Rehabilitation Counselor Requirements in New York: The routes to become a Rehabilitation Counselor in New York

New York's rehabilitation counselors are eligible for licensure as Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHCs). Licensure, though, requires a professional to meet some requirements beyond those typically required of rehabilitation counselors.

Employment in some settings is tied to rehabilitation counseling education or to certification as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. There will be some changes in license exemptions, slated to take effect in 2016 (http://www.op.nysed.gov/surveys/mhpsw/complete_sed_2015_report_agency_statements.pdf).

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Education Requirements for the LMHC Path and CRC Path

New York requires LMHCs to complete 60 semester hour graduate programs that are 1) accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) 2) registered by the New York State Education Department, or 3) judged substantially equivalent; this last category could include programs located outside the United States. Prospective students may search for in-state programs on the site of the New York State Education Department (http://www.nysed.gov/coms/rp090/IRPSL1). Some license-qualifying programs are listed as "rehabilitation counseling in mental health".

Prospective LMHCs who apply on the basis of programs located outside New York will have their educational materials reviewed by the Bureau of Comparative Education; this requirement does not apply to those who completed programs that were accredited according to CACREP 2009 standards, as equivalency has already been established. In some cases, the Bureau may determine that additional education is required. This may or may not necessitate completion of a new degree program; this will depend on whether the degree itself is found to be license qualifying. The licensing agency has prepared a list of frequently asked questions about educational requirements (http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/mhp/mhp-education-faq.htm).

Licensure is dependent on meeting specific coursework requirements and completing a 600-hour internship. If the Bureau of Comparative Education determines that an applicant has a qualifying degree but there are deficiencies, the graduate may be able to begin meeting supervised practice requirements.

Minimal educational standards are slightly different for other types of credential. The New York State Office of Adult Career and Continuing Education Services – Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR) has multiple job classifications; counselors may be hired on the basis of qualifying master's degrees. Some classifications require a candidate to either complete an accredited rehabilitation program or achieve certification eligibility through alternative means.

A graduate degree will be necessary for Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) certification.

The national accrediting agency for rehabilitation counseling is the CACREP/CORE. The CACREP/CORE website allows students to search for CACREP/CORE-accredited programs located around the nation (http://www.cacrep.org/).

A rehabilitation counseling program may hold more than one accreditation or approval; it can, for example, be CORE-accredited and accepted by the New York State Education Department as a license-qualifying mental health program.

Supervised Practice Requirements

Licensure as an LMHC depends on accruing 3,000 hours of experience practicing mental health counseling. The licensing agency defines mental health counseling relatively broadly, including practice related to "adjustment to a disability", among many things. At least 1,500 experience hours must consist of direct client contact.

A graduate who is working toward LMHC requirements in New York will work under a limited permit. Limited practice permits are valid for practice at specific sites; a change in setting or supervisor will necessitate re-issuance. The supervisor will be a professional who is licensed in New York, though the license could be in a discipline other than mental health counseling. The supervisor could, for example, be a nurse practitioner or clinical social worker. Supervisees are directed to give their supervisors a copy of Appendix A: Requirements for Supervised Practice (http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/mhp/mhcapa.htm).

Counselors who are simultaneously vying for CRC credentialing should be aware that some requirements are different. Some candidates will meet the experience component of the certification eligibility criteria through internship alone. However, the CRCC expects supervision by a CRC. Master's level practitioners who have not complete CRC-supervised internships as part of CORE-accredited programs have varying work experience requirements.

Examination Requirements: For LMHC and CRC Pathways

A prospective LMHC will need to pass a licensing examination by the end of his or her supervisory period. The licensing agency mandates the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE), noting that the National Counselor Examination (NCE), a generalist examination offered by the same organization, cannot be accepted.

Examination information is available from the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). The NBCC maintains an information page specific to New York (http://www.nbcc.org/Search/StateBoardDirectory/New%20York). Candidates are directed to obtain state approval before submitting their registration materials and $275 fee. Examinations are computer-delivered and are available two weeks out of the month, though a candidate may need to wait a month for his or her ATT to be issued.

The Certified Rehabilitation Counselor examination, though not adopted for licensure, is instrumental in achieving rehabilitation counseling certification. Currently there are just three examination windows a year, with registration materials due several months in advance. The Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification has posted examination dates and registration deadlines (https://www.crccertification.com/pages/crc_exam_schedule/83.php).

The License Application Process

In order to be licensed, one must complete training in child abuse identification and reporting. The Office of the Professions has provided a list of approved providers, organized by region of the state (http://www.op.nysed.gov/training/caproviders.htm).

An in-state candidate applies for licensure before completing the supervised practice requirement. There is a separate application form for the temporary permit; this can be filed at the same time as the general application or afterward. Applications are available on the website of the New York Office of the Professions (http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/mhp/mhcforms.htm).

Some supplemental forms will need to be completed by third parties. The ‘Certification of Education’ form is to be filled out by a school official. The licensing agency notes that in most cases, a transcript is also required.

The license fee (currently $371) is to be submitted with the application. The limited permit carries an additional $70 fee.

A professional who has practiced at least five of the prior ten years may be eligible for endorsement.

Additional Information

Information about mental health counseling licensure is available from the New York State Office of the Professions (http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/mhp/mhclic.htm). The Mental Health Practitioners Unit can be reached by telephone at 518-474-3817 or by email at ‘opunit5 at nysed.gov’.

Information on vocational rehabilitation counseling is available from the New York State Office of Adult Career and Continuing Education Services – Vocational Rehabilitation (http://www.acces.nysed.gov/contact-us).

Professional associations include the New York State Rehabilitation Association (http://nyrehab.org), the New York Chapter of the International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals (https://connect.rehabpro.org/newyork/home), and the New York Mental Health Counselors Association. The NYMHCA has provided answers to frequently asked questions about the licensing process (http://www.nymhca.org/faqs.html).

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