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A State by State Guide to Mental Health Counselor Licensure Requirements

Mental Health Counselor Licensure Requirements in Indiana

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Indiana’s Licensed Mental Health Counselors are under the jurisdiction of the Professional Licensing Agency, or PLA. The license is granted on the basis of graduate education, post-graduate supervised practice, and a series of examinations. Recently, Indiana has begun licensing graduates who are in the process of obtaining post-graduate experience; they go by the title Licensed Mental Health Counselor Associate.

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LMHC Educational Requirements

To be a mental health counselor in Indiana, one needs at least 60 graduate semester hours of education (http://www.in.gov/pla/files/IBHHSLB_2012_Edition.pdf). This must include a degree at at least the master's level. The degree itself may be comprised of as few as 48 semester hours and may be in a field related to mental health counseling such as psychology, human services, clinical social work, or a related counseling discipline; the licensing agency will accept any degree program accredited by CACREP or CORE. The degree program must include the following coursework:

  • The helping relationship
  • Social and cultural counseling foundations
  • Human development
  • Individual appraisal and assessment
  • Groups
  • Mental health counseling foundations
  • Mental health counseling contextual dimensions
  • Psychotherapy and mental health counseling knowledge and skills
  • Clinical instruction
  • Career and lifestyle development
  • Professional orientation and ethics
  • Research and program evaluation

The student will need 1,000 hours of combined practicum and internship. It is expected that this will consist of 100 hours of practicum, 600 hours of internship, and 300 hours of advanced internship. However, the total can be made without advanced internship.

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Antioch University offers a new Online MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program that is in the CACREP accreditation process and mirrors their on campus CACREP-accredited program. Specializations in: Substance Abuse and Addictions Counseling (SAAC) and Counseling Military Service Personnel and their Families (MSPF). Click here to request information about Antioch University's program. Antioch is a private, not-for-profit university.

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Over the course of the supervised experience, the student will have at least 100 hours of supervision; an appropriate internship supervisor is a professional who is licensed as a mental health counselor, marriage and family therapist, clinical social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist, or graduate level psychiatric or mental health clinical nurse specialist.

A student who does not have the required number of hours will have to enroll in a university-sponsored internship post-degree. The Board will not allow the substitution of other post-graduate supervised practice. Nor will it credit internship or practicum experiences which primarily involved administering and scoring assessments.

The degree granting institution must hold appropriate accreditation. If located in the United States, it should be regionally accredited. If located in Canada, it should be in good standing with the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.

Examination Requirements

The Indiana Board requires two national examinations and a state jurisprudence examination. The National Counselor Examination (NCE) and the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) are both administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). The NCE is taken when one is in candidacy for licensure at the associate level. The NCMHCE is not taken until after post-graduate supervision requirements have been met. Candidates will apply to the PLA and wait for approval before submitting registration materials to the NBCC. Once approved, they may call AMP at 888-519-9901 to schedule.

The fee is currently $195. Registration and fee payment grants a six month eligibility period. Computerized testing is available on a monthly basis in four Indiana cities: Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Evansville, and Mishawaka. Candidate handbooks can be downloaded from the “Indiana” page of the NBCC website (http://www.nbcc.org/directory/IN).

A candidate who fails an examination attempt is allowed to retest following submission of a re-examination application and applicable fees; the NBCC imposes a three month wait period. After three failed examination attempts, however, an Indiana candidate will need to appear before the board.

A candidate for licensure at either level is also required to take an examination of laws, rules, and practice standards. A candidate who has been approved for examination will receive a copy of the jurisprudence examination in the mail.

Post-Graduate Supervised Experience Requirements

The graduate must accrue another 3,000 hours of supervised experience at the post-master level. The Board requires a minimum of 21 months of supervise postgraduate practice; a candidate may take up to 48 months to complete the requirement.

The associate will need 100 hours of face-to-face supervision over the course of the experience period. Supervision may be provided by a Licensed Mental Health Counselor or a professional with equivalent credentials who is acceptable to the board.

An individual who renews an associate license must demonstrate 20 hours a year of continuing education.

The Application Process

Students who graduate on or after July 1, 2014 are required to apply for licensure at the associate level. They are allowed to accrue only limited hours before; according to Indiana code, a person must take the first available examination in order to credit hours earned before (http://www.in.gov/pla/3444.htm). Students who graduated and began supervised practice before July 2014 have the option of applying for associate licenses. An individual who continues on to doctoral study after receiving a master’s degree also has the option of applying for associate status but is not required to do so.

A candidate must provide an official transcript at first application; transcripts are to be sent directly to the PLA from the issuing institution. Practicum and internship experiences will also need primary source verification.

The applicant will need a professional quality two by three photograph.

The PLA requires verification of all health licenses, past and present.

Application materials can be downloaded from the PLA site (http://www.in.gov/pla/2888.htm). There is a separate link for materials at the associate and professional level. Application carries a $50 fee.

Out-of-State Mental Health Counselors

In order to qualify for endorsement, a counselor must have an active license or certification and three recent years of active practice. An out-of-state mental health counselor who qualifies for endorsement will not have to take or retake the examination provided that an equivalent one has been passed. However, education and experience requirements must still be met.

An out-of-state counselor who is going through the examination process can be issued a temporary permit. There is an additional $25 fee for the permit.

A temporary permit can be renewed only in circumstances where, for good cause, the candidate was unable to take the examination.

Additional Information

Applicants may contact the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency (http://www.pla.in.gov/) by telephone at (317) 234-2064 or by email at pla5 at pla.in.gov.

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