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A State by State Guide to Mental Health Counselor Licensure Requirements

Mental Health Counselor Licensure in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Board of Allied Mental Health and Human Services grants the Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) credential. It is granted on the basis of graduate education, pre- and post-degree supervised practice, and examination.

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Educational Requirements

Candidates must have master's degrees of at least 48 semester hours; they must have at least 60 total graduate semester hours, comprised of counseling and counseling-related coursework (http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/licensee/dpl-boards/mh/regulations/rules-and-regs/262-cmr-200.html#2.05). The Board notes that individuals who completed master's degrees of less than 48 semester hours have multiple options, including completing a graduate certificate such as the Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS).

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The Board requires a minimum of one course in each of the following ten content areas:

  • Human growth and development
  • Counseling theory
  • Helping relationships
  • Identification of psychopathology
  • Special treatment issues (for example, substance abuse, psychopharmacology, marriage and family counseling, special populations)
  • Social/ cultural foundations
  • Group work
  • Appraisal and assessment
  • Professional orientation
  • Research and evaluation

Required courses may be three semester hours or four quarter hours.

Electives can be drawn from a wide variety of topics that support the practice of mental health counseling. Coursework may include mental health policy, consultation skills, and community mental health management as well as additional coursework in special treatment issues. Curriculum options are summarized in the application materials.

Applicants who completed degrees prior to July 1, 1998 are subject to different requirements. They can be licensed on the basis of master’s degrees that were shorter than 48 semester hours, provided that they have taken additional coursework to bring the total up to 48 semester hours (http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/licensee/dpl-boards/mh/regulations/rules-and-regs/262-cmr-200.html). They must document three required courses as well as coursework in six of ten approved elective areas.

The student will need at least 100 hours of practicum and 600 hours of internship. At least 25 hours of supervision must be provided at the practicum level; at least 45 hours must be provided at the internship level. At least 15 internship hours are to consist of individual supervision; at least 15 must take place in a group supervision setting. Site supervisors must be licensed in mental health disciplines. The Board notes that only those who completed degrees before July 1, 1998 may credit post-degree internship.

Post-Master Supervised Practice Requirements

The Massachusetts Board requires the equivalent of two years of full-time post-degree supervised practice. Supervisees may not begin accruing experience until after they have completed 60 semester hours of qualifying coursework. They are not eligible for licensure until they have accrued at least 3,360 total experience hours, with no fewer than 960 direct client contact hours. The Board will credit no more than 250 hours of direct service to groups toward the required 960 hours.

The Board requires prospective mental health counselors to have at least 50 hours of supervision by professionals who hold LMHC or Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC) status. Pre-master's supervision may also be credited toward this minimum.

Clinical supervision is to be provided by an approved supervisor. The supervisor may be an on-site staff member or a contracted professional whose services are guided by a written agreement as delineated in 262 CMR 2.02. Approved supervisors may be mental health counselors or licensed mental health practitioners from other disciplines. The Board will accept supervision by psychiatrists, doctoral level clinical, counseling, and developmental psychologists, as well as master's level marriage and family therapists and independent clinical social workers. It will also accept supervision by licensed professionals with graduate degrees in other related fields (for example, psychiatric nursing, pastoral counseling, educational psychology) provided that they have completed a supervised clinical experience and passed the National Certified Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination. Whatever their discipline, supervisors must have the equivalent of five years of qualifying full-time experience.

The supervisee will need at least one hour of supervision for every 16 client contact hours. A minimum of 130 hours of supervision must be provided at the post-master level; a minimum of 75 supervision hours must be individual.

The supervisee must have an emergency contact on site at all times when the board-approved supervisor is not present. The Board has set standards for emergency contact persons in different work settings. If a counselor trainee is providing school adjustment counseling services in a school setting, the principal, guidance counselor, or educational psychologist could serve as emergency contact. In certain health settings, a psychiatric nurse practitioner would be an acceptable emergency contact.

Examination Requirements

Candidates must pass the National Clinical Mental Health Examination (NCMHCE). Registration materials are available on the Board website and on the "Massachusetts" page of the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) website (http://www.nbcc.org/directory/MA). The Massachusetts Board notes that pre-approval is not necessary. Candidates will submit official transcripts directly to the NBCC.

There is a $200 examination registration fee. Candidates will wait for confirmation from the NBCC before scheduling examinations through AMP. Registration grants a six-month eligibility window.

Examinations are offered on a monthly basis at AMP computerized testing sites around the country. In-state testing sites are located in Cambridge, Framingham, Holyoke, and the greater Boston area.

Candidates may contact the NBCC at 336-217-4111 and AMP at 888-519-9901.

A three month wait time is imposed after a failed examination attempt.

The Application Process

Candidates are advised to read the licensing regulations (http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/licensee/dpl-boards/mh/regulations/). Application materials are available on the Board website (http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/licensee/dpl-boards/mh/forms/). Applicants may also request forms in hard copy from the Board office.

Candidates must obtain professional references from their two most recent supervisors. They will need official sealed transcripts to document education beyond the bachelor's level. They must affix recent two by two photographs to their applications. Applications must be notarized. They must be accompanied by a $117 nonrefundable fee.

The Board notes that it is authorized to access criminal history information as part of the licensing process.

Applicants can expect correspondence approximately four to six weeks after application submission. Those who have met requirements will be asked to remit a licensing fee.

Out-of-State Candidates

Applicants with current or past licensing are required to submit official license verification.

Mental health counselors may submit evidence of Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC) certification in lieu of direct evidence of having met requirements for education, supervised practice, and examination. CCMHC certification is obtained through the NBCC.

Out-of-state supervisors can provide supervision verification to the Massachusetts Board. They must be appropriately credentialed in the state of practice. They must also meet Massachusetts standards for independent practice in their respective disciplines.

Additional Information

The Massachusetts Board of Allied Mental Health and Human Services Professionals (http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/licensee/dpl-boards/mh) can be reached at 617-727-3080.

The Massachusetts Mental Health Counselors Association, a state professional organization, is an additional resource (http://www.mamhca.org). The Massachusetts Board notes that MaMHCA may provide assistance in preparing license applications; a fee is charged for this service (http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/licensee/dpl-boards/mh/faqs.html). MaMHCA can be reached at 508-698-0010.

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