Connecticut's mental health counselors are licensed as licensed professional counselors by the Department of Public Health. Whether you're planning on earning your degree in Connecticut or you're moving from elsewhere, the application process is very similar. You'll need to show that you've met the requirements for education, examination, and practice under supervision.
The information below will provide a road map for getting licensed in Connecticut. However, if you have any questions along the way, contact the Connecticut Department of Public Health to ensure you are on the right path.
Counseling Careers in Connecticut
Earning a Connecticut counseling licensure prepares you for an array of career opportunities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that counselor employment will grow faster than other occupations over the next decade, making this an exciting career for those who meet counseling requirements in Connecticut. For example, the BLS projects that, due to increased enrollment in schools, employment for elementary and secondary school counselors is expected to increase 13% by 2026. Colleges and universities also need school counselors to meet student needs.
Additionally, as more healthcare companies incorporate integrated care, demand has increased for marriage and family therapists. The BLS also projects the fields of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors to grow as more states seek treatment and counseling services for drug offenders.
- Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors: These counselors evaluate student abilities and interests, collaborate with other educational professionals and parents, and help students develop their social and academic skills.
- Marriage and Family Therapists: Using various techniques and tools, marriage and family therapists help clients adjust to difficult challenges. Marriage and family therapists also complete and maintain records, refer clients to other resources, and encourage clients to communicate with each other.
- Rehabilitation Counselors: Rehabilitation counselors provide individual and group counseling to help clients adjust to their disabilities. These counselors may also develop a treatment plan for clients, locate resources, and advocate for people with disabilities.
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: Sometimes called addiction counselors, substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors provide treatment and support to people who suffer from alcoholism, eating disorders, and other mental or behavioral problems.
- Counselors, All Other: With an emphasis on prevention, other types of counselors may help individuals deal with family issues, stress management, or addictions and substance abuse. Counselors may work with groups or individuals.
|Occupation||Average Salary in Connecticut|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||$64,910|
|Counselors, All Other||$51,000|
Connecticut's education requirements are broadly defined and allow professionals in some related helping professions to be licensed as professional counselors. The American Art Therapy Association, for example, reports that Connecticut art therapists may qualify for licensure as professional counselors. AATA further reports that many art therapy programs are working to align their standards with the existing standards in place for professional counselors.
Education Requirements for Counselors
Prospective counselors must complete a master's or doctoral program in the field, however it is acceptable to have your master's in a related field if you meet coursework requirements. Related fields include marriage and family therapy, psychology, and social work; other mental health programs may be accepted as well.
You must have a total of 60 units in counseling that cover the following content areas:
- Social/Cultural Foundations
- Human Growth and Development
- Helping Relationships or Counseling Theories/Techniques
- Group Dynamics
- Career and Lifestyle
- Tests and Measurements or Appraisals
- Research and Evaluation
- Processing and Counseling
- Professional Orientation
Coursework must be completed at regionally accredited school(s). The following accrediting agencies are accepted:
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC-CIHE)
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA-HLC)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges (Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges or Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities)
The Connecticut Counseling Association reports that three Connecticut institutions have counseling programs that have been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
Online Counseling Programs in Connecticut
Several online counseling programs are available near Connecticut for distance learners to meet counselor requirements. In nearby Massachusetts, degree candidates may pursue an online master's degree in mental health, school, or rehabilitation counseling at the University of Massachusetts. This university also offers online bachelor's degrees in psychology and human services, and online certificate programs in addiction counselor education. Residents in Connecticut can also pursue an online degree in counseling at New York University, which offers two concentrations: mental health and school counseling.
Pursuing an online degree in counseling offers candidates many benefits over a traditional on-campus program. With an online degree, students can complete counselor requirements from any location and usually at anytime. This provides you the flexibility to maintain career and/or family obligations. Additionally, distance learners save money with an online counseling program. By completing coursework online, students avoid paying for transportation and parking fees, and may even receive in-state tuition regardless of residency.
Some counseling programs also arrange internships and field placements for students. However, requirements for a counseling license vary by state, so students should confirm Connecticut's requirements to work in the state.
How Do You Become a Counselor in Connecticut?
The first step to becoming a counselor in Connecticut is to complete an application form and have it notarized. You then send it to the state board along with a $315 fee.
It should be noted that all supporting documents for your application are sent straight to the board by the source.
Each of your schools must send official transcripts and complete verification forms. The verification form will attest to you having met credit hour requirements and completed coursework in the required areas. You can view the form to see a detailed description of the material to be covered in each content area.
Your supervisor verifies that you have met requirements for supervised practice, and you complete the top portion before giving it to your supervisor. The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), meanwhile, sends your score report.
Applicants must pay an initial application fee for a Connecticut counseling licensure. The initial fee remains the same for all counselor types in the state -- including a licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC) -- and covers the cost of eligibility determination and related administrative functions. A prospective counselor must pay the non-refundable and non-transferable initial fee when submitting the application.
Licensed counselors also pay a renewal fee annually during the licensee's month of birth. The first renewal fees begins in the first birth month immediately following the issuance of licensure. The following table shows the required fees for a Connecticut counseling licensure.
|Initial Application Fee||$315|
|Renewal Application Fee||$195|
|Reinstatement Application Fee||$315|
The Licensing Exam
To gain licensure, you must pass a licensing exam. You can choose to take the national counselor examination or the national clinical mental health counseling examination, both of which are administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. The exams are usually given in Hartford in January, April, July, and October. The deadline for receipt of materials is approximately six weeks prior to your testing date. The NBCC notes that deadlines are strictly enforced.
