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A State by State Guide to Mental Health Counselor Licensure Requirements

Mental Health Counselor Licensure in Arizona

Arizona mental health counselors are licensed by the Board of Behavioral Health Examiners (AzBBHE) as Licensed Professional Counselors, or LPCs. The Arizona LPC is a therapy license; in order to achieve it, counselors must accrue postgraduate experience performing psychotherapy.

While completing postgraduate psychotherapy practice hours, supervisees hold Licensed Associate Counselor (LAC) status.

Select an Arizona Mental Health Counselor Licensure Topic:

Educational Requirements

A counselor must have a degree at the master’s level or higher. A degree that is not CACREP- or CORE-accredited must meet a set of state-adopted standards (http://azbbhe.us/pdfs/Article%205.pdf).

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Stringent coursework standards went into effect in 2007. Each of the content areas listed below must be represented by a three semester hour (or four quarter hour or trimester hour) course:

  • Professional ethics
  • Counseling theories
  • Basic counseling tests and appraisal
  • Diagnosis/ assessment/ treatment planning
  • Marriage and family therapy
  • Research methodology
  • Theory and practice of group counseling
  • Career development and counseling
  • Human growth and development
  • Basic counseling skills/ helping relationship
  • Social and cultural counseling diversity issues
  • Chemical dependency counseling

Counseling theories coursework is to include at least five of the following theories: cognitive behavioral, person centered, brief solution focused, rational emotive, psychoanalytic and neopsychoanalytic, behavioral, or Adlerian. Research methods coursework is to include methods such as quantitative, qualitative, and single-case, as well as opportunities and challenges in carrying out counseling research, and use of research to enhance counselor effectiveness. A comprehensive list of required content is found in the application packet.

The student will either have 1) 900 hours of practicum, internship, or supervised experience or 2) 100 hours of qualifying pre-practicum and 600 hours of practicum, internship, or supervised experience.

In 2008, a 60-semester program length was instituted.

Additional coursework needed to meet the 60 semester hour requirement may be drawn from the above core areas or from any of the following:

  • Counseling intervention
  • Rehabilitation counseling
  • Counseling special populations (forensic populations, elderly, juveniles, dual diagnosis, gender specific)
  • Biological basis of behavior
  • Crisis intervention
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Human sexuality

A candidate who has a graduate degree in counseling or a related field (defined as having at least 36 semester hours of qualifying coursework), but does not meet all coursework requirements, may remove the deficiencies and submit a request for reassessment. The timeframe is 12 months.

Supervised Experience Requirements

Arizona requires 3,200 experience hours. Only hours related to psychotherapy practice can be credited. The Board does not award credit for hours spent performing other job duties like case management or psycho-educational services. Hours spent in supervision, documentation, and training that are specifically focused on psychotherapy may be credited toward the total experience requirement, but at least 1,600 hours must be spent in direct service provision.

The trainee will need at least 100 hours of supervision. The Board requires detailed documentation of clinical supervision sessions. There must be a total of at least 10 hours spent making direct observations or reviewing tapes. The Board has provided a list of potential supervisors who have gone through a review process (http://azbbhe.us/node/23).

Group supervision sessions of two to six may be credited, but the Board notes that staff meetings generally do not meet criteria. Group supervision may not comprise more than half of the total supervision hours.

In order for work performed as an independent contractor to be creditable, it must conform to a strict set of standards. The supervisee must enter into a written contract before rendering services; the contract must meet the provisions found in A.A.C. R4‐6‐210(3). Documentation must also meet state standards.

The supervisor will provide an evaluation as part of the verification process. The notarized form will be included in the application package in a signed, sealed envelope.

The Examination Process

Candidates must take and pass the National Counselor Examination (NCE). Some students will have taken the examination by graduation. Students who have met the requirement will submit scores in sealed envelopes at the time of application.

In other instances, the Arizona Board will provide registration forms after reviewing candidate credentials. Candidates will sign their registration forms in ink and submit them to the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCCC) along with a $200 fee. They will wait for email or postcard confirmation from the NBCC before attempt to schedule computer-based examinations through Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP).

There are three Arizona testing sites: in Glendale, Mesa, and Tucson (http://www.nbcc.org/directory/AZ). Candidates are also permitted to schedule at AMP assessment centers located in other states. Examinations are typically available Monday through Saturday during the first two full weeks of the calendar month. However, some sites do not have Saturday hours.

Recent graduates may be issued temporary licensed to begin working under supervision while waiting to take the examination (http://azbbhe.us/pdfs/Temp%20license.pdf).

The Application Process

Application forms are available on the Board website (http://azbbhe.us/node/25). Applicants will need a general license application and counseling supplement. They are asked to make single-sided copies.

In-state candidates apply first at the associate level. Some steps will need to be carried out in advance.

Applicants will need to have fingerprints made (unless they are in possession of a current fingerprint clearance card). They may initiate the process by requesting fingerprint cards from the Board at 602-542-1882. The fingerprint card is to be accompanied by a $40 processing fee; this is separate from the application fee and is to be written separately.

Applicants will also need to provide evidence of legal residency.

Education is documented at the associate stage. The Arizona Board will require a transcript from all graduate schools attended. These are to be included in the application package in sealed envelopes. Students who did not attend schools with CACREP or CORE accreditation will provide additional coursework documentation. Practicum experiences will be documented by the school and on-site supervisor. Verification will be included in sealed envelopes.

Candidates must do a self-query of the National Practitioner Data Bank. They may visit www.npdb.hrsa.gov or call 800-767-6732. The fee is $8.00; the report takes about two weeks. This, to, should be included in a sealed envelope. The report must be recent. The request must have been made within 90 days.

Arizona requires verification of all professional licenses and certifications held, past or present; the verification form is found in the general application.

The application fee is $250. The application form requires notarization.

The application will go through an administrative review and then a substantive review. Candidates who receive notification that additional documentation is required are expected to submit materials within 60 days; however, they may request up to two extensions.

The Board has provided a list of helpful hints to avoid documentation errors (http://azbbhe.us/pdfs/app%20hints.pdf).

Out-of-State Counselors

Counselors licensed in other states may be issued temporary licensed if they do not have disqualifying legal or disciplinary histories (http://azbbhe.us/pdfs/Temp%20license.pdf). The fee is $50. A counselor with a temporary license must practice under supervision.

Additional Information

The Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners (azbbhe.us) can be reached at 602-542-1882.

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