Rehabilitation Counselor License Requirements in Illinois: Steps to Becoming a Rehabilitation Counselor in Illinois

Illinois is one of fourteen states that recognize the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) examination as a license-qualifying examination for professional counselors. Illinois application materials also explicitly state that a degree in rehabilitation counseling is acceptable for meeting educational requirements. The licensing agency further notes that professionals certified as Certified Rehabilitation Counselors (CRCs) by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification are considered to have met educational requirements for counseling licensure, provided that certification was achieved after the qualifying date.

Illinois has two levels of licensure: Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC). A rehabilitation counselor can ultimately achieve the higher license.

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Rehabilitation Counselor/LPC Educational Requirements in Illinois

Education takes place at the master's or doctoral level. The Illinois licensing agency accepts programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE). CORE is the nationally recognized accreditation agency for rehabilitation counseling.

The licensing agency may also accept programs not accredited by CACREP or CORE, but graduates will need to provide additional academic documentation at the time of application. Their programs must meet approval standards described in state administrative code (http://www.ilga.gov/commission/jcar/admincode/068/06801375sections.html). The licensing agency will look for coursework in the following areas:

  • Counseling theory
  • Counseling techniques
  • Human growth and development
  • Appraisal of individuals
  • Group dynamics/ group processing and counseling
  • Research and evaluation
  • Professional, ethical, and legal responsibility
  • Lifestyle and career development
  • Social and cultural foundations
  • Substance abuse
  • Psychopathology
  • Family dynamics
  • Practicum/ internship

A program that does not hold programmatic accreditation will need to be housed in an accredited institution. It must meet some standards not related to course content (for example, requiring one year spent in residence.

The licensing agency will accept programs as short as 48 semester hours; all programs accredited under current CACREP or CORE requirements should meet this standard.

Examination Requirements: CRC Exam

A prospective licensee must pass an approved counseling examination. The Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Examination will meet requirements for Illinois licensure as well as for national certification as a rehabilitation counselor. A candidate will meet eligibility requirements sooner if the program was CORE-accredited and included the expected 600 hour internship. An individual who took a CRC-supervised 600-hour internship as part of a doctoral counseling program is also eligible to test upon program completion, regardless of whether the program held CORE accreditation.

Some students in CORE-accredited programs will take the CRC prior to graduation. The CRC is available in three annual testing windows; applications and eligibility documentation are due nearly five months in advance. Application forms can be downloaded from the CRCC website (http://www.crccertification.com/pages/forms___fees/70.php).

Counselors can also be licensed on the basis of examinations administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors, or NBCC. The National Counselor Examination (NCE) is a generalist examination taken at the LPC level; the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) is a mental health specialty examination taken at the LCPC level. There is a two-step registration process that includes payment of both $195 and $98 fees. Details about the NCE and NCMHCE registration process can be found on the Illinois page of the NBCC website (http://nbcc.org/directory//IL NBCC). Additional information is available through Continental Testing Service (http://www.continentaltesting.net/EntityProfession.aspx?Entity=2). NBCC examinations are available at Pearson VUE testing centers on a monthly basis.

Supervision/Practice Requirements

A counselor will need two years of supervised practice in order to earn the higher license (http://www.ilga.gov/commission/jcar/admincode/068/068013750B01300R.html). An individual is allowed to credit doctoral level internship toward the requirement; applicants with doctoral degrees need two years of creditable experience, but only one year needs to be post-degree.

Clinical supervision may be provided by a clinical professional counselor or by a clinical social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist.

The licensing agency counts 1680 hours as a year.

Alternate Pathway: CRC Certification

The CRC credential is accepted as evidence of having met education and examination requirements on the level required by Illinois; certificants will still need to provide evidence of supervised experience to earn the higher credential (http://www.ilga.gov/commission/jcar/admincode/068/068013750B01200R.html).

Rehabilitation counselors may achieve certification following a discipline-specific examination process. Examination eligibility can be achieved through multiple pathways. Professionals who did not attend CORE-accredited programs and did not complete qualifying internships at the doctoral level may be eligible if they have worked as rehabilitation counselors. An individual who earned a rehabilitation counseling master's through a program not accredited by CORE may be eligible with as little as 12 months of qualifying work experience. Individuals with master’s degrees in counseling (or other closely related fields) will need at least 36 months of creditable experience; they will need coursework in specific areas mandated by the CRCC (http://www.crccertification.com/pages/eligibility_requirements/69.php).

The Application Process

Applicants will find license applications and instructions on the “professional counselors” page of the Department of Financial & Professional Regulation website (https://www.idfpr.com/Renewals/defaultSSL.asp).

Education can be documented through a Certification of Education (ED) form.

Experience is documented at the LCPC level. Individuals applying for licensure based on certification of the CRC examination will document experience using a VE-LPC form.

Application at the LPC or LCPC level carries a $150 fee.

Applicants who need assistance may call 1-800-560-6420.

Out-of-State Counselors

License applicants must provide verification from the state where they were originally licensed and the state where they currently practice (or where they practiced in the recent past); they will use the Certification of Licensure (CT) form found in the application package.

Additional Information

Licensing information is available from the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (https://www.idfpr.com/profs/ProfCounselor.asp). Counseling rules are found in Title 68 (http://www.ilga.gov/commission/jcar/admincode/068/06801375sections.html). Interested individuals may use the email contact form on the "professional counselor" home page to address their questions.

Illinois professional organizations include the following:

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