Rehabilitation Counselor Requirements in Florida: Multi-Path Approach to Become a Rehabilitation Counselor in Florida

Florida rehabilitation counselors may take multiple paths into the field. Florida licenses counselors as mental health counselors and includes some requirements that would not be met by an individual following a traditional rehabilitation counseling educational track. However, an individual educated as a rehabilitation counselor can meet them. The Florida Area Health Education Center (AHEC) reports that many Florida rehabilitation counselors do choose to become licensed.

Florida statute exempts from mandatory licensing many counselors who work in various settings solely in an employee capacity. Rehabilitation counselors in these settings may seek voluntary certification in rehabilitation counseling. Some may be hired on the strength of their education.

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Rehabilitation Counselor Education Requirements in Florida

Whether one seeks licensure or certification, education takes place at the graduate level.

Licensure: Florida requires 60 semester hours of coursework for state counseling licensing. Students who attend any other than a CACREP-accredited master's program must have coursework in content areas mandated by the state. The licensing agency can accept master's programs in fields related to mental health counseling if all educational requirements are met. They must also have 1,000 hours of practicum/ internship experiences. However, graduates can be registered as interns with some coursework deficiencies; the student must have had a course in psychopathology. They can also be registered having had fewer than the expected 1,000 university-supervised experience hours; they will make up the deficit while registered. Candidates should be aware that intern application form asks them to document having completed a 60 semester hour program. Some Florida rehabilitation counseling programs do include 60 semester hours of coursework and 1,000 hours of practicum and internship experiences.

Prospective Florida mental health counselors will need to pursue training in additional Board-mandated areas through approved training providers. Topics include laws and rules, HIV, and prevention of medical errors. In some cases, HIV training may be deferred until after LMHC licensure.

Certification: Individuals may receive voluntary Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) certification on the basis of slightly shorter graduate programs. Accreditation by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) can confer advantages. Certification can be achieved by individuals with master's degrees in non-CORE programs or in other fields related to rehabilitation counseling; however, these pathways will require varying amounts of experience.

CORE-accredited programs will include at least 48 semester hours of coursework. Accreditation standards state that if a CORE program does not include all coursework required for counseling licensure in its own state, students must receive guidance in identifying options to supplement it. Core has now merged with CACREP (http://www.cacrep.org/).

Additional Licensing Requirements: Supervised Experience and Examination

To be license eligible, graduates must serve in positions where they can provide psychotherapy. A registered intern will need to work for at least 100 weeks and provide no less than 1,500 hours of psychotherapy. During this time, he or she will need at least 100 hours of supervision. It is permissible to alternate individual and group supervision.

The prospective licensee will need to take the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). This is a requirement only at the professional level. However, an individual may opt to take it before all requirements have been met.

The prospective counselor will register through the National Board for Certified Counselors. The NBCC will require an official transcript and $350 fee. An approved candidate should expect to receive scheduling information within approximately four weeks. The NBCC has provided an information page specific to Florida (http://www.nbcc.org/Exam/InformationForFL). It includes links to the exam handbook as well as the Florida registration form.

The License Application Process

Application materials are available online (http://floridasmentalhealthprofessions.gov/licensing).

The Board requires official transcripts and verification of having met practicum requirements. Graduates of non-CACREP programs will need syllabi or course descriptions. Graduates applying at the intern level must document that they have supervision. Those applying at the LMHC level must submit supervised experience attestation.

In some instances, additional supporting documents will be required. An applicant with addiction or mental health issues that are severe, chronic, or recent will need to provide a status report from a mental health professional. An applicant with a criminal or disciplinary history will need to provide official documents as well as self-explanation.

Individuals applying at the LMHC level pay $205; this includes a $100 nonrefundable application fee and $105 licensing fee. Individuals applying at the intern level pay $150.

Applicants with questions may call (850) 245-4474.

Voluntary CRC Certification

Rehabilitation counselors may pursue voluntary certification from the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC), either in conjunction with licensing or separately. Individuals who complete master's programs accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) may sit for the examination before or after graduation (http://www.crccertification.com/pages/eligibility_requirements/69.php). Those who complete programs not accredited by CORE will need work experience in the rehabilitation field. If the individual has completed a rehabilitation counseling internship supervised by a CRC, the requirement may be as little as 12 months. Some pathways, however, require as many as 60 months.

Certification candidates pay $385. The examination is available during three annual testing windows. Application materials must be in several months in advance.

Out-of-State Rehabilitation Counselors

An out-of-state counselor who has practiced, at minimum, three of the prior five years may apply for license by endorsement. The counselor will still need to have passed the required clinical examination and met minimum academic standards, including possession of a graduate degree and completion of coursework in mandated areas.

Out-of-state counselors who do not meet endorsement requirements may apply for license by examination. The licensing agency can accept results for an NCMHCE examination taken in the past.

An out-of-state counselor who has completed two years of supervised practice but falls short of requirements for Florida licensure may be issued a provisional licensure. Provisional licensure entails a $100 fee; this is in addition to standard application and licensing fees.

Additional Information

Licensing information is available from the Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling (http://floridasmentalhealthprofessions.gov/licensing/licensed-mental-health-counselor). The Customer Contact Center can be reached at (850) 488-0595.

The Florida Rehabilitation Association is an additional professional resource (http://floridarehabilitationassociation.org).

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