You can download registration forms from the NBCC website. You send the form, signed, along with a $145 fee. You must also include a sealed copy of your graduate transcript, which should demonstrate that you have a master's degree in counseling or a related field, and include the conferral date. Test scores are sent directly to the Connecticut board by the NBCC. Approximately two weeks before the test date, you'll receive an admission ticket.
LPC Supervised Practice Requirement
Before you can be licensed as a professional counselor in Connecticut, you will need to complete 3,000 hours of supervised practice. Some states require counselors to work under an associate license while accumulating hours toward professional licensure. However in Connecticut, this is not the case.
You must spend at least a year meeting your experience requirements, and must have at least 100 hours of direct supervision.
Your supervisor may be a professional counselor, social worker, marriage and family therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or advanced practice nurse. If they are a psychiatrist, they must be certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. If your supervisor is an advanced practice nurse, they must be certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a specialist in adult psychiatric and mental health. All supervisors are expected to be licensed, with one exception: if you were supervised by a professional counselor before October 1, 1998, your supervisor should have met licensing requirements, but not necessarily hold licensure.
You can find a list of potential intern positions on the CCA website.
Out of State Candidates - LPC Requirements
If you've held a license in another state or municipality, you must send a verification form. Click here to download the form. You should check with the state where you hold licensure to find out what fees may be assessed for verification.
Connecticut features several in-state post-master's programs to help students who completed graduate programs in the past, but who do not meet the standards currently in place in Connecticut. One option is to complete a sixth year certificate.
License Maintenance and Renewal
Associate licensed counselors (ALC) must renew their license every year, while licensed professional counselors renew every two years. In addition to fees, you submit evidence of continuing education. LPCs are expected to complete 40 formal contact hours every two years, and all counselors are expected to keep documentation for three years after the renewal period. In 2012, the board began requiring a mandatory audit of 10% of randomly-selected LPCs.
Generally speaking, continuing education activities must be approved by the NBCC or the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification. If another state has approved the activity, you will need a statement from the board. You may be able to get credit for other events if you submit content outlines, presenter qualifications, and clock hours to the board for approval beforehand.
Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Connecticut
Licensed counselors are mandated to complete continuing education during each renewal period. There are a few exceptions, however: you're not required to do continuing education during your first license period; you may receive a waiver if you're not actively practicing; and you can also apply for a waiver or extension in the case of illness or disability.
Generally, counselors are expected to complete 15 hours of continuing education each year. You must keep records of continuing education for three years.
- At Health: Founded in 1997, At Health offers continuing education for counselors in Connecticut. Approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education, At Health helps professionals become a licensed counselor in Connecticut and also earn continuing education credits online. Course topics include suicide assessment and intervention, immigration and culture, and veteran mental health issues.
- PESI Inc.: Approved as a provider of continuing education by the Connecticut Certification Board, PESI offers continuing education opportunities for Connecticut addiction counselors. PESI also provides counselors the chance to complete continuing education through live seminars, online courses, live video webcasts, and retreats. Learners may also try a free online continuing education seminar on the PESI website.
- University of Connecticut School of Social Work: Approved by the Connecticut Department of Public Health, the University of Connecticut School of Social Work offers continuing education credits for social workers, professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, and psychologists. The continuing education programs meet at the downtown Hartford campus at various dates. Some programs sell out in advance.
Resources for Counselors
- Mental Health Connecticut: Founded in 1908, this statewide organization works to improve mental health for all Connecticut residents through advocacy, education, and service. Mental Health Connecticut also promotes recovery for people with mental health conditions.
- Connecticut Clearinghouse: This website serves as a statewide library and resource center, and provides information to Connecticut residents about treatment and recovery, substance use and mental health disorders, prevention, and other related topics.
- Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services: A state health care agency, the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services promotes overall health and wellness of Connecticut residents with behavioral health needs through an integrated network.
- Resources to Recover: Resources to Recover offers support, guidance, and information on best practices and locating providers for recovery-oriented mental health care. This website, specifically designed for families, provides resources for early intervention.
- Connecticut's Network of Care for Behavioral Health: A resource for individuals, families, and agencies concerned with mental health, this website provides information about mental health services, laws, and related issues. The website also offers a search engine for mental health services.
Professional Organizations for Counselors
- American Counseling Association: Founded in 1952, the ACA's mission is to grow and enhance the counseling profession. Serving as the world's largest association exclusively representing professional counselors in various practice settings, this professional association provides members with complimentary subscriptions to professional publications, free and discounted continuing education opportunities, and discounts on professional liability insurance.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Connecticut: A grassroots organization, NAMI Connecticut provides education, support, and advocacy for all Connecticut residents affected by mental illness. NAMI Connecticut offers three different types of membership: household, individual, and open door (a discounted individual membership). Membership benefits include convention registration discounts, access to an online member community, and professional publications.
- Connecticut Mental Health Counselors Association: A division of the Connecticut Counseling Association and branch of the American Mental Health Counselors Association, CMHCA represents professional mental health counselors and students. The CMHCA provides several member benefits, including discounted attendance at an annual professional development day, networking and leadership opportunities, and current information about Connecticut counseling legislation.