Mental Health America ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia for the availability of mental health resources. In 2019, Arkansas ranked 36th on this list, which indicates a high demand for mental health professionals. Compassionate people who want to address the shortage of mental health professionals in the Natural State can learn how to become a counselor in Arkansas.
This guide covers important information about Arkansas counseling, including various types of counseling jobs, education and experience requirements for licensure, and postgraduate training for counselors.
Counseling Careers in Arkansas
Counselors in Arkansas work in different settings depending on the types of services they provide. For example, counselors helping patients who struggle with addiction may work in hospitals or rehabilitation centers. The information below includes descriptions of different types of counselors and resources for learning more.
School, Guidance, Vocational, and Educational Counselors
These counselors help couples, families, and individuals cope with relationship and familial challenges, such as divorce. Marriage and family therapists help individuals develop coping mechanisms and overcome dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors.Explore Career Information Explore Arkansas School Counselor Certification
Marriage and Family Therapists
These counselors help couples, families, and individuals cope with relationship and familial challenges, such as divorce. Marriage and family therapists help individuals develop coping mechanisms and overcome dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors.Explore Career Information
These counselors help individuals with physical, developmental, mental, and emotional challenges to live and work independently. Rehabilitation counselors may work with people individually or in group settings.Explore Career Information Explore Arkansas Rehabilitation Counselor Certification
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorders Counselor
These practitioners support individuals with addictions, behavioral issues, and mental health challenges. Substance abuse and behavioral disorders counselors design appropriate treatment plans and work with families on how to support their loved one's recovery.Explore Career Information Explore Arkansas Substance Abuse Counselor Certification
Mental Health Counselors
Mental health counselors may treat all types of patients or specialize in treating specific populations. For example, some mental health counselors specialize in LGBTQ issues, pediatric mental health, or trauma-informed counseling.Explore Career Information
How Much Do Counselors Make in Arkansas?
The following table details the salary range for several types of counselors in Arkansas and the U.S. as a whole, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS combines wages for behavioral disorders, substance abuse, and mental health counselors.
Education Requirements for Counselors in Arkansas
Education and Coursework
The Arkansas counselor board offers two associate-level licenses that allow graduates to complete supervision hours and two licenses that enable professionals to practice independently. Candidates for the licensed associate counselor (LAC) can eventually earn licensed professional counselor (LPC) credentials, while licensed associate marriage and family therapists (LAMFTs) can earn licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) licensure.
Candidates for LPC and LMFT certification must earn a master's degree in counseling with at least 60 credits
Candidates for both types of licenses must earn a master's degree in counseling with at least 60 credits. LPC applicants need at least three credits in each of the following subject areas: personal identity; social and cultural identity; human growth and development; career development; helping relations; assessment; group work; abnormal psychology, DSM, and psychopathology; research and program evaluation; psychopharmacology; and family and relationship.
LMFT candidates must attend programs that follow the standards put forth by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education. These programs must include courses in the following subjects: foundations of relational/systemic practice, theories, and models; clinical treatment with individuals, couples, and families; diverse, multicultural, and underserved communities; research and evaluation; professional identity; biopsychosocial health and development across the lifespan; systemic/relational assessment,mental health diagnosis, and treatment; contemporary issues; community intersections; and psychopharmacology.
Practicum and Internship
Both LMFT and LPC candidates must complete practicums and internships during their graduate studies. Eligible LMFT programs must include 500 hours of supervised practice, 40% of which must relate to family and relationship therapy. LPC applicants must complete 100 practicum hours with supervision and 600 internship hours.
Online Counseling Programs in Arkansas
Arkansas offers several online programs that prepare students for a counseling career. For example, the University of Central Arkansas offers a bachelor's degree in addiction studies and a master's degree in school counseling, while the University of Arkansas at Little Rock offers an online undergraduate psychology degree. Online degrees offer several benefits, including affordability and flexibility. Online students save money on housing and commuting expenses, and they can often complete coursework at their own pace, making it easier to balance school with work and family obligations.
How to Become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Arkansas
The Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy oversees counseling licensure in the Natural State. The board requires LAC and LMFT candidates to pass respective national exams before applying. Candidates can then take between three and six years to earn 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. Candidates who earn an additional 30 postgraduate credits reduce this requirement to 1,000 hours. Associate counselors and therapists should earn these hours under the supervision of professionals with the same licenses that they seek.
Out of State Counselor Candidates
The Arkansas counselor board offers two options for licensure by endorsement. Candidates who have held full counseling licensure in another state for three years submit many of the same documents as new Arkansas counseling candidates, including transcripts, national exam scores, and passing scores on the Arkansas Jurisprudence Exam. The board then checks the transcripts to ensure that the degrees adhere to the same standards new applicants must meet. Applicants with at least five years of unsupervised experience enjoy fewer requirements. All candidates must complete oral interviews and pass background checks.
Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal in Arkansas
Arkansas LPC and LMFT licenses expire on May 31 of each odd-numbered year. During each two-year term, professionals must earn 24 continuing education credits. Each continuing education credit must represent 10 contact hours in seminars and workshops. Candidates can also earn credits for relevant college courses. Three of these credits must come from ethics courses.
The board randomly selects renewal applicants for continuing education audits, so candidates should keep records of their classes. Alternatively, renewal candidates can retake and pass either the National Counselor Examination or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination during the year before the expiration date.
Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Arkansas
- AtHealth.com Continuing education classes through this organization explore topics in ethics, risk management, suicide assessment, and cultural competence. Arkansas mental health professionals can earn 19 continuing education credits through this online provider.
- NetCE Arkansas counselors may earn continuing education credits through independent home study classes at NetCE. These courses explore subjects like suicide prevention and ethics. Professionals can earn all 24 required continuing education credits through independent study.
- American Mental Health Counselors Association This membership organization helps professionals meet continuing education requirements through home studies on mental health issues, ethics, research, and best practices. Association members receive a discount on studies.
Resources and Professional Organizations for Counselors in Arkansas
- Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling and Marriage & Family Therapy This commission sets licensure rules and regulations in Arkansas. Professionals should visit its website to review the requirements for licensure and renewal and the associated fees.
- National Board of Certified Counselors This nonprofit organization provides information on mental health ethics to ensure counselors demonstrate behavior that aligns with minimum conduct standards. It offers its code of ethics online.
- Arkansas Department of Education This state department offers many resources for school counselors, including online videos, reference materials, and lists of conferences and online trainings.
- CollegeBoard for Counselors This resource provides school counselors with information on online institutes, recognition programs, and various professional learning opportunities. It also features answers to frequently asked questions and downloadable handouts.
- The National Council on Rehabilitation Education This organization shares job opportunities for counselors seeking to work in rehabilitation education. It lists career openings from employers worldwide.
- Arkansas Mental Health Counselors Association This membership organization features information on current legislative policies, continuing education resources, and networking opportunities. It is a state chapter of the American Mental Health Counselors Association.
- Arkansas Counseling Association This association promotes ethical practices, self-care, and the acquisition and application of knowledge. Members enjoy professional development opportunities through conferences, free online trainings, and discounts on seminars and workshops.
- Arkansas School Counselor Association This membership association provides school counselors with knowledge and resources to help students succeed. It offers professional development opportunities and access to timely, relevant information in the field.