A part of the Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors (TSBEPC) issues the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) credential. This is a full counseling license that allows you to practice independently in Texas without the requirement for supervision.
You’ll initially start out as a Licensed Professional Counselor-Associate (LPC-Associate). This allows you to practice under supervision while you gain the necessary supervised experience you need to qualify for the full LPC license.
The TSBEPC also issues a license for Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-Supervisor). This is the highest level of licensure available to counselors. In addition to permitting practice as an LPC, it also allows you to supervise LPC-Associates while they qualify for full LPC licensure.
Steps Towards Counseling Licensure in Texas
Gaining the full LPC license that’s issued by the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors (TSBEPC) is a process that involves:
- Education – You need a graduate degree in Counseling or a counseling-related field; have your school send your official transcripts either directly to the TSBEPC, or to you in a sealed envelope that you’ll submit with your application for licensure
- An internship or practicum – This is often included as part of your education program
- Supervised experience – You’ll need to complete this to qualify for full licensure
- Passing a Texas Jurisprudence Exam – You can register for this here and take it online; it covers the Licensed Professional Counselor Act plus other applicable rules and laws
- Passing an exam from the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)
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Licensed Professional Counselor-Associate (LPC-Associate)
- Fulfill the education requirement. This is a graduate degree in Counseling or a counseling-related field that’s at least 60 semester credits. If it’s in a counseling-related field it must meet specific standards. You’ll need to complete a practicum or graduate internship as part of becoming eligible for licensure, and this is often part of your graduate degree program. The practicum must be at least 300 hours and include 100 hours of direct client contact. Include this form with your application for licensure to confirm you’ve completed a qualifying practicum.
- Pass one of the following exams offered by the NBCC; you can register for the exams here, and once you pass have the NBCC send your official score reports to the TSBEPC:1.) National Counselor Exam (NCE) 2.) National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam (NCMHCE)
- Pass the Texas Jurisprudence Exam; $40 fee.
- Prepare to gain qualifying supervised experience. You’ll need to locate a supervisor to fill out their portion of a Supervisory Agreement Form. Submit this completed form with your application for licensure.
- Submit an application for an LPC-Associate license to the TSBEPC; $190 fee. Once the TSBEPC has received your application and the documents verifying you’ve completed Steps 1-4, it will issue you an LPC-Associate license. This means your Supervisory Agreement is also approved. The LPC-Associate will allow you to fulfill the supervised experience requirement for becoming a full LPC. The term “LPC-Intern” is used interchangeably with “LPC-Associate”.
- Complete the supervised experience requirement to become a full LPC. The LPC-Associate license is valid for 60 months. If it expires before you’ve completed the LPC supervision requirement you must re-apply for the LPC-Associate license. As you complete your supervised experience, keep track of it on this form.
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
- Be an LPC-Associate who has completed the LPC supervised experience requirement. This is 3,000 hours of supervised post-graduate-degree experience completed over at least 18 months, including 1,500 hours of direct client counseling contact. Once you’ve completed this, fill out a Supervised Experience Documentation form, give it to your supervisor, and your supervisor will send it to the TSBEPC.
- Submit all forms that are relevant to your supervision to the TSBEPC, along with an application to upgrade to an LPC license.
- Once the TSBEPC approves your application it will issue your full LPC license.
Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-Supervisor)
- If you want to become a qualified supervisor for LCP-Associates you’ll need to start by meeting the experience requirement. You must have been a full LPC in good standing for at least 60 months.
- Complete a supervisor training course and submit proof of such with your supervisor license application. To be acceptable, the program must have been completed in the last few years and meet one of these standards: 1.) Be a doctoral-level course in the supervision of professional mental health and counseling services. 2.) Be a 40-hour training course that meets requirements
- Submit a licensure application for LPC-Supervisor Specialty Recognition to the TSBEPC. Once the TSBEPC approves your application it will issue your supervisor specialty recognition.
Renewing Your License
The LPC license is timed to expire on the last day of your birth month. For your first renewal the LPC license will expire 12 months after this initial date. From that point on it will expire every two years. 30 days before your license is set to expire, the TSBEPC will mail you information on how to renew your license. To be eligible for renewal you must complete 24 hours of continuing education for each two-year renewal period, including four hours in ethics. You must also re-take the Texas Jurisprudence Exam as a condition for renewal. If you’re an LPC-Supervisor you must complete six hours of continuing education on the subject of supervision. There is a $106 fee each renewal cycle.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Counselor in Texas?
Once you graduate from high school you can expect to invest at least six years into your education. That’s the amount of time it typically takes to earn a bachelor’s degree, and then a master’s degree in Counseling or a related field. At this point you’ll be able to become an LPC-Associate. With 1.5 years of supervised experience you can become a full LPC, for a total of 7.5 years. With an additional five years of LPC experience you can qualify to become an LPC-Supervisor.
