Counselor Licensing Requirements in California
The more that you learn about Counselor Licensing Requirements in California, the more that you will be prepared to find success in your chosen field.
But, before you can start practicing, you have to first make sure that you meet all the requirements for licensure.
First, you will need to satisfy the Counselor Licensing Requirements California if you are interested in having a counseling practice. The sanctioned title is Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC). Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Clinical Social Workers can also pursue the LPCC license. The state of California started licensing mental health counselors back in 2011. That same year, there became pathways to “grandfather in” practicing counselors. Since 2012, it has become mandatory that all counselors follow a traditional path. If you have already been licensed in another state, your path will be slightly different.
In the state of California, LPCC’s are licensed through the Board of Behavioral Sciences. Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor is their official title.
The information provided below is going to assist you through your journey to obtain your counseling license in California. If you would like to ensure that you are on the correct path, feel free to contact the Board of Behavioral Sciences.
California Counselor Credential Titles
Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC)*
Professional Clinical Counselor Intern (PCCI): An unlicensed person, who has completed the education requirements and is registered with the board to complete the supervision requirements to be licensed as an LPCC. (Has to renew annually up to 5 years)
California Counselor Education Requirements
Master’s degree or higher that is counseling or psychotherapy in content:
Enrolled before 8/1/12 and graduate before 12/31/18: Minimum of 48 graduate semester hours.
Enrolled after 8/1/12 or graduate after 12/31/18: Minimum of 60 graduate semester hours.
Additional Educational Requirements:
1) 15 contact hours in alcoholism and other chemical substance abuse, dependency
(2) 10 contact hours in human sexuality
(3) A two semester unit or three quarter unit survey course in psychopharmacology
(4) 15 contact hours in spousal or partner abuse assessment, detection, and intervention strategies*
(5) 7 contact hours in child abuse assessment and reporting
(6) 18 contact hours in California law and professional ethics for professional clinical counselors* (possible that graduate course work will suffice)
(7) 10 contact hours in aging and long-term care*
(8) 15 contact hours in crisis or trauma counseling*
California Counselor Experiential Requirements
3,000 hours of post-master’s supervised counseling experience. 1,750 have to be Direct Client Contact hours Areas with guidance on hours: 500 hours max for group counseling, 250 hours max for phone crisis counseling, 150 hours minimum of clinical experience in a hospital or community mental health setting; combined total of 1,250 hours combined total max: (A) Direct supervisor contact. (B) Client centered advocacy. (C) 250 hours max in administering tests, (D) 250 hours max in attending conferences.
California Counseling Exams Required
NCMHCE (as of January 1, 2014) – taken after experiential requirements have been fulfilled. AND California Law and Ethics Examination– taken while acquiring supervision
Requirements for Clinical Supervisors
Licensed as a professional clinical counselor, marriage and family therapist, clinical psychologist, clinical social worker, or physician and surgeon who is certified in psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, with two years of clinical experience and has received professional training in supervision, has not provided therapeutic services to the clinical counselor trainee or intern and has a current and valid license that is not under suspension or probation.
Requirements for Out of State Applicants
The board may issue a license to a person who, at the time of application, has held for at least two years, a valid license as a professional clinical counselor, or other counseling license that allows the applicant to independently provide clinical mental health services in another jurisdiction of the United States, if the education and supervised experience requirements are substantially equivalent to those in California and the person successfully completes the examinations required by the board and pays the required fees. Applications for reciprocity will be accepted beginning January 1, 2011. Those who apply after January 1, 2014 must meet additional core content requirements that take effect in 2012.
Scope of Practice
“PROFESSIONAL CLINICAL COUNSELING” means the application of counseling interventions and psycho-therapeutic techniques to identify and re-mediate cognitive, mental, and emotional issues, including personal growth, adjustment to disability, crisis intervention, and psychosocial and environmental problems. “Professional clinical counseling” includes conducting assessments
for the purpose of establishing counseling goals and objectives to empower individuals to deal adequately with life situations, reduce stress, experience growth, change behavior, and make well-informed, rational decisions.
“Professional clinical counseling” is focused exclusively on the application of counseling interventions and psychotherapeutic techniques for the purposes of improving mental health, and is not intended to capture other, nonclinical forms of counseling for the purposes of licensure. For purposes of this paragraph, “nonclinical” means nonmental health.
“Professional clinical counseling” does not include the assessment or treatment of couples or families unless the professional clinical counselor has completed all of the following additional training and education, beyond the minimum training and education required for licensure:
(A) One of the following:
(i) Six semester units or nine quarter units specifically focused on the theory and application of marriage and family therapy.
(ii) A named specialization or emphasis area on the qualifying degree in marriage and family therapy; marital and family therapy; marriage, family, and child counseling; or couple and family therapy.
(B) No less than 500 hours of documented supervised experience working directly with couples, families, or children.
(C) A minimum of six hours of continuing education specific to marriage and family therapy, completed in each license renewal cycle.
“Professional clinical counseling” does not include the provision of clinical social work services.
“Counseling interventions and psychotherapeutic techniques” means the application of cognitive, affective, verbal or nonverbal, systemic or holistic counseling strategies that include principles of development, wellness, and maladjustment that reflect a pluralistic society. These interventions and techniques are specifically implemented in the context of a professional clinical counseling
relationship and use a variety of counseling theories and approaches.
