Rehabilitation Counselor Requirements in North Carolina: A couple options to become a Rehabilitation Counselor

North Carolina rehabilitation counselors can be licensed as Licensed Professional Counselors, or LPCs. The LPC is a generalist license that can be achieved by counselors with various specialties. It is awarded on the basis of education, examination, and supervised experience; counselors hold Licensed Professional Counselor Associate (LPCA) licensing while fulfilling supervised practice requirements.

North Carolina is among the states that will accept the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) examination for licensing as a professional counselor.

North Carolina counselors must hold state licensing unless they fall under exemption categories described in the Licensed Professional Counselors Act (http://www.ncblpc.org/Laws_and_Codes/NC_GS_Article_24.pdf).

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Education Requirements

Prospective licensees must complete graduate degrees. The number of semester hours required depends on the date of enrollment. Those who enroll on July 1, 2013 or afterward will need to complete 60 semester hour programs. The requirement is 54 semester hours for those who enrolled before this date, but after June 30, 2009.

The student must have coursework in nine Board-identified content areas:

  • Orientation to counseling
  • Counseling theory and technique
  • Human growth and development
  • Social and cultural foundations
  • Career, vocational, and lifestyle development
  • Appraisal
  • Group work
  • Research
  • Practicum/ internship

A description of course content is found in Title 21 of North Carolina Administrative Code (http://www.ncblpc.org/law-and-codes).

Internship and practicum are together to comprise at least 300 hours. The Board will look for at least one discrete course each of practicum and internship; in the case of applicants who enroll July 1, 2015 or later, each is to be represented by a minimum of three semester hours or five quarter hours.

The Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) sets the national standard for rehabilitation programs. Although CORE accreditation is not tied to North Carolina licensure, students who opt for CORE-accredited programs are eligible to take the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor examination sooner.

Some CORE-accredited programs are as short as 48 semester hours. Prospective students can, however, find CORE-accredited programs that are 60 semester hours and license-qualifying in North Carolina. (CORE expects programs that do not include all coursework necessary for licensure in their own state to, at minimum, provide information to students about additional coursework they may take to achieve licensing.)

Examination Requirements: CRC, NCMHCE and NCE

Prospective licensees must take a national examination and a state jurisprudence examination.

Rehabilitation counselors may take the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) exam. This is available through the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC). If the program is CORE-accredited, the student may register before fulfilling all requirements; some rehabilitation counseling programs use the CRC as their comprehensive evaluation. Graduates of CORE-accredited master's programs and rehabilitation counseling doctoral programs can be approved to test on the basis of documentation of having completed a 600-hour CRC-supervised rehabilitation counseling internship. Other counseling and rehabilitation counseling graduates will need to document varying amounts of work experience.

Candidates pay $385 to take the CRC as part of a national certification process. Application materials are available online. There are currently three eight-day testing windows per year. Application materials must be in some months in advance; the CRCC has posted a schedule (http://www.crccertification.com/pages/crc_exam_schedule/83.php).

The Board will also accept the National Counselor Exam (NCE) and the National Mental Health Counseling Exam (NCMHCE), both of which are offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. Registration information for these exams can be found on the 'North Carolina' page of the NBCC website (http://www.nbcc.org/stateboardmap//NC).

The jurisprudence exam tests knowledge of law and ethics; content is drawn from a set of professional briefs which can be found in the forms section of the Board website. LPCAS and LPCs take different versions of the test. The jurisprudence exam is "no fail" but must be completed and submitted with the application. Candidates can access the exam and pay fees online (http://www.ncblpc.org/license-info/jurisprudence-exam).

Experience/Supervision Requirements

The associate will need to accrue at least 3,000 supervised practice hours; at least 2,000 of the experience hours are to be spent in direct counseling. The requirement cannot be met in fewer than 24 months.

Supervision is to be provided by a qualified clinical supervisor. Mental health practitioners approved as supervisors under current regulations have training in supervision. Supervisor and supervisee will enter into a contract; this is provided to the Board.

The associate will need at least 100 hours of supervision, at least 75 of them individual.

Associate counselors are subject to quarterly reports.

The Application Process

Application forms can be found on the Board website (http://www.ncblpc.org/ncblpc-forms). The application may instead be submitted online (http://www.ncblpc.org/license-app).

North Carolina requires fingerprint-based background checks. Fingerprints can be made at a local law enforcement agency. The application includes instructions for filling out the fingerprint card. It also includes a release form. Fingerprint cards and release form are to be included in the application package.

Official transcripts are to be requested and sent straight from the graduate institution.

The Board will also need official test score verification. The ‘forms’ page of the Board website includes a score request form that can be sent to the CRCC.

The applicant must compose a professional disclosure statement. A template is included in the application packet.

The combined background check/ application fee is $238.

The application form requires notarization. A small photograph is to be attached.

Out-of-State Counselors

Experienced out-of-state licensees can apply by endorsement (http://www.ncblpc.org/application-info/reciprocity). A counselor can be considered for endorsement only if he or she has been licensed at least two years.

The endorsement application asks the counselor to document experience that spans at least five years and includes at least 2,500 client contact hours.

The endorsement applicant will need to have passed an acceptable examination. He or she will need a graduate degree; minimum program length will be based on enrollment date. For counselors who enrolled before July 1, 1994, there are no specific academic requirements beyond having earned a master’s degree through a regionally accredited institution (or an equivalent institution).

The current licensing board will complete a verification form; this is included in the endorsement application package.

Additional Information

Licensing information is available from the North Carolina Board of Licensed Professional Counselors (http://www.ncblpc.org). Questions about licensing can be directed to 'LPCinfo at ncblpc.org'. The Board can be reached by telephone at 844-622-3572 or 336-217-6007.

Professional organizations include the North Carolina Rehabilitation Association (http://www.ncrehab.org) and the North Carolina Counseling Association (http://nccounselingassociation.org).

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