Chemical Dependency Counselor License Requirements in Texas

Texas substance abuse counselors are licensed by the Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor Program, a part of the Texas Department of State Health Services. They are known as Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselors, or LCDCs.

Texas has a regulatory act, though there are some exemptions to state licensure. Professionals in certain settings, for example, can work under Certified Criminal Justice Addictions Professional certification issued by the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium, a third party certification organization.

A Qualified Credentialed Counselor (QPC) can be an LCDC or a professional who holds any of eight other qualifying licenses. The QPC may be a social worker, professional counselor, or marriage and family therapist. He or she may be an advanced practice nurse with psychiatric/ mental health specialization or a registered nurse who holds certification as a Certified Addictions Registered Nurse (CARN). Most qualifying licenses require education at the graduate level.

Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor, on the other hand, is an option for individuals with degrees at any level from associate’s on. A person may be licensed as a Counselor Intern (CI) before completing his or her academic degree. In-state substance abuse counselors typically begin at the internship level as work experience is required for full licensure.

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Beginning Employment as a Counselor Intern (CI)

In order to qualify at the intern level, a person will need to have 270 hours (or 18 semester hours) of coursework. Requirements are described in Rule §140.406.

Up to 135 hours may be in curricular areas that support chemical dependency counseling careers but do not relate directly; examples include behavioral health, rehabilitative counseling, psychology, sociology, and ethics. There is a separate requirement for 300 hours of practicum. Both the education and practicum are to be pursued through a career college or an accredited institution.

The usual requirements may be waived for an individual who holds a qualifying bachelor’s degree. Qualifying fields include chemical dependency, psychology, and sociology. Other related disciplines may be approved.

CI status is granted for five years. The licensing agency may grant one additional registration period of three years. This is the total time allotted for completing all requirements including academic degree and work experience.

Education and Experience Requirements for Chemical Dependency Licensing

At the LCDC level, too, educational requirements vary, depending on whether a person has a bachelor's degree (or graduate degree) in a qualifying field. An associate’s degree is the minimum requirement. A person who has an associate's degree or other non-qualifying degree will need 135 hours (nine semester hours) of approved coursework that is related to the chemical dependency counseling profession. This is in addition to the 300-hour practicum.

The prospective LCDC will need 4,000 hours of work experience -- the equivalent of two full years. The experience must either take place at an approved training institute or while under supervision by a Certified Clinical Supervisor. The Board has provided a list of approved training institutes.

Background Requirements

A prospective licensee will need to have a fingerprint-based criminal background check. Fingerprints are made electronically through the approved vendor. Not all crimes are disqualifying. An individual who does have a criminal history has the option of having an evaluation and determination before enrollment in an educational program (http://dshs.texas.gov/plc_cheval.shtm). There is a fee for this service.

The Examination Process

A candidate will take the IC&RC Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC) examinations. It includes content in four IC&RC-identified domains:

  • Counseling
  • Screening/ assessment/ engagement
  • Treatment planning/ collaboration/ referral
  • Professional and ethical responsibilities

Examinations are administered by the Texas Certification Board of Addiction Professionals (TCBAP). In order to register for the ADC examination through TCBAP, an applicant will need to document that he or she has been registered as a CI. The examination is administered via computer. Candidate guides can be downloaded from the TCBAC website (http://www.tcbap.org/).

An individual who seeks certification as a Criminal Justice Addiction Professional (CCJP) will also go through TCBAP for testing.

TCBAC offers an advanced reciprocal certification for master’s level addiction counselors. The AADC is reciprocal through the IC&RC.

The License Application Process

Application materials can be downloaded from the DSHS website (http://dshs.texas.gov/lcdc/lcdc_forms.shtm).

An individual applying at the Counselor Intern level will either document high school graduation or GED or provide a college transcript. Practicum and related education can be documented through a transcript or (if the experience was pursued as continuing education through the college or university) through a classroom certificate. An applicant who can provide an official transcript showing a qualifying bachelor’s degree will not be required to provide other academic documentation. The fee at the CI level is $65; this includes the cost of background investigation. The licensing agency will look for a copy of the FAST pass; this is evidence that fingerprints were made. The applicant will attach a small photograph to his or her application.

Renewal Requirements

LCDCs renew their licenses biennially. The amount of continuing education depends on academic level (http://dshs.texas.gov/lcdc/lcdc_ceinfo.shtm).

Additional Information

Information about substance abuse counseling licensure is available from the Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor Program (http://dshs.texas.gov/lcdc/default.shtm). The Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor Program can be reached by email at ‘lcdc at dshs.state.tx.us’ or by telephone at (512) 834-6605.

The Program has provided information about LCDC scope of practice (http://dshs.texas.gov/lcdc/lcdc_scope.shtm). Individuals who pursue graduate programs in addiction counseling or related counseling fields may qualify for licensure as professional counselors (http://www.dshs.texas.gov/counselor/lpc_apply.shtm); this will allow a broader scope of practice.

The Texas Certification Board of Addiction Professionals can provide information about examination and about additional voluntary credentials (http://www.tcbap.org/).

The Texas Association of Addiction Professionals is a state professional association (http://www.taap.org/). TAAP is the state affiliate of the national association NAADAC.

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