Becoming a Counselor in Texas
What does it take to become a counselor? People-savvy, emotional maturity -- and quite a bit of education. Here are some tips for you if you are considering the profession.
CACREP Accredited Online Master's in Counseling Programs:
If you are a High School Student or Graduate in Texas
You'll want to do some research early. In Texas, the school counseling profession is for individuals with a teaching background. The Texas Code requires two years classroom experience before a standard certificate can be issued in counseling.
With a professional counseling license, you can counsel individuals of all ages outside a school setting.
Exploration is a part of the process. You can volunteer if you’re not ready for paid employment. There are a lot of location-based resources to help you. The Volunteer Center of North Texas lets you create an account and search for just the right position. Some cities also list volunteer opportunities on their official site.
Guidance counseling in your future? Breakthough Austin is an organization for (future) first generation college students. The organization utilizes volunteers in a variety of capacities. You can serve as an academic coach or homework resource or assist students with their application essays.
Earn solid grades as an undergraduate. More recent coursework is often given more weight. Your counseling graduate program, might, for example, set a minimum of 2.8 overall or 3.0 on the last 60 units of undergraduate coursework. Read up on selecting an undergraduate counseling major here.
A bachelor's degree in Psychology is common preparation for graduate school in the field of counseling.
If you already have an Undergraduate Degree
Request materials early. Admission to the counseling department is often a separate step than graduate school admission. You are typically asked to submit professional or academic references. Step 5: To become a professional counselor, enroll in a master’s program that includes coursework in all areas required by the Texas Board. It must be at least 48 semester hours. There must be at least 300 clock hours of practicum.
Accreditation through the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is not a state mandate, but you can expect a CACREP-accredited program to meet or exceed standards set by the Board. CACREP-accredited programs in some disciplines (mental health, addictions) are 60 semester hours (or transitioning to 60 semester hours). Programs in some other disciplines like college counseling are 48. You can expect at least 700 hours of practicum and internship.
You will take a licensing exam, the National Counselor Examination, as your program draws to a close. You will also need to take a jurisprudence exam.
At this stage, you will apply for a temporary license that will allow you to complete training requirements. You will make arrangements for clinical supervision. You will need to complete a 3,000 clock hour post-graduate internship. You will need to spend at least 18 months working under supervision to attain full licensure. You have up to 60 months to complete your supervised training if you require it.
While classified as an LPC Intern, you will be drawing a paycheck as a counselor, but you can't be in private practice. In fact, you will need to submit a new supervisor agreement any time you will be working at a new facility or changing supervisors.
If you have a Teaching Degree
Guidance counseling is a viable option if you have a degree in education. If you already have a master’s, a second one won't be required. Your program could be a little shorter.
If you have a teaching baccalaureate, you can opt for guidance counseling only or for a master’s program that simultaneously prepares you for professional counseling. You will need at least a few additional courses to complete the educational requirements for LPC.