Rehabilitation Counselor Requirements in Montana: Two path to becoming a Rehabilitation Counselor in Montana

Montana rehabilitation counselors may hold various credentials, depending on job and career goals. Montana Vocational Rehabilitation considers rehabilitation counselors qualified if they are eligible to take the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Examination or are working toward eligibility.

Rehabilitation counselors may also be licensed as Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors (LCPCs). Counselors are state licensed unless they fall under exemption categories described in statute (http://leg.mt.gov/bills/mca/37/23/37-23-201.htm).

In both cases, a graduate degree is a foundational requirement.

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Certification Requirements: Certified Rehabilitation Counselor

National certification is granted by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor (CRCC). A prospective CRC first meets eligibility requirements, then passes an examination. A CRC holds a degree at at least the master's level.

Students who enroll in a rehabilitation counseling programs accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Counselor Education (CORE) sometimes take the CRC as their comprehensive examination. Students may be authorized to take the examination if they have completed at least 75% of the program by the qualifying date. Graduates of CORE-accredited rehabilitation counseling programs or doctoral level counseling or rehabilitation counseling programs may be authorized to test after verification of completion of a 600-hour CRC-supervised internship.

Graduates of non-CORE programs must accrue work experience to be examination-eligible. The requirement is lower if the degree was in rehabilitation counseling than if it was in another counseling discipline. In order to meet the requirement in the 42 month time frame allowed by the Montana Department of Health and Human Services, counseling students will need to have coursework in areas such as job placement or ‘case management and rehabilitation services ‘ as well as in aspects of disability. Graduates with degrees in other qualifying fields may enroll in advanced graduate programs to meet certification requirements. Vocational Rehabilitation notes that additional education may be required for CRC eligibility categories ‘D’ and ‘R’. The many eligibility routes are described on the CRCC website (http://www.crccertification.com/pages/eligibility_requirements/69.php).

Passing the examination and becoming a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor can result in wage increases through Vocational Rehabilitation. Currently, there are three testing windows per year. Applications can be submitted online, through the CRCC website. There is a $385 certification fee.

LCPC License Requirements: Education and Supervised Practice

Licensure as an LCPC requires a planned program of at least 60 semester hours. It is to be “primarily counseling” The Board can accept graduate programs as short as 45 semester hours if the student takes additional coursework to make up the difference. The student will need to document coursework in the following core counseling areas:

  • Counseling theory
  • Counseling techniques
  • Human growth and development
  • The helping relationship
  • Groups
  • Appraisal
  • Lifestyle and career development
  • Professional orientation
  • Research and evaluation
  • Social and cultural foundations
  • Advanced practicum
  • Supervised experience

The advanced practicum is to be at least 600 hours. Practicum requirements are described in the “License Requirements” section of Subchapter 6 of Board Rule (http://www.mtrules.org/gateway/ChapterHome.asp?Chapter=24%2E219).

A prospective LCPC must accrue at least 3,000 supervised experience hours. At least 1,500 hours must be post-graduate practice; of these, at least 1,000 must in a clinical setting (as defined in Board Rule).

Volunteer work can be credited if done in accordance with supervision requirements. The supervisor must be a licensed mental health professional such as psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, or professional counselor. An applicant is to have at least an hour of supervision for every 20 post-graduate work hours .

A supervisory agreement form is included in the application package.

License Examination Process: NCE for an LCPC

The prospective licensee must pass an examination administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. The National Counselor Examination (NCE) is a generalist counseling examination that is in wide usage. The National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) can also be accepted in Montana. The NBCC requires an eligibility letter as well as the registration form and fee (currently $195).

Examinations are administered via computer at Pearson VUE professional centers. Montana has two testing centers, located in Billings and Helena. However, a candidate may schedule an examination session in another state. A candidate must wait for eligibility confirmation from the NBCC before attempting to schedule; this process may take four weeks. Registration details can be found on the Montana page of the NBCC website (http://www.nbcc.org/stateboardmap//MT).

A Montana candidate may make three examination attempts before additional requirements are imposed.

The License Application Process

Licensing applications can be downloaded from the website of the Montana Board of Social Work Examiners and Professional Counselors (http://bsd.dli.mt.gov/license/bsd_boards/swp_board/board_page.asp).

The applicant should request official transcripts. He or she will also need to fill out an academic summary sheet.

The Board will require three reference letters. These are to come from mental health professionals.

There is a $200 application fee.

LCPC applicants must have fingerprint-based criminal background checks. The fingerprints may be made at a local law enforcement agency. However, an applicant will need materials supplied by the Board; he or she is directed to request a fingerprint packet. The applicant will go to the fingerprinting agency site prepared to have the fingerprint card and release form sealed and mailed. The background check fee is currently listed as $27.25.

Out-of-state counselors are to provide license verification; the Board has supplied a form for this purpose. Although out-of-state licensees are expected to meet comparable standards, the Board may accept alternate documentation of supervised practice. Requirements for out-of-state counselors are described in Subchapter 6 of Board rules (http://www.mtrules.org/gateway/ChapterHome.asp?Chapter=24%2E219).

Additional Information

The Montana Board of Social Work Examiners and Professional Counselors can be reached by email contact form (http://bsd.dli.mt.gov/license/bsd_boards/swp_board/email_form.asp) or by telephone at (406) 841-2203.

Montana Vocational Rehabilitation (http://dphhs.mt.gov/detd/vocrehab) is under the banner of the Department of Health and Human Services. Correspondence can be directed to ‘vrinfo at mt.gov’.

The Montana Association for Rehabilitation (http://www.mtmar.org/) is an additional professional resource.

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