Rehabilitation Counselor License Requirements in Wisconsin

Wisconsin rehabilitation counselors are licensed as Licensed Professional Counselors. The credential is granted by the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS). Full licensure is dependent on pursuing graduate education, working under supervision, and going through an examination process.

While the LPC is a generic license, there is some integration between the licensing department and the state's vocational rehabilitation program. A counselor-in-training who is serving in vocational rehabilitation may be classified as a vocational rehabilitation counselor-in-training.

Wisconsin is also among a small group of states that accepts a rehabilitation counseling certification examination as a licensing test.

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Rehabilitation Counselor Education Requirements

Education takes place at the graduate level. A prospective LPC must complete a degree in counseling or a degree that is considered equivalent.

Under current regulations, an LPC must have at least 42 semester hours of counseling-related coursework. All programs accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CAPREP) are license qualifying. Programs that are not CACREP- or CORE-accredited may be approved if they meet state standards.

CACREP, who has merged with CORE, is the national accrediting agency for the rehabilitation counseling discipline; the CACREP/CORE directory lists two accredited Wisconsin programs (http://www.cacrep.org/). Nationwide, some programs are beginning to seek accreditation in clinical rehabilitation; this accreditation is offered through CACREP-CORE affiliation.

Prospective counselors should be aware that the requirement will increase from 42 to 60 semester hours effective September 2018. A summary is found in a letter linked from the ‘Professional Counselor Section’ webpage; details are available from the state legislature (http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/code/admin_code/mpsw/14/01). The licensing agency has begun the process of pre-approving programs that meet the more stringent requirements.

Examination Requirements

Prospective Wisconsin LPCs must pass a national examination and a state jurisprudence examination. The training license can be issued, however, without examination.

There are multiple options for national examination. The Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Examination (CRCE) is designed specifically for rehabilitation counselors. Students who complete CORE-accredited rehabilitation counseling programs may take the test either before or after graduation, so long as their program includes the requisite 600-hour internship. Some rehabilitation counseling programs use the CRC as their final examination. The Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) requires that at least 75% of requirements be met by the qualifying date.

Doctoral students who have qualifying internships can be approved as soon as educational requirements have been met. Other professionals, including those who complete non-CORE rehabilitation counseling programs, will have varying work experience requirements. A counseling student who did not specialize in rehabilitation counseling will need to take some coursework in content areas identified by the CRCC (http://www.crccertification.com/pages/eligibility_requirements/69.php).

Candidates will have variable documentation requirements, depending on eligibility pathway. Those who have completed CORE-accredited programs or qualifying doctoral programs will submit internship verification. Those who are currently enrolled in a CORE-accredited program will have their faculty advisor sign a form. Candidates should be prepared to pay a $385 examination and certification fee. There are three application deadlines per year; the exam is currently available in three eight-day windows.

The Wisconsin licensing agency will also accept either of two examinations made available by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). The National Counselor Examination (NCE) is a generalist professional counseling exam while the National Clinical Mental Health Examination (NCMHCE) is a mental health specialty exam. Wisconsin candidates pay $195 for either exam. Examinations are available on a monthly basis. The candidate should allow four weeks for the ATT to be issued; the date is figured from the time the fee clears (http://www.nbcc.org/stateboardmap//WI).

Wisconsin candidates are allowed to self-register for either exam. They may test at any point between the time they apply for their training license and the time when they seek full licensure. An individual who has completed supervised practice but not yet tested may be issued a temporary license. Candidates who apply to the NBCC will provide sealed transcripts showing conferral of a master's degree.

The jurisprudence examination is open-book. However, candidates who fail it will have to pay an additional fee to retake it.

Supervised Practice Requirements

Wisconsin counselors have variable supervised practice requirements, depending on educational level. Counselors at the master's level must work for at least two years and accrue at least 3,000 supervised practice hours (with no fewer than 1,000 hours consisting of direct client contact).

At the doctoral level, the experience requirement is reduced to 1,000 hours. In some cases, a doctoral level counselor may have accrued the required hours by degree conferral.

Supervisors must also meet state standards. Wisconsin will accept supervision by a Level 3 supervisor employed by vocational rehabilitation, provided that the professional is licensed as a professional counselor or has five years of counseling experience. There are multiple other avenues; in-state supervisors note their credentials at the onset of supervision.

Training licenses are issued for four years; the licensing agency may, at its discretion, grant a renewal.

The Application Process

In-state candidates apply at the training level. They do not submit applications, however, until such time as they have been offered a counseling position.

Application materials are available on the DPS website (https://dsps.wi.gov/Pages/Professions/LPC/Default.aspx).

Education is documented at first application. All applicants (with the exception of reciprocity candidates) submit certification forms; these must be signed by a school official. Some applicants will need to supply additional educational documentation to show that they have met requirements.

An applicant pays $75 at the trainee level. He or she may opt to pay the $75 jurisprudence examination fee and $15 national examination contract fee at this time.

Out-of-State Counselors

The licensing agency requires verification from each state of credentialing, past or present.

Counselors who hold equivalent licensing in other states may apply by reciprocity. Reciprocity candidates are directed to provide a copy of the statutes and rules governing licensure in their jurisdiction.

Out-of-state supervision hours can be accepted if the supervisor meets Wisconsin standards.

An individual who has met other requirements but has not passed a qualifying examination may be issued a temporary license, valid for up to nine months.

Additional Information

Licensing information is available from the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (https://dsps.wi.gov/pages/Home.aspx). DSPS can be reached at (608) 266-2112.

Statutes and administrative code are available on the DPS website (https://dsps.wi.gov/Pages/RulesStatutes/MPSW.aspx).

Professional associations include the Wisconsin Rehabilitation Association (http://www.wra-org.org/site), the Wisconsin Counseling Association (http://www.wisconsincounselingassociation.com/), and the Wisconsin Chapter of the International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals (https://connect.rehabpro.org/wisconsin/home).

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