License for Mental Health Counseling
How it works
As I begin my journey in Lafayette, Indiana, I am thrilled and daunted by the process as it begins. Having learned about the history of counseling and the need for definition and roles in the profession to be clearly delineated, I understand that it is for the best that mental health counselors to be properly licensed to national standards. (Newsome and Gladding, 07/2013) Indiana has fallen in line with national standards as outlined by Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs and the American Counseling Association.
Gaining my license in the state of Indiana will be as simple and as complex as following Argosy’s plans for their students in the CMHC masters degree program.
The map for my coursework was easily found. I am now on that journey and plan on finishing my master’s degree in the area of mental health counseling. Indiana does not require that a school be specifically CACREP accredited, but an eligible institution needs to be located in the United Sates and accredited by a group recognized by the Commission on Recognition of Postsecondary Accreditation. This does not mean that it has to be specifically accredited by CACREP for this program, but it does need to be accredited as a postsecondary school in general.
For Indiana, the requirements are that I complete 60 semester hours of graduate course work in counseling that must include a master’s degree. The subjects I am required to study are Human Growth and Development, Social and Cultural Foundations of Counseling, Helping Relationship, Including Counseling Theory and Practice, Group Dynamics, Processes, counseling, and consultation; Lifestyle and Career Development, Assessment and Appraisal of Individuals, Research and Program Evaluation, Professional Orientation and ethics, Foundations of Mental Health Counseling, Contextual Dimensions of Mental Health Counseling, Knowledge and Skills for the Practice of Mental Health Counseling and Psychotherapy, and Clinical Instruction.
These are all courses I will be taking at Argosy University Online. The degree from Argosy University is four and a half years long and if I continue at it without stopping or having a break, I will finish in the fall of 2022. I am not required to do any specific electives.
After I have finished with the class work, Indiana requires that I have a 100 hour practicum and a 600 hour internship with 66 hours of face to face supervision. In order to do the practicum, I can apply for a temporary license to practice with supervision. This requirement may be met by a supervised practice experience that took place away from Argosy but is certified by an official from Argosy. I have the information in the student handbook about when and how it is to happen and have contacted Amanda Nellis for my copy of the Practicum Student and Supervisor handbook, which she has sent.
I have been told that I am to look for places that meet requirements who will supervise me with the help of Dr. Adrienne Baggs. With Purdue University over the river from me and Indianapolis not very far, I should be able to figure out the solution to this step fairly easily.
After all the coursework is done and I have graduated from the program I will be required to take the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination or (NCMHCE) and pass with a grade that the licensing board deems acceptable. The exact grade is not listed on the licensing website. I must complete the exam with a passing grade 180 days after graduation from the university. The exam itself is a set of 10 case scenarios my response to which should demonstrate a broad range and high level of counseling competencies. The test is broken down into 5-8 sections in which different questions are looking for different skill sets.
One section of questions focuses on my ability to gather pertinent clinical information required to be able to make a decision on that information. The other grouping of questions focuses on my ability to use the acquired information to make a sound decision that solves a clinical problem in the client. Practice and education will be the keys to being able to pass this test. It is during this time that my portfolio will be in the stages nearly ready to be a part of my resume. After all the hours are put together and done, I will have a wealth of experience from which to draw.
After the hours of learning, the practicum, internship, and passed exam, I will be given a license to be a licensed clinical mental health counselor in the state of Indiana. In order to retain that license, I need to do 3000 hours of counseling over a 21 month time period. During this time I will need 100 hours of face to face supervision with a LMHC or equivalent. Which puts me finishing all requirements in 2024.
As we know, the art and practice of counseling is continually changing and growing as a practice. (Newsome and Gladding, 2013) The need for keeping up with change is so important, it is required in all states to maintain a license in mental health counseling. Each state is slightly different in what they require. Indiana requires 40 hours of continuing education hours per renewal year. The renewal year is April 1st through March 31st. During that time all continuing education credits must be earned. Courses can be done online, through webinars, seminar weekends, podcasts, and journal entries with opportunity to earn credit.
The American Counseling Association offer a free class once a month to members. As I did a web search, there was an over abundance of opportunities, destination trips that covered the requirements in a week, topics that ranged from new studies, better inclusivity, and improved techniques. There was no end of ways to get the required hours in from free to very expensive. There were so many options, there does not seem to be much of an excuse in not getting the required classes done. In the writing of this paper, I have made the decision to join the ACA now and just have access to their information and support. After I leave school, that is going to be one of the best resources in making sure I do all I can to keep my skills sharp.
In conclusion, this map will be a great guide to making sure that all is done in a timely and orderly way. I have a full understanding of what is required of me and fully hope to stick to this course. The journey that this represents is a journey to my true calling and I am honored and thrilled to be checking off the next item on my list of requirements.