Rehabilitation Counselor Certification and License Requirements in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania rehabilitation counselors can be licensed as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs). Pennsylvania is among a small group of states that accepts the Rehabilitation Counselor Certification exam for LPC licensure.

LPC education requirements could potentially be met by programs with various emphasis areas and accreditations. Program-level accreditation by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) is not tied to licensure in Pennsylvania, but can hasten the process of earning adjunct national certification as a rehabilitation counselor.

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LPC Path: Rehabilitation Counselor Education Requirements

A prospective professional counselor must complete a graduate degree of at least 48 semester hours and a total program of at least 60 semester hours. A program can be accepted if it is in professional counseling or another closely related field. The program must include the following:

  • Human growth and development
  • Helping relationships
  • Social and cultural foundations
  • Career and lifestyle development
  • Group work
  • Research and program evaluation
  • Appraisal
  • Professional orientation
  • Clinical instruction

Clinical instruction is to include 100 hours of practicum and 600 hours of internship.

Educational requirements are different for individuals who completed their degree programs by June 30, 2009. In this instance, the degree may have been less than 48 semester hours, provided that additional coursework was taken later.

Educational requirements are described in Chapter 49 of Pennsylvania code (http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/049/chapter49/chap49toc.html).

LPC Path: Rehabilitation Counselor Experience Requirements

Licensure is dependent on successfully completing a period of work experience while under supervision. An individual with education below the doctoral level will need 3,000 hours of experience. Experience must be subsequent to earning, at minimum, 48 semester hours. The Board notes that practicum and internship are educational requirements and cannot be simultaneously credited as experience.

The experience may be accrued over a period of two to six years. The Board can credit 500 to 1,800 hours a year.

At least 1,500 of the required 3,000 hours are to consist of direct client contact. Direct client contact can include a variety of services such as assessment and consultation as well as counseling and therapy. The Board notes that the remaining hours are to be related to client duties. Case documentation and advocacy could be credited, but work activities that were considered administrative would not be credited.

At this stage, the practitioner will have a clinical supervisor. He or she will need at least 150 hours of supervision. At least 75 hours must be individual.

A candidate with education at the doctoral level needs a total of 2,400 experience hours. Of these, at least 1,200 are to be post-doctoral.

LPC Path: Rehabilitation Counselor Examination Requirements

Initial licensure is by examination. Pennsylvania has approved a number of licensing examinations designed for counselors with different specialties.

Among them is the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC), an examination that also confers national certification as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, or CRC. In order to be approved to take the examination, a practitioner must meet eligibility requirements set by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC). Some candidates are eligible shortly after they complete their degrees (or even slightly before); others must fulfill a work experience first. A 600-hour internship is adequate experience if it is supervised by a CRC and is part of a qualifying program. At the master's level, the program must be CORE-accredited in order to confer immediate eligibility.

A student who has a qualifying internship and a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling is examination-eligible after one year of experience. If the student’s internship did not meet CRCC requirements, an additional year of experience will be required.

A student with a degree in another discipline of counseling will need a minimum of three years of experience. This assumes the counselor has taken two to three courses in the combined areas of multicultural issues and medical and psychosocial aspects of disability and has also pursued coursework in content areas such as job placement assessment or case management and rehabilitation services.

If the degree is not considered to be counseling but is in another qualifying field, the individual may enroll in a 21 semester hour certificate or degree program to achieve eligibility. The certification guide provides detailed information about eligibility (http://www.crccertification.com/pages/eligibility_requirements/69.php).

The CRCC, unlike the Pennsylvania Board, requires some supervision to be provided by a CRC. In some cases, a professional who meets employment requirements but was not under CRC supervision for the requisite one year may be granted provisional certification.

Application materials are due more than four months before examination. The CRC certification fee is $385.

Among the other LPC examination options are the National Counselor Examination (NCE) and specialty examinations such as the Advanced Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse Counselor Examination (AAODA). The NCE is sometimes taken by counseling students in their last semester. Pennsylvania graduates can register for the NCE directly. Registration forms can be downloaded from the ‘Pennsylvania’ page of the NBCC website (http://www.nbcc.org/stateboardmap//PA). The examination fee is currently listed as $185.

The License Application Process

Applications can be submitted online (http://www.dos.pa.gov/ProfessionalLicensing/BoardsCommissions/Pages/Online-Licensing-Services.aspx#.VYDhrPlVikp).

Transcripts are to be requested and sent directly from the graduate institution.

The licensing agency requires two recommendations (http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/049/chapter49/s49.12.html).

The application fee is currently listed as $25.

Out-of-State Counselors

Pennsylvania regulations allow for licensure by reciprocity or endorsement. License by reciprocity assumes similar requirements have been met. It also assumes that the other state grants a similar privilege to Pennsylvania counselors.

A counselor who has worked at least five of the prior seven years can be licensed by endorsement (http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/049/chapter49/s49.18.html). Endorsement candidates are expected to have 3,000 hours of supervised practice and have qualifying education. However, the supervised practice standards are those of the other state.

Educational requirements vary by degree conferral date.

Additional Information

The Pennsylvania State Board of Social Workers Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors (http://www.dos.pa.gov/ProfessionalLicensing/BoardsCommissions/SocialWorkersMarriageanFamilyTherapistsandProfessionalCounselors) can be reached by telephone at (717) 783-1389 or by email at 'ST-SOCIALWORK at PA.GOV'.

Information changes periodically; interested individuals are advised to check the Board website for updates.

Additional resources include the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Association (http://www.parehab.org/) and the Pennsylvania Counseling Association (http://www.pacounseling.org/aws/PACA/pt/sp/home_page).

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