Rehabilitation and Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Requirements in Utah

Utah rehabilitation counselors may hold one or more state or national credentials, depending on their job role and educational background. Some hold national certification in rehabilitation counseling. Some are state licensed specifically for work in vocational rehabilitation. In order to obtain the Licensed Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (LVRC) credential, they must pass the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Examination, the same exam that confers national certification. Utah has a vocational counseling practice act; it allows for certain exemptions such as working under supervision.

Some rehabilitation counselors are licensed as mental health counselors. By meeting some standards beyond those that have traditionally been included as requirements in rehabilitation counseling programs, a professional can achieve licensure as a Clinical Mental Health Counselor. Rehabilitation counselors who choose this route are licensed first as Associate Clinical Mental Health Counselors.

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Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Requirements

National certification as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) is granted by a nongovernmental organization, the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC). The CRC credential is now dependent on earning a master's degree. The degree may be in counseling or rehabilitation counseling but must include content applicable to rehabilitation counseling (http://www.crccertification.com/pages/eligibility_requirements/69.php). The CRCC has also identified a number of non-counseling degrees that can provide the foundation for certification. However, these candidates will need to enroll in programs that include at least 21 semester hours and award a certificate or second degree.

A master's student who completes any other than a rehabilitation counseling program accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) will have to fulfill a work experience requirement. Students who complete CRC-supervised internships of at least 600 hours, through either a CORE-accredited master's program or a doctoral program, do not need to document additional experience. A student in a CORE-accredited program may, in fact, be approved to test before graduations; results will not be released, however, until the student has met educational requirements.

The CRC is administered at Prometric sites. Currently, it is offered three times per year, each examination window having a registration deadline several months in advance (http://www.crccertification.com/pages/crc_exam_schedule/83.php). Candidates will need third party documents to demonstrate eligibility.

Licensed Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Requirements

The Utah Licensed Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (LVRC) credential is also dependent on master’s level education (https://rules.utah.gov/publicat/code/r156/r156-78.htm).

The graduate will submit, at the time of application, official transcripts documenting a degree in a qualifying field. The following degrees are listed as being related to rehabilitation counseling:

  • Social work
  • Guidance and counseling
  • Educational counseling
  • Psychology
  • Counseling psychology
  • Clinical psychology

Educational psychology or special education can be accepted if there is an emphasis on rehabilitation counseling. The licensing agency may, at its discretion, accept other degrees determined to be related to rehabilitation counseling.

A vocational rehabilitation practitioner must work under the supervision of an LVRC for at least two years and accrue no fewer than 4,000 hours of disability-related work experience. (The LVRC supervisor will not necessarily be at the site but will maintain regular contact and be available for consultation.)

The prospective LVRC must pass the CRC examination. (This is the same examination that confers initial national certification. However, the rehabilitation counselor must renew periodically to maintain active CRC status.)

A rehabilitation counselor who is licensed in another state may be licensed by endorsement in Utah, provided the requirements were at least on a par with those of Utah. The out-of-state license verification may provide the information necessary to determine that requirements were met. If it does not, the applicant will need to provide additional documentation of qualifications.

Application forms are available from the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, or ‘DOPL’ (http://dopl.utah.gov/licensing/vocation_rehab_counselor.html). The application package includes an experience verification form to be completed by the supervisor(s). There is a nonrefundable $70 application fee.

An applicant who answers “yes” to background screening questions will need to provide additional information.

Clinical Mental Health Counselor and Application Process

To be licensed as a Clinical Mental Health Counselor, an individual must complete a graduate program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or considered equivalent. An equivalent program must be housed in an institution accredited by some agency recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). It must include content in ten Board-mandated areas. There must be 1,000 hours of supervised experience in the form of practicum and/ or internship; at least 400 are to be spent providing mental health therapy.

Some students may complete requirements through a combined mental health/ rehabilitation counseling program.

An extern license may be issued to a graduate who has an acceptable degree but some deficiencies.

The primary rehabilitation counseling accrediting agency, CACREP/CORE, does not require that an accredited program meet licensing requirements in its home state. However, it does expect the program to identify for its students the additional coursework that will be needed to achieve licensure in the state where the program is housed. As of 2015, Utah has one accredited program (http://www.cacrep.org/). It does not include all coursework required for the mental health license, but students have the option of completing additional coursework.

The graduate will first apply for associate status. The associate must work under supervision at least two years.

Utah has approved the following licensing examinations: the National Counselor Examination and the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination. Both are administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).

Registration forms can be downloaded from the ‘Utah’ page of the NBCC website (https://rules.utah.gov/publicat/code/r156/r156-78.htm). The applicant will need to provide the NBCC with a transcript. He or she will wait approximately four weeks for an ATT to be issued. There are monthly examination windows.

Counselors who hold equivalent out-of-state licenses and can document 4,000 hours of active practice with no fewer than 1,000 hours in mental health therapy may be eligible for license by endorsement.

License applications can be downloaded from the DOPL website (http://dopl.utah.gov/licensing/cmhc.html).

DOPL requires official transcripts. Applicants who apply on the basis of programs not accredited by CACREP will need to provide documentation of course content.

The application fee is $85 at the ACMHC level, $120 at the CMHC level.

Additional Information

Information about vocational rehabilitation counselor licensure (http://dopl.utah.gov/licensing/vocation_rehab_counselor.html) and mental health licensure (http://dopl.utah.gov/licensing/cmhc.html) is available from the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing. DOPL can be reached at (801) 530-6628 or (within Utah) at (866) 275-3675.

Professional organizations include the Pacific Region Chapter of the National Rehabilitation Association (http://www.nationalrehab.org/cwt/external/wcpages/chapters/pacific_region.aspx) and the Utah Counseling Association (https://utahcounselingassociation.wordpress.com/).

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