP-accredited then you must include the following with your LPC license application:
- Counselor Course Worksheet documenting your practicum and internship hours
- CT Internship Supervision Evaluation
Both exams that qualify you for licensure in Ohio are sponsored by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC):
- National Counselor Examination (NCE) – this qualifies you for the LPC license
- National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) – this qualifies you for the LPCC license
These are both computer-based tests. The NCE is multiple choice, and the NCMHCE asks you questions based on different clinical scenarios. The NBCC has contracted the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE) to administer these exams. The CCE manages the online ProCounselor portal that you use to register for an exam once the Ohio CSWMFT Board has cleared you to test. You can find more information about these exams in the NCE and NCMHCE handbooks.
In 2020 the US Department of Labor released the following figures for different counseling careers, specifically in Ohio:
- Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors – $57,160
- Marriage and Family Therapists – $46,530
- Rehabilitation Counselors – $40,360
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor – $50,020
- Counselors, all others – $50,940
Types of Counseling Careers
The US Department of Labor identifies 25,140 professionals employed in the counseling occupations listed above. Of those:
- 44% are Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors
- 31% are Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
- 22% are Rehabilitation Counselors
- 2% are Marriage and Family Therapists
- 2% are Counselors, all others
Ohio Counseling Association (OCA) – Serving as Ohio’s hub for important counseling information, the OCA sponsors an annual conference, hosts other networking events, and strives to accomplish strategic goals that improve the profession through legislative advocacy and the advancement of best-practice methods.
Ohio School Counselor Association (OSCA) – As school counselors promote student success, the OSCA views its mission as being one to promote school counselors through empowerment and support. Members enjoy opportunities for discounted continuing education, trained leadership and expertise, and a professional newsletter, among other perks.
Ohio Mental Health Counselor’s Association (OMHCA) – Taking part in a statewide annual counselors conference isn’t the only reason the OMHCA is an important player in Ohio’s field of mental health professionals. It sponsors other professional events throughout the year and serves as an important networking resource for mental health counselors from all areas of practice.
Ohio Association for Spiritual, Ethical, and Religious Values in Counseling (OASERVIC) – Whether it’s providing camaraderie and support for counselors or taking part in annual conferences and networking events, the OASERVIC serves as a valuable resource for its members and affiliated professionals.
Ohio Association for College Admission Counseling (OACAC) – This organization sponsors professional development activities, annual events, workshops, grant funding options, and plenty of opportunities for interaction with colleagues. This is a great resource for those working directly in this field as well as affiliates including students, retirees, high school counselors, and more.
Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (MHAS) – Under the umbrella of the Ohio Department of Health, the MHAS is well-known to professional counselors as being one of the most important state-level agencies for people facing the challenges posed by behavioral health and addiction disorder issues.
Georgetown Behavioral Hospital – Featuring recovery-based activities that are part of a structured daily schedule of activities is just one of the strategies this treatment facility uses in helping its clients overcome mental, behavioral, and addiction disorders. This 46-bed adult mental health facility offers services 24 hours a day.
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Kettering Health Network – This non-profit network of healthcare providers includes nine hospitals and 120 outpatient facilities. Behavioral health services are offered from four different locations. Treatment options include inpatient services, intensive outpatient programs, and standard outpatient programs like evaluations, medication management, and individual therapy sessions.
Recovery Resources – Based out of several locations in the Cleveland area, this company offer clients the option for individual treatment or to join specific programs that are tailored to issues like gambling addiction, preventative education for adolescents, and family services. Issues addressed by counseling professionals include mental health treatment, housing and employment, HIV/AIDS prevention education, psychological assessments, and medical care.
Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services – Every year the 700-strong team of staff members at the GCBHS serves more than 30,000 people thanks to a budget of more than $45 million. Its treatment options include a traditional outpatient program, an intensive outpatient program, medication-assisted treatment, dual disorders treatment, and more.