Becoming a Counselor in Nebraska
So you want to be a counselor! Do you know which kind? In Nebraska, as in other states, counselors have different credentials -- and different credentialing agencies -- depending on whether they work in clinical or school settings.
Some of Nebraska’s titles are more complicated than those used in other states, but the process is very similar. You are licensed first and foremost as a mental health practitioner or an independent mental health practitioner. This determines your level of practice and can be important for reimbursement -- after all, people are often not paying for health services out of their own pockets.
You may have the same basic license as a practitioner from another mental health discipline. You will have some extra initials, though, to show the public that your training is in counseling and not social work or family therapy. (You will be an LMHP-PC or LIMHP-PC.)
CACREP Accredited Online Master's in Counseling Programs:
If you are a High School Student or have a diploma/GED in Nebraska:
Your first step is to research the field. In Nebraska, the school counseling endorsement is for individuals with teaching experience. If you want to spend some time in the classroom before moving into counseling, you can select an education major and then enroll in a guidance counseling program at the graduate level.
If you are interested in addiction counseling, you can get licensed with as little as a high school education, but there can be advantages to having a lot more schooling. You’ll have more career opportunities if you combine addiction counseling with mental health study. Higher education will also greatly reduce the amount of experience you need to achieve full licensure. But if you’re happier in an agency than in a classroom, you might want to study addictions at the undergraduate level. You can add the additional credential later.
If you are interested in mental health counseling, select any major at the undergraduate level, but be sure to take some behavioral science courses. Look ahead to see if there are any specific prerequisites.
A bachelor's degree in Psychology is common preparation for graduate school in the field of counseling.
Be aware that programs often accept less than half the students who apply. It's a good idea to maintain a GPA of at least 3.0 and seek counseling related experiences. If you aren’t ready for paid employment, you can look on the site of ServeNebraska for links to volunteer centers. You will also find information about the Americorps service project there.
If you currently hold a Bachelor’s Degree:
Allow plenty of time to get references and write essays.
Make your academic decisions. If you are interested in being an independent mental health practitioner, you will enroll in a program that is CACREP-accredited or equivalent. This accreditation is especially important if you seek the independent designation. Other therapeutic mental health programs may be accepted for the lower license.
There are options to specialize. You can, for instance, complete a degree in mental health counseling and an additional certificate in gerontology.
After completing educational requirements, you will need to work for 3,000 hours under supervision to get your mental health practitioner license. In order to get the higher credential, you will need to put in significant time with individuals with major mental disorders. (You’ll work under provisional licensing while you’re completing requirements.)
Assuming you have a master’s and the required courses and trainings, 2,000 hours of supervised practice will earn you the Licensed Drug and Alcohol Counselor credential. You’ll also take a written exam.
You will need to take either the National Counselor Examination or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination before you can achieve licensure as a mental health practitioner.