Becoming a Counselor in Arkansas
Becoming a counselor in Arkansas requires graduate level education. School counselors are licensed by the Department of Education. Other counseling professionals are licensed by the Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling.
CACREP Accredited Online Master's in Counseling Programs:
If You are a High School Student or High School Graduate
If you want to become a school guidance counselor in Arkansas, you should consider dingo your undergraduate degree in education. Arkansas counselors start out as teachers. School counseling is an endorsement that is added to an existing teaching certificate.
If you are interested only in counseling (whether with juveniles or adults), you may want to seek a general professional counseling license. You will find yourself with a much wider choice of undergraduate majors. It's often a good idea to choose a major in social services and social sciences, but this isn't a requirement. Learn about the undergraduate preparation here.
An undergraduate degree in Psychology is a common route for students interested in later pursuing graduate studies in counseling.
Do look ahead to see the admission requirements at the schools you are considering. You can expect to submit an essay and references, so you will want to get some experience, paid or volunteer.
If You Have a College Degree Already
You can apply for admission to a mental health counseling program with a degree in any field. Plan to take the GRE or CAT in advance of application. Arkansas schools typically ask for test scores. Your program will need to be 60 semester hours total.
You may want to request materials from a number of schools. You have a broad array of choices. The Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling has core coursework that is required of all professional counselors. Specialty licenses are issued in a number of areas from play therapy to gerontological counseling. Standards are set by national certification agencies.
If you have a teaching degree, you may want to enroll in a school counseling program.
In situations of extreme need, a certified teacher may be allowed to work as a school counselor before actually completing licensing requirements. If you do so, you will need to document that you’re making progress toward licensure. You’ll need to complete the process within three years.
Complete required coursework and internships. You should maintain at least a B average while employed in a professional counseling program.
Take the required examinations. If you are working toward school counseling certification, you will need to take the Practice II: School Guidance and Counseling.
If you are applying for licensure as a professional counselor, you will need to take the National Counselor Examination. This is administered in many locations around the nation.
You will also need to complete an oral examination. This exam is unique to Arkansas.
Credentialing as a Licensed Professional Counselor requires a period of supervised practice. This can take three years of full-time employment. If you enroll in a doctoral program, you can use post-master’s internships to reduce your supervised experience requirement. You may also reduce your supervised experience requirement by taking an additional exam, the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination.
Before beginning employment in a counseling setting, or accruing hours, you will apply for licensure as a Licensed Associate Counselor, or LAC. You will have a criminal background check as part of the licensing process. You will need to submit professional references. You will compose a Statement of Intent, which is like a scope of practice. You will also need to provide evidence that you are a citizen or lawful resident. Learn more about the LPC and LAC requirements in AR here.
Your supervision must meet board requirements and be properly documented. The board will provide you with a list of approved supervisors.