Rehabilitation Counselor Requirements in Maryland: Which path to become a Rehabilitation Counselor works for you?

A Maryland rehabilitation counselor may hold one or more professional credentials, depending on education, career goals, and current employment situation. Some will seek licensure as professional counselors, or LCPCs. This is granted by the State Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists. Those who opt for licensure will first work as graduate counselors, or LGPCs.

Some rehabilitation counselors will need to register as vocational rehabilitation counselors.

National rehabilitation counseling certification is desirable for some positions.

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Education Requirements for those seeking Rehabilitation Counselor status with an LGPC credential

Education is the first step in the licensure process; examination is second. Both are required for licensure at the graduate level.

A prospective licensee will need to earn a master’s degree. The program must include a minimum of 60 semester hours. The counselor will need coursework in specific state-mandated areas:

  • Counseling theory
  • Social and cultural counseling foundations
  • Human growth and development
  • Counseling techniques
  • Lifestyle and career development
  • Group dynamics, processing and counseling
  • Professional, ethical, and legal responsibilities
  • Appraisal
  • Research and evaluation
  • Psychopathology and diagnosis
  • Psychotherapy and treatment
  • Alcohol and drug counseling
  • Marriage and family therapy

The program must include supervised field experience. The experience is to include at least 125 hours of direct counseling.

Courses may go by different names. The Board has provided an educational requirements information sheet that provides some examples. Individuals who are unsure if their education qualifies them for licensure may opt for pre-application credentials evaluation; there is a $25 fee.

The Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) is the national accrediting agency for rehabilitation counseling education. A professional can enter the field without attending a CORE-accredited program. However, it can facilitate the process of achieving third party rehabilitation counselor certification. A CORE-accredited program will not necessarily include all coursework required for professional licensing. However, a student can expect that a CORE-accredited program will, at minimum, provide information about additional coursework that must be taken. Often the coursework can be taken from the same institution, either in conjunction with rehabilitation counseling coursework or afterwards.

Examination Requirements: National Counselor Examination (NCE) and a test of state laws and rules

Professional counseling candidates must take two qualifying examinations: the National Counselor Examination (NCE) and a test of state laws and rules.

The NCE is administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. A candidate will receive application materials from the Maryland Board after application submission. The NBCC will seek eligibility letter and $195 fee as well as registration form. Approved candidates schedule examinations through Pearson VUE. They are available two weeks out of each month. The candidate may, however, need to wait four weeks from fee clearance for issuance of the ATT. The NBCC has provided an information page for Maryland candidates (http://www.nbcc.org/Search/StateBoardDirectory/md).

The state law test administered two times a month at the Board office.

Supervision/Experience Requirement for those seeking the LPC credential for Rehabilitation Counseling

Before a counselor can earn full licensure, he or she much complete a supervised practice requirement.

If the qualifying degree is at the master's level, the graduate counselor will need at least three years total experience, with at least two years subsequent to the granting of the degree.

If the qualifying degree is at the doctoral level, the graduate counselor will need at least two total years of experience, with at least one year subsequent to the granting of the degree.

Each year is to include 1,000 hours of qualifying experience.

Graduate counselors work under supervision. The supervisor is to be a licensed professional who meets experienced requirements. The Board has provided a list of approved supervisors (https://health.maryland.gov/bopc/Pages/index.aspx). A supervisor who is not currently on the list may be approved if he or she meets the requirements of 10.58.12.00 of state regulation; supervision regulations can be accessed from the forms section of the Board website (https://health.maryland.gov/bopc/Pages/index.aspx).

The License Application Process

A prospective licensee will apply after meeting educational requirements.

Application materials can be downloaded from the website of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (https://health.maryland.gov/bopc/Pages/index.aspx).

Transcripts are to be included in sealed envelopes. The applicant will submit a course worksheet, documenting that coursework requirements have been met; in some cases, syllabi or course catalogs will be required to substantiate content.

The application fee $75 at either the LGPC or LCPC level.

The applicant will attach a photograph and have the form notarized.

Out of State Counselors

Out-of-state licensees must verify that their credential is in good standing.

An out-of-state counselor will need some combination of education, examination, and experience. Counselors may, in some cases be licensed on the basis of master's degree programs less than 60 semester hours. All counselors are expected to have coursework in psychopathology and diagnosis, psychotherapy and treatment, and professional, ethical, and legal responsibilities. The Board has provided separate forms for out-of-state counselors (https://health.maryland.gov/bopc/Pages/index.aspx). The instruction sheet outlines experience requirements for different categories.

Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Registration

Some individuals employed in rehabilitation counseling will be required by workers’ compensation statute to register with the Workers’ Compensation Commission as rehabilitation practitioners (http://www.wcc.state.md.us/Voc_Rehab/VR_RegCert_Info.html). 'Practitioner' is a generalist term and may also be applied to other professionals such as nurse case managers or vocational evaluators.

Application forms and reference forms are available from the Workers’ Compensation Commission (http://www.wcc.state.md.us/Voc_Rehab/VR_RegCert_Info.html). The application form requires the candidate to list academic and employment information and answer questions about professional history. There is a $150 registration fee.

Additional Information

Prospective rehabilitation counselors will find a variety of resources include governmental agencies, accredited schools, and professional organizations.

The Board of Professional Counselors can be reached at 410-764-4732. Additional contact information is available online (https://health.maryland.gov/bopc/Pages/index.aspx).

Workers’ Compensation Commission Support Services can be reached at (410) 864-5320 or 'wccsupportserv at wcc.state.md.us'.

The Maryland Rehabilitation Association (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Maryland-Rehabilitation-Association/1659047114328051) and the Maryland Counseling Association (http://www.mdcounseling.org) are additional professional resources).

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