“Assessment” means selecting, administering, scoring, and interpreting tests, instruments, and other tools and methods designed to measure an individual’s attitudes, abilities, aptitudes, achievements, interests, personal characteristics, disabilities, and mental, emotional, and behavioral concerns and development and the use of methods and techniques for understanding human behavior in relation to coping with, adapting to, or ameliorating changing life situations, as part of the counseling process. “Assessment” shall not include the use of projective techniques in the assessment of personality, individually administered intelligence tests, neuropsychological testing, or utilization of a battery of three or more tests to determine the presence of psychosis, dementia, amnesia, cognitive impairment, or criminal behavior. Professional clinical counselors shall refer clients to other licensed health care professionals when they identify issues beyond their
own scope of education, training, and experience.
Now that you are familiar with the counselor licensing requirements in California, visit our How to Become a Counselor in California page for a more detailed look into the steps you will need to take to make your dream of becoming a counselor a reality.
Additional Information for Counselor Licensing Requirements in CA
CALIFORNIA Board of Behavioral Sciences
1625 N. Market Boulevard, Suite S-200
Sacramento, CA 95834
California Association for Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors
P.O. Box 280640
Northridge, CA 91328
Licensure requirements and additional information can be found on their website.
PCCI Annual Registration
LPCC Examination Eligibility
Application: $280 ($180 application, $100 California law and ethics examination)
LPCC Biennial License Renewal $175
Schooling Information for Counselors in California
- Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology
- Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology
- Bachelor of Arts in Psychology - Criminal Justice Concentration
- Bachelor of Arts in Psychology - Organizational Psychology Concentration
- Ph.D. in General Psychology: Integrating Technology, Learning, and Psychology
- Ph.D. in General Psychology: Performance Psychology
- M.A. in Autism Spectrum Disorders
- M.S. in Christian Counseling: Substance Use and Addictive Disorders
- M.S. in Christian Counseling
- M.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Life Coaching
- Graduate Certificate of Completion in Life Coaching
- M.S. in Addiction Counseling
- M.S. in Professional Counseling
- M.S. in Professional Counseling with an Emphasis in Childhood and Adolescence Disorders
- M.S. in Professional Counseling with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy
- M.S. in Professional Counseling with an Emphasis in Trauma
- M.S. in Mental Health and Wellness
- M.S. in Mental Health and Wellness with an Emphasis in Community Mental Health Administration
- M.S. in Mental Health and Wellness with an Emphasis in Family Dynamics
- M.S. in Mental Health and Wellness with Emphasis in Grief and Bereavement
- M.S. in Mental Health and Wellness with Emphasis in Prevention
- Graduate Certificate of Completion in Mental Health and Wellness Emphasis in Community Health Administration
- M.S. in Psychology: General Psychology
- M.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Human Factors
- Graduate Certificate of Completion in GeroPsychology
- Graduate Certificate of Completion in Human Factors Psychology
- PhD - Addiction Psychology
- PhD - Advanced Studies in Human Behavior
- PhD - Counselor Education and Supervision (CACREP-accredited)
- PhD - Educational Psychology
- PhD - Industrial/Organizational Psychology
- PhD - Psychology
- BS - Psychology
- MS - Addiction Studies
- MS - Applied Behavior Analysis
- MS - Child and Adolescent Development
- MS - Educational Psychology
- MS - Evaluation, Research, and Measurement
- MS - Industrial/Organizational Psychology
- MS - Leadership Coaching Psychology
- MS - Marriage and Family Counseling/Therapy (CACREP-, COAMFTE-accredited)
- MS - Mental Health Counseling (CACREP-accredited)
- MS - Psychology
- MS - School Counseling (CACREP-accredited)
- MS - Sport Psychology
- MS - Studies in Human Behavior
- MS - Applied Research
- MS - Clinical Counseling
- MS - Forensic Psychology
- MS - Sex Therapy
- Psy.D. Clinical Psychology
- Psy.D. Clinical Forensic Psychology
- M.A. Industrial & Organizational Psychology
- M.A. Clinical Psychology, Marital and Family Therapy Specialization
- M.S. Applied Behavior Analysis
- M.A. Forensic Psychology
- Psy.D. Marital and Family Therapy
- Psy.D. Applied Clinical Psychology
- Ph.D. Psychology, Behavior Analysis Specialization
- DBA - Industrial/Organization Psychology
- PhD - Therapy with Military Families
- PhD - Medical Family Therapy
- PhD - General Family Therapy
- PhD - Couple Therapy
- PhD - Child and Adolescent Therapy
- PhD - Industrial Organizational Psychology
- PhD - Health Psychology
- PhD - General Psychology
- PhD - Gender Diversity Studies
- PhD - Mental Health Policy and Practice
- PhD - Addictions
- PhD - Gerontology
- PhD - Trauma and Disaster Relief
- DMFT - Child and Adolescent Therapy
- DMFT - Couple Therapy
- DMFT - General Family Therapy
- DMFT - Medical Family Therapy
- DMFT - Mental Health Administration
- DMFT - Small Business Development and Entrepreneurship
- DMFT - Therapy with Military Families
- MAPsy - Gender Diversity Studies
- MAPsy - General Psychology
- MAPsy - Industrial Organizational Psychology
- Master of Arts - Marriage & Family Therapy
- MAMFT - Couple Therapy
- MAMFT - General Family Therapy
- MAMFT - LGBTQ Couple and Family Therapy
- MAMFT - Medical Family Therapy
- MAMFT - Military Family Therapy
- Master of Science in Forensic Psychology
- BA in Psychology
- BA in Psychology - Clinical/Counseling
- BA in Psychology
- BA in Psychology - Clinical/Counseling