By Lourie Reichenberg, LPC, NCC
Dont forget to register your supervision right away, was the best piece of advice I received when I completed my masters degree in Counseling Psychology years ago. Contacting the Virginia Board of Counselors, downloading an information packet, and registering supervision with the Board are the first steps on the path towards licensure (a path, by the way, that takes a minimum of two years to complete).
Virginia was the first state in the country to license counselors, and now all the other states except Nevada and California have followed suit (although both states currently have bills pending). The state of Virginia requires completion of a 60 hour academic program, 4,000 hours of supervised experience over a minimum of two years, and passing a comprehensive exam.
The following information is meant to provide a general outline of the process only. Specific details, including the exact requirements, downloadable pdf files, and answers to Frequently Asked Questions, are available on the Virginia Board of Counselors website at http://www.dhp.virginia.gov/counseling. The files are easy to download, user friendly, and self-explanatory. So, set your browser to the website, get your packet, and start heading down the path to Virginia licensure!
- Request an Application Packet. After completing a masters degree in counseling or a related field, the first step is to request an application. The 34-page Supervisor Registration and LPC Application Packet can be downloaded as a pdf file or you can request an application be sent to you by mail. Email your request to Diana Pollick at email@example.com
- Register Supervision. After you have received the packet and reviewed the information, the very first step is to choose a supervisor and register your supervision. Submit the registration form (page 12 of the pdf file) with an official (sealed) copy of your school transcripts and a $50 registration fee.
Additional supervisors can be added for $25 each. One hour of face-to-face supervision is required for every 20 hours of work experience. A total of 200 hours of supervision are required for licensure. The requirements for supervision, as well as requirements for supervisors, are very specific and much too detailed to reiterate here. Please read the application packet to ensure that your supervision meets the requirements set forth by the state of Virginia and that you are receiving enough hours of supervision.
- Obtain 4000 hours Experience. In the state of Virginia, 4000 hours of clinical experience is required prior to licensure. 2000 of these hours must be face-to-face contact with clients. All of these hours must be under the direction of a qualified a supervisor. Documentation of these hours must be provided by the supervisor on a quarterly basis on Form 2-IR. Again, hold on to this paperwork until you submit all of the materials at the end.
- Complete 60 Graduate Credits. Most counseling masters programs are 48 credit hours. Sixty hours are required for Virginia licensure. Coursework must include thirteen core areas (visit www.dhp.virginia.gov/counseling for a complete list).
- Document. Document. Document. Since the licensure process is so long (a minimum of two years) it is best to complete the forms as you go, rather than waiting until the end, however, you will submit your paperwork to the Board in one concise packet when you have met the requirements and are ready to apply to take the NCMHCE exam. For example, after you graduate, have your internship supervisor fill out Form 2-IR, and then you retain this form until your application is complete.
- Apply for Licensure. After you have completed all the requirements for licensure, you must apply for licensure. Fill out the licensure request form, make copies of everything (except sealed transcripts), and send your application and payment via certified mail or Fed Ex to the Virginia Board of Counselors (see address below). Once your application has been approved, you have two years in which to take the LPC exam.
- Prepare for the LPC Exam. NVLPC members and others provide regular workshops and individual training on how to prepare for the LPC exam. Look for times and locations in future issues of this newsletter, or visit the website at www.counselors-nvlpc.org.
- Take the LPC Exam. Examinations are generally held three times a year in Richmond. Following are the dates for 2007:
Upcoming Dates for Virginia Licensure Exam (NCMHCE)
Exam Deadline for Applications
April 21 January 2, 2007
July 21 April 2, 2007
Oct. 20 June 22, 2007
- Apply to Obtain your License. After the application has been approved, and you pass the licensure exam, you will be notified about six weeks later if you have passed.
What about the Exceptions?
As many of our NVLPC members have discovered, there are always exceptions. If you moved to Virginia from another state, if your masters degree is from another country, if some of your classes dont quite meet the requirementsall of these situations can delay your application and cause frustration. Please check with the Board of Counselors if you have any questions about classes, credits, or work experience.
How to Contact the Virginia board of Professional Counselors
Board of Counseling
6603 W Broad St., 5th Fl.
Richmond, VA 23230
Attn: Diana Pollick
Because the process can seem daunting, NVLPC provides the following support to help you along the way:
1. A Pre-Licensed Support Group where you can find information, camaraderie, and a study buddy to walk with you down the path. Contact Donna Reed (Resilientally@aol.com) or Christine Heaton (firstname.lastname@example.org) for exact meeting times, dates, and locations.
2. NVLPC has a list of LPCs who fulfill the requirements and are willing to provide supervision. Contact Roberta Stopler (Rstopler@aol.com) to request the complete list.
3. Monthly meetings, luncheons, workshops, and other programs that provide continuing education which can be counted towards your professional experience.
So, as you stand on the threshold, with your masters program behind you, and licensure set out in front of you, be sure to avail yourself of all the resources that NVLPC has to offer. Oh, and dont forget to register your supervision!
Disclaimer: NVLPC is committed to the needs of graduate students, pre-licensed counselors, and licensed counselors. This article is meant to be informative, but is not meant to be comprehensive. Clinicians should check with their state licensing board to ensure they are in compliance with state requirements.