Becoming a Counselor in Kentucky
Kentucky licenses mental health counselors, fee-based pastoral counselors, and school counselors. Each has a separate Board; school counselors are licensed by the Department of Education.
Degree tracks are not differentiated until the master's level, so you won't have to make academic decisions early. What you can do is get a solid academic foundation and seek out experiences that will make you a strong candidate.
CACREP Accredited Online Master's in Counseling Programs:
If you are a High School Student or Hold a High School Diploma in Kentucky:
At the undergraduate level, you can enroll in the degree program that most interests you. It's not necessary to have a teaching license or experience to become a school counselor in Kentucky (though it can make it a little quicker to transition from provisional to standard licensing). Learn about counseling and related undergraduate programs here.
A bachelor's degree in Psychology is common preparation for graduate school in the field of counseling.
It can be helpful to seek out career-related activities as an undergraduate. You can volunteer for organization like Mental Health America of Kentucky or Mental Health America of Northern Kentucky. Among the possible volunteer activities is visiting inmates in jail.
If you are considering pastoral counseling, look for opportunities to be active in your church’s ministries.
If you already have a Bachelor’s Degree:
Begin the application process well in advance. You may need to take the GRE or MAT. You can expect to write a personal statement; you’ll be evaluated on the basis of personal attributes and maturity as well as writing ability. Submission of references is a nearly universal requirement.
If you plan on becoming licensed as a professional counselor, you'll need an educational program that includes at least 60 semester hours of coursework.
If you are planning to become a guidance counselor, you will enroll in an approved master’s program. It's likely that it will be a little shorter than a mental health counseling program.
As a prospective pastoral counselor, you can either complete a Master of Divinity or equivalent degree and do additional coursework later or look for a program that combines all elements. You will need to meet Kentucky’s coursework requirements or attain fellowship status through the American Association of Pastoral Counselors.
While in school, you may have the opportunity to participate in a professional organization like the Kentucky Counseling Association or an honor society like Chi Sigma Iota.
There may be additional requirements before you begin your internship. If you're doing a guidance counseling internship, it is likely you will be required to have a criminal background check at this stage.
Once you've met your educational requirements in mental health counseling, you can apply for an associate license. You will work under a supervisory contract that has been approved by the Board.
As a school guidance counseling graduate, you can apply for a provisional license. You will also need some experience before you can get a standard license. You won't, however, be subject to the same supervision requirements that mental health counselors are. You may choose to enroll in additional classes at this stage; you can continue on for an endorsement that will allow you to give individual intelligence tests.
Full licensure as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor requires 4,000 hours of supervised work experience. Licensure as a fee-based pastoral counselor requires at least 1,375.
If you are applying for mental health licensing, you will need to take a licensing exam, the National Counselor Examination (NCE).
To be licensed as a fee-based pastoral counselor, you will need to take the Kentucky Pastoral Counselors Examination.