Rehabilitation Counselor Requirements in Hawaii: What You Need to Become a Rehabilitation Counselor in Hawaii

Hawaii rehabilitation counselors may hold multiple credentials. Some Hawaii rehabilitation counseling positions require a professional to earn certification through a nongovernmental agency. A professional who achieves rehabilitation counseling certification through the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) can be registered with the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations as a Registered Rehabilitation Specialist.

A professional counseling license is not necessarily a requirement to practice rehabilitation counseling in Hawaii; according to current application materials, a rehabilitation counselor does not need a license unless he or she wishes to practice "mental health counseling" or use the professional title. Hawaii rehabilitation counselors can, however, opt to be credentialed as Licensed Mental Health Counselors.

There is some overlap in licensing and certification requirements. The number of graduate semester hours required for a Hawaii LMHC license is the same as what the national rehabilitation counseling accrediting agency mandates that accredited rehabilitation counseling programs include. A graduate degree in rehabilitation counseling may simultaneously meet educational requirements for the counseling license, and coursework can be taken outside the degree, if necessary.

A prospective licensee, though, will face additional requirements after graduation. Licensure depends on completing a supervised practice requirement.

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Rehabilitation Counselor Education Requirements in Hawaii

Certification and licensing are both dependent on completion of a degree at the master's level or higher. In order to be eligible for state licensing as an LMHC, an individual must complete a graduate program of at least 48 semester hours. The following content must be covered:

  • Human growth and development
  • Counseling theory and application
  • Group theory and practice
  • Lifestyle and career development
  • Ethics and professional orientation
  • Human behavioral appraisal
  • Tests and measurements
  • Research and evaluation

A licensee will need practicum internship experience that spans at least two terms. At least three semester hours or four quarter hours should be awarded each term.

CRC certification also requires education at the master's level. There are two ways to qualify for the certification examination without meeting a work experience requirement: The first is to complete a master's degree through a program accredited by the Commission on Rehabilitation Education (CORE). The second is to complete a doctoral degree in counseling or rehabilitation counseling and complete an internship of at least 600 hours that is supervised by a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC). CORE-accredited master's programs typically offer 600 hours of internship. A prospective student can search for accredited programs on the CACREP/CORE website (http://www.cacrep.org/). Hawaii currently has one CACREP/CORE-accredited program; the program is also license qualifying in Hawaii (provided the graduate meets post-graduate licensing requirements).

Examination Requirements: NCE and CRC Exams

Licensure and certification are both dependent on passing nationally administered examinations.

Hawaii has approved the National Counselor Examination (NCE) for LMHC licensing. The NCE is a generalist counseling examination that is used for licensing purposes in many states. It is administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). Hawaii candidates can be approved to take the examination after they submit application materials to Hawaii Professional and Vocational Licensing. They must remit $195 to the NBCC. The examination is offered two weeks out of each month, but candidates will need to wait for the testing agency to confirm eligibility and issue authorization; the NBCC advises them to allow four weeks from the time payment clears. There is currently just one assessment center in Hawaii. However, a candidate can test at any of the more than 400 computerized testing sites in the Pearson VUE network. The NBCC has provided a resource page specifically for Hawaii candidates (http://www.nbcc.org/directory/HI).

Rehabilitation counselor certification is dependent on passing the CRC examination; a content outline can be found in the CRC Certification Guide (http://www.crccertification.com/pages/crc_exam_overview/120.php). The CRC currently has just three annual testing administrations. Students in CORE-accredited programs may be approved to test before all educational requirements have been met. The CRC examination is available at Prometric assessment centers; Prometric also has a large national network of testing centers.

Supervision/Experience Requirement

The prospective licensee will need 3,000 hours of post-graduate experience, earned over a period of two to four years. He or she will need 100 hours of supervision. The required supervision hours must be provided by an LMHC or other licensed mental health professional. ‘CRC’ is not a license and is not on the list of acceptable supervisory credentials.

Although there is no rehabilitation counseling work experience requirement for graduates of qualifying CORE-accredited programs, other master’s level practitioners may qualify for CRC certification through work experience. The number of years varies depending on educational background.

The Application Process

License application materials are available on the website of Hawaii Professional and Vocational Licensing (http://cca.hawaii.gov/pvl/programs/mental/application_publication). The applicant will need official transcripts from each school that contributed to his or her graduate program. The licensing agency will, in most cases, require primary source verification of practicum/ internship and supervised post-graduate practice. The applicant will remit a $60 fee; additional fees will be due later for licensing.

Certification candidates will also need to provide documents to validate their qualifications. This may include documentation of practicum and/ or student status. The application itself can be submitted online (http://www.crccertification.com/pages/forms___fees/70.php). Examination eligibility can be denied on the basis of legal status or professional history. However, a conviction is not necessarily disqualifying.

Additional Information

Licensing information is available from Hawaii Vocational Licensing. PVL can be reached at (808) 586-3000. Email can be addressed to 'counselor at dcca.hawaii.gov’.

A thorough discussion of what is and is not allowable without a license is found in HRS 453D (http://cca.hawaii.gov/pvl/programs/mental/statute_rules).

Individuals interested in being registered as Registered Rehabilitation Specialists will be under the jurisdiction of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. They are expected to have knowledge of Title 12, Chapter 14 (http://labor.hawaii.gov/lirab/files/2012/11/VR-Admin-Rules-rev-2-28-2011.pdf).

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