Counselor Licensing Requirements in Washington
Counselor Licensing Requirements in Washington are specific and detailed. Allow us to assist you in navigating your way through this labyrinth to make the process a bit easier.
The following information should prove helpful on your path toward licensure as a counselor in Washington.
Most practitioners in Washington must go through an intensive credentialing process:
- An Agency Affiliated Counselor is authorized to work only at recognized agencies and facilities.
- A Certified Advisor must have an associate degree in a counseling-related field.
- A Certified Counselor must have a Bachelor’s.
- CAs and CCs must complete four hours of AIDS training and take an exam that covers law, ethics, risk assessment, and the screening and referral process.
Washington Counselor Credential Titles
Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC)
Licensed Mental Health Counselor Associate (LMHCA)*
A pre-licensure candidate who has a graduate degree in mental health counseling or related field and is working toward meeting the supervised experience requirements (may renew annually up to 6 times)
Washington Counselor Educational Requirements
Master’s degree or higher in mental health counseling or related field from a regionally accredited college or university that includes a supervised counseling practicum or internship. Individuals who are certified as NCC or CCMHC are considered to meet educational requirements.
ALL professionals must complete:
4 hours of HIV/AIDS education and training.
Washington Counselor Experiential Requirements
3 years of full-time counseling or 3,000 hours of postgraduate supervised mental health counseling in an approved setting.
To include 1,200 hours of direct counseling with individuals, couples, groups, or families and 100 hours of immediate supervision by a board approved supervisor.
Graduates from CACREPaccredited programs can count up to 50 hours of supervision and 500 hours of experience from their practicum/internship.
Washington Counselor Exam Required
NCE or NCMHCE
Washington Requirements for Clinical Supervisors
Washington LMHC Licensed as a mental health counselor, marriage and family therapist, clinical social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist, or psychiatric nurse practitioner, for at least 2 years in good standing, a minimum of 15 hours of training in clinical supervision, and 25 hours of experience in supervision of clinical practice.
Washington Requirements for Out of State Applicants
Applicants must have met the same education, examination, and experience as required by Washington state statute. Applicant must have
passed the NBCC National Counselor Examination (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE).
Verification must be provided directly from the jurisdiction in which the applicant took the required examination.
Washington Scope of Practice
“MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELING” means the application of principles of human development, learning theory, psychotherapy, group dynamics, and etiology of mental illness and dysfunctional behavior to individuals, couples, families, groups, and organizations, for the purpose of treatment of mental disorders and promoting optimal mental health and functionality. Mental health counseling also includes, but is not limited to, the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental and emotional disorders, as well as the application of a wellness model of mental health.
“PSYCHOTHERAPY” means the practice of counseling using diagnosis of mental disorders according to the fourth edition of the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, published in 1994, and the development of treatment plans for counseling based on diagnosis of mental disorders in accordance with established practice standards.
The scope of practice of certified counselors consists exclusively of the following:
(1) Appropriate screening of the client’s level of functional impairment using the global assessment of functioning as described in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Recognition of a mental or physical disorder or a global assessment of functioning score of sixty or less requires that the certified counselor refer the client for diagnosis and treatment to a licensed healthcare practitioner.
(2) If the client has a global assessment of functioning score greater than sixty, a certified counselor may counsel and guide the client in adjusting to life situations, developing new skills, and making desired changes, in accordance with the theories and techniques of a specific counseling method and established practice standards.
(3) If the client has a global assessment of functioning score of sixty or less, a certified counselor may counsel and guide the client in adjusting to life situations, developing new skills, and making desired changes, in accordance with the theories and techniques of a specific counseling method and established practice standards if:
(a) The client has been referred to the certified counselor by a licensed healthcare practitioner and care is provided as part of a plan of treatment developed by the referring practitioner who is actively treating the client. The certified counselor must adhere to any conditions related to the certified counselor’s role as specified in the plan of care; or
(b) The certified counselor referred the client for diagnosis and treatment from a licensed healthcare practitioner and the client refused, in writing, to seek diagnosis and treatment from the other provider. The certified counselor may provide services to the client consistent with a treatment plan developed by the certified counselor and the consultant or supervisor with whom the certified
counselor has a written consultation or supervisory agreement.
(4) A certified counselor must not be the sole treatment provider for a client with a global assessment of functioning score of less than fifty.
The scope of practice of certified advisers consists exclusively of the following:
(1) Appropriate screening of the client’s level of functional impairment using the global assessment of functioning as described in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Recognition of a mental or physical disorder or a global assessment of functioning score of sixty or less requires that the certified adviser refer the client to a licensed healthcare
(2) If the client has a global assessment of functioning score greater than sixty, a certified adviser may counsel and guide the client in adjusting to life situations, developing new skills, and making desired changes, in accordance with the theories and techniques of a specific counseling method and established practice standards.
“AGENCY AFFILIATED COUNSELOR” scope of practice:
(1) An agency affiliated counselor may only provide counseling services as part of his or her employment as an agency affiliated counselor for a recognized agency.
(2) An applicant for an agency affiliated counselor must be employed by, or have an offer of employment from, an agency or facility identified in WAC 246-810-016.
On average, a general counselor in the state of Washington earns between $41,970 and $75,780 each year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Now that you are familiar with the counselor licensing requirements in Washington, visit our How to Become a Counselor in Washington page for a more detailed look into the steps you will need to take to make your dream of becoming a counselor a reality.
WA Licensed Mental Health Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists and Social Workers Advisory Committee
P.O. Box 47852
Olympia, WA 98504
LMHC Application fee: $150
LMHC Initial License fee: $125
LMHCA Application fee: $50
Certified Counselor application and certification fee: $110
Examination or re-examination fee: $85
Certified Adviser application