If you practice professional counseling in Delaware, you will be licensed as a licensed professional counselor of mental health (LPCMH). Professional licensure requires education, examination, certification, and supervised practice. You may practice as a licensed associate counselor of mental health (LACMH) while you fulfill experience requirements.
Counseling Careers in Delaware
The counseling field provides a challenging but rewarding career for motivated individuals dedicated to helping people. Counselors assist individuals dealing with a variety of mental, emotional, behavioral, and physical problems. Licensed counselors can choose from a variety of different and exciting counseling careers. The field includes numerous specialities and subfields focusing on specific populations such as children, families, couples, the disabled, and individuals with substance abuse and mental health disorders. A master's degree is one of the first counseling requirements in Delaware. Choose a career based on the population you most want to serve or your desired environment, such as K-12 schools or mental health clinics.
- Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors: These counselors help individuals with behavioral, mental, and emotional issues that affect their educational or vocational situations. This is an ideal role for those who enjoy working with children.
- Marriage and Family Therapists: These professionals usually practice short-term therapy to help families deal with clinical problems such as anxiety, depression, marital issues, and child-parent conflict. They diagnose and treat emotional and mental disorders in the context of a family or marriage.
- Rehabilitation Counselors: These counselors assist people with mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. They diagnose and develop treatment plans for disabled individuals, with the goal of fostering independence.
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: These professionals diagnose and treat individuals who abuse alcohol or drugs, or who exhibit a mental health disorder. They hold special training in co-occurring mental health and substance abuse problems.
- All Other Counselors: This category encompasses all other counselors not included in one of the above categories. These professionals often work in specialized areas with specific populations, such as veterans, sexual assault survivors, or people experiencing homelessness.
|Occupation||Average Salary in Delaware|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||$62,910|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||$51,100|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||$41,510|
|Counselors, All Other||$31,920|
Other Professionals Who Can Be Licensed as Counselors
Professionals in some related fields may be eligible for licensing as professional counselors in Delaware. The American Art Therapy Association reports that Delaware licenses art therapists as professional counselors.
Dance/movement therapists may also be eligible. The National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) recognizes dance and movement therapy as a branch of counseling and offers a specific application for this area. Professionals must be board certified in this specialty. Dance and movement therapists can get the NBCC application form from the American Dance Therapy Association.
Education Requirements for Counselors
Professional certification is necessary for initial licensure unless you are coming from out of state and your credentials have been evaluated by another jurisdiction's board. The first step is to complete a graduate degree which meets the standards of a national certifying agency. If you apply through the NBCC, you must meet the following requirements.
Your degree should include at least 48 hours of graduate credit, with at least two hours each in the following content areas:
- Social and cultural foundations
- Helping relationships
- Human growth and development
- Group work
- Career and lifestyle
- Research and program evaluation
- Professional orientation to counseling
- Your degree must also include six semester hours of field experience
If you get your degree from a CACREP-accredited institution, you may find the licensing process easier, as the NBCC has different standards for those who have completed CACREP-accredited programs.
Online Counseling Programs in Delaware
You may wonder how to become a licensed counselor in Delaware or perhaps how to earn your limited license professional counselor (LLPC) license. Prospective counselors in the state can enroll in a variety of different online counseling programs. Although the state does not host its own online counseling programs, residents can enroll in numerous programs appropriate for Delaware counseling licensure in nearby states. Many of these programs also work for students wondering how to become a therapist in Delaware.
Some online counseling programs to consider include the rehabilitation counseling program at George Washington University, the counseling for mental health and wellness master's at New York University, and the master's in rehabilitation counseling at Rutgers University. The fully online Walden University offers a degree in clinical mental health counseling, with specializations in addiction counseling, career counseling, forensic counseling, trauma and crisis counseling, and military families and culture.
Once you finish your degree, you apply for your counseling license through the Delaware Board of Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Professionals. One of the benefits of enrolling in an online program includes affordability. Many online schools charge in-state and out-of-state residents the same tuition rate. You can also save money on parking, commuting, and on-campus housing costs. Earning your degree online also provides increased flexibility and more control over your schedule. As long as you meet your instructor's deadlines, you can complete your coursework whenever convenient. This increased flexibility gives students the opportunity to attend school while keeping work and family commitments.
How Do You Become a Counselor in Delaware?
Until you have completed the requisite supervision hours, you will be licensed as an LACMH. Your application packet must include a notarized application form and a processing fee. Click here to download the application. The processing fee is currently $182 for both professional and associate counselors.
