Rehabilitation Counselor Requirements in Georgia: The two paths to becoming a Rehabilitation Counselor in Georgia

Georgia rehabilitation counselors may be certified as Certified Rehabilitation Counselors (CRCs) and licensed as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs). The state licensing board, the Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists, has described multiple licensing pathways, one of which is specifically for counselors who are already certified in rehabilitation counseling by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC).

Rehabilitation counseling certification and professional counseling licensure have slightly different sets of education and examination requirements, but both can be met simultaneously. Licensure as an LPC requires a period of supervised experience.

Career goals will determine whether a rehabilitation counselor will need one or both credentials. License exemptions are described in Title 43, Chapter 10A of state law.

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CRC Certification Requirements

The rehabilitation counselor will need to complete a graduate degree. Accreditation by the Commission on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) facilitates the certification process. An individual who does not graduate from a CORE-accredited program will, in most cases, need work experience before he or she can be approved to test. There is one exception: A student who pursues counseling education at the doctoral level may be approved on the basis of a qualifying university-supervised internship experience; CORE accreditation will not be required.

A student who completes a rehabilitation counseling master's through a non-CORE program will need just 12 months of work experience if he or she has completed a qualifying 600-hour internship supervised by a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor; otherwise, the experience requirement will be higher. A student who completes a master’s in counseling (as opposed to rehabilitation counseling) will have a variable experience requirement, depending on program content. According to the certification handbook, some degrees not termed ‘counseling’ may be treated as counseling degrees; clinical social work would be an example.

A student who has both a graduate degree in a qualifying non-counseling major and 36 months of qualifying work experience may be eligible after completion of a 21-semester hour advanced certificate or degree program, provided that the program is offered by a university that also houses a CORE-accredited master's program. (A student who opts for such a program may want to check whether his or her degree is also license-qualifying; current LPC rules state that a degree must be “primarily counseling in content” or be in applied psychology.)

A full list of examination eligibility pathways can be found on the CRCC website (http://www.crccertification.com/pages/eligibility_requirements/69.php).

There are three examination windows a year. A student in a CORE-accredited program may be approved to test before all degree requirements are met. A prospective CRC can download certification paperwork from the “forms and fees” section of the CRCC website (http://www.crccertification.com/pages/forms___fees/70.php); the page also includes a tutorial on the certification process.

LPC Licensing Requirements

The student will begin by earning a master’s degree; the degree may be in rehabilitation counseling or in another counseling field.

Currently the Board requires completion of a master’s degree that is “primarily counseling in content” or is in applied psychology. The degree program must include, in addition to counseling or applied psychology internship, coursework in counseling/ psychotherapy. Additionally, at least six of the following content areas must receive coverage:

  • Human growth and development
  • Appraisal of individuals
  • Counseling skills or advanced psychotherapy
  • Lifestyle and career development
  • Group dynamics and group psychotherapy/ counseling
  • Psychopathology
  • Research and evaluation or research statistics
  • Professional orientation and ethics
  • Multicultural counseling or diversity training

Educational requirements will become more stringent after September 30, 2018. At this time, the Board will require a degree that is either CORE- or CACREP-accredited or is judged equivalent; the degree must include coursework in all nine of the above content areas.

In order to achieve full licensure through the Georgia Board, a rehabilitation counselor must provide services under direction and under the supervision of a CRC or other qualified professional. The current work experience requirement is for two years if the applicant can verify completion of a minimum 300 hours of practicum; it is three years otherwise. Beginning in the fall of 2018, the licensing agency will require 600 hours of practicum of all applicants. Directed experience must be in accordance with Board rule.

Professional licensure also depends on passing a Board-approved examination. Currently, counselors can be licensed on the basis of the National Counselor Examination (NCE), a generalist counseling exam, or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE), a mental health specialty exam. Beginning in the fall of 2017, prospective licensees will need to pass the NCMHCE. Both exams are under the banner of the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). A candidate can be approved to test after submission of a licensing application. The current fee is $195. The NBCC has provided state-specific instructions (http://www.nbcc.org/stateboardmap//GA).

Other application pathways may apply to some candidates; those who hold doctoral degrees that are “primarily counseling” have a lesser directed work experience requirement.

The License Application Process

Applicants are asked to read applicable state rule before submitting materials (http://rules.sos.state.ga.us/GEORGIA_COMPOSITE_BOARD_OF_PROFESSIONAL_COUNSELORS). Application forms can be downloaded from the Board website (http://sos.ga.gov/cgi-bin/plbforms.asp?board=41).

The Board will require official transcripts. The applicant will also need to provide primary source verifications of practicum and directed work experiences (unless the professional who would normally fill out the form is deceased or missing).

The Board will require two references from supervisors or teachers.

The application form requires notarization. Application carries a $100 fee. A professional who wishes to receive a license certificate that can be framed and displayed will need to remit an additional $50.

Out-of-State Counselors

A counselor can be licensed by endorsement if the other state’s requirements are at least substantially equivalent.

Additional Information

Licensure information is available from the Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists (http://sos.ga.gov/index.php/licensing/plb/43). The licensing authority can be reached by telephone at (478) 207-2440, by fax at 866-888-7127, or by email at ‘ExamBoards-Healthcare at sos.state.ga.us’.

There were some changes to state rules in 2015; some additional changes will go into effect in 2018. The Board notes that it may be more efficient to email or fax questions about rule changes than to call.

Additional professional resources include the Georgia Rehabilitation Association (http://www.georgiarehab.org/) and the Licensed Professional Counselors Association of Georgia. The LCPA has provided information about the licensing process (http://www.lpcaga.org/index.php?customernumber=632155717166227&pr=Licensure_Questions&=SID). LCPA members can also request a licensing mentor.

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