You can be eligible for an LPC license in Texas if you’ve held an out-of-state LPC whose qualification standards were at least as rigorous as Texas’. Your LPC license must be in good standing and you must have had it for at least 60 months. If you’ve been a licensed LPC in another state for at least two years, Texas considers you to have fulfilled the academic requirements for licensure, including an internship.
Use this form to apply for the LPC license and include a $200 fee. The TSBEPC also needs to receive:
- Your official NBCC exam scores
- Proof of completion of the Texas Jurisprudence Exam
- Official academic transcripts
- Verification that you’ve completed an equivalent period of supervised experience
- Official verification of your out-of-state license
Practicums and Internships
Qualifying for the LPC-Associate and subsequently the LPC license requires completing a practicum or internship that’s at least 300 hours, including at least 100 hours of direct client contact. This is typically included in master’s and doctoral-level Counseling programs. If your education is in a counseling-related field then you still must ensure you complete a qualifying practicum or internship. You must document your practicum or internship experience on this form, and include it when you apply for the LPC-Associate license.
To qualify for licensure in Texas you must pass one of the following exams, which are both sponsored by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC):
The NCE exam is more basic with 200 multiple-choice questions, while the NCMHCE is more advanced and evaluates your knowledge with clinical simulations.
These are both administered by the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE). The CCE manages the online ProCounselor portal that you can use to register for these exams.
Required Education and Degrees
The most direct way to fulfill the education requirement for becoming an LPC-Associate and subsequently an LPC is by earning a master’s degree in Counseling. If you want more advanced education you can qualify with a doctoral degree in Counseling.
You can also qualify for licensure with a graduate degree in a counseling-related field. Counseling-related is defined as a mental health discipline, which includes social work, psychiatry, and marriage and family therapy, among others.
If you’re fulfilling the education requirement with a degree that’s in a counseling-related field, then it must include at least one course covering each of the following subjects:
- Human growth and development
- Abnormal human behavior
- Assessment or appraisal techniques
- Counseling techniques and methods
- Career development and lifestyle
- Cultural, social, and family issues
- Professional orientation
- Addictions counseling
- Counselor ethics
- Couples, marriage, and family counseling
In 2020 the US Department of Labor reported the following average annual salary statistics for these occupations:
- Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors – $60,470
- Marriage and Family Therapists – $50,840
- Rehabilitation Counselors – $45,300
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor – $49,330
- Counselors, all others – $55,890
- Occupational Therapists – $85,090
Types of Counseling Careers
Of the state’s 52,510 professionals listed in the counseling occupations tracked by the US Department of Labor:
- 49% are Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors
- 22% are Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
- 17% are Occupational Therapists
- 6% are Rehabilitation Counselors
- 4% are Counselors, all others
- 1% are Marriage and Family Therapists
Texas Counseling Association (TCA) – Proud of its members from all walks of life –including school counselors, counselors in private practice, and counselors working with the criminal justice system– this organization works for the betterment of the profession. Member benefits include free subscriptions to professional publications, access to continuing education, and free telephone legal consultations.
Lone Star State School Counselor Association (LSSSCA) – This organization works to expand the influence and image of school counselors throughout the state. It promotes ethical practices and professionalism through advocacy, leadership, and professional development.
Christian Counselors of Texas (CCT) – This association of independent mental health care providers has been fostering the professional development and support of those involved in this field for over 35 years. It has local chapters throughout the state and is more than 300-members strong.
Houston Licensed Professional Counselors Association (HLPCA) – Providing free monthly programs to members, this organization is also state-approved to offer continuing education for counselors and social workers. Since 1990 the HLPCA has been raising public awareness of LPCs while simultaneously serving as a professional networking hub.
Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) – This state-level department provides a range of important services. Notable among these for LPCs are its mental health and substance abuse services. These include sub-divisions focusing on adult mental health, adult substance abuse, children’s mental health, crisis services, and youth substance abuse.
Dallas Counseling and Treatment Center (CTC) – This company specializes in providing counseling services to clients. It offers treatment out of four locations in North Texas and accepts most major insurance. Its team of LPCs work with social workers to help clients address issues like substance abuse, depression, and anxiety. Population focuses range from kids and adolescents to adults and the elderly.
WTCR Programs – Founded in 1986, this organization provides medication and counseling help that focuses specifically on outpatient opioid use disorder treatments. It has offices in 10 cities including Plano, Odessa, Dallas, and Amarillo.
Healing Springs Ranch – This residential treatment center is internationally recognized for the services it provides to adults recovering from addiction, substance abuse, and other mental health issues. It’s located to the north of metro Dallas-Ft. Worth.
West Texas Counseling and Guidance – Located in San Angelo, this facility provides counseling and educational services to residents of the surrounding area. It specializes in suicide support, children’s services relating to issues like divorce, and veterans issues relating to issues like PTSD, depression, and anxiety.