Include your social security number on the application. If you do not have a number, send a Request for Exemption. You will also need to get your fingerprints done.
Some materials should be sent directly to the board by the agency or institution.
- You should have the school where you completed your master's send official transcripts.
- If you have completed 30 hours of post-master's education, you should have those sent as well.
- You will arrange to have the NBCC (or other certifying agency) send your scores.
- If you have ever been licensed elsewhere, you will need to get verification from the state board(s).
The NBCC awards the national certified counselor (NCC) credential. To be certified, you must show that you passed the national counselor examination (NCE) and submit transcripts.
If you have not graduated from a CACREP-accredited school, you must have 3,000 hours of post-master's supervised experience in order to be certified.
The certifying exam is given twice a year around the nation in April and October. In Delaware, the location is in Dover.
Several versions of the application exist. What you use depends on your program and current status. Forms from the NBCC site can be found by clicking here.
If you're attending a CACREP-accredited program now, you can get an NBCC application from your campus coordinator. You will submit it along with a sealed transcript that shows your degree. If your program was not CACREP-accredited, you must also submit either proof of licensure or a verification of post-master's experience and supervision.
The NBCC recommends that you communicate with them in writing if you have questions or concerns. You may email, fax, or use the postal service. Contact information can be found here.
As part of Delaware's counseling requirements, applicants for licensure must submit processing and other fees to the Board of Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Professionals. The table below outlines some of the required fees, broken down by type of counselor. Delaware counseling licensure requirements state that all types of counselors pay the same processing fee of $236. Other fees you may need to pay over time include fees for license renewal, request for approval of continuing education hours, roster request, license reactivation, and written license verification. You must pay the non-refundable processing fee by check, money order, or credit card before you can receive your license.
|Chemical Dependency Professional||$236|
|Marriage and Family Therapist||$236|
|Associate Marriage and Family Therapist||$236|
|Professional Art Therapist||$236|
|Associate Art Therapist||$236|
|Upgrade from Active Associate to Professional Counselor or Marriage and Family Therapist||$55|
|License Renewal||You find out the fee when you renew|
|Request for Approval of Continuing Education||$40|
|Written License Verification||$35|
The Licensing Exam
The certification process includes examination as well as maintenance of professional ethical standards. Typically, candidates take an exam administered by the NBCC and attain NBCC certification. However, the board allows for other certifying exams to be used as licensing exams if they meet the following requirements:
- The certifying agency must require education at the master's level or higher
- It must be recognized nationally as a certifying body for counseling
- The ethics standards of the certifying agency must be similar to those of the NBCC
LPC Supervised Practice Requirement
You must work under supervision until you have accumulated the necessary practice hours. The number of hours you need depends on your educational level.
If you have 30 semester hours of post-master's coursework, you need to complete 1,600 hours. If you don't have 30 semester hours of post-master's coursework, you need 3,200 hours before you can get your professional license. However, hours don't all have to be done under the direct supervision of your approved supervisor(s). At least 1,600 must be under the direct supervision of an approved supervisor; if you gain additional unsupervised counseling hours, these can be verified by documentation to the board.
The required 1,600 hours must be completed over a period of two to four years. You must have at least 100 hours of face-to-face supervision. At least 60 of the face-to-face hours must be individual (as opposed to group) supervision.
Your approved supervisor may be a mental health counselor, social worker, marriage and family therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. School counselors and school psychologists are not approved as supervisors for mental health counselors.
You must send verification forms directly to the board. Your approved supervisor will send a direct supervision reference. You may also need to send a counseling experience verification-employment or a counseling experience verification-self-employment form.
An associate license is good for two years, and may be renewed once.
Out-of-State Candidates - LPC Requirements
Out-of-state applicants may apply for license by reciprocity. If you are currently licensed and have at least five years of experience in another jurisdiction, you are not required to show that the jurisdiction has licensing requirements that are the same or higher.
If you have fewer years in any jurisdiction, though, you must demonstrate equivalency. Submit the following:
- Verification of licensure
- Notarized statement of prior jurisdictions
- A copy of the state's statutes for licensing of professional counselors
If you don't meet the requirements for licensure by reciprocity, you may still meet the requirements for licensure by certification. If the board determines that educational requirements were substantively equivalent, but experience requirements were not, you may be issued an associate license. You will receive credit for past experience and supervision.
License Maintenance and Renewal
You must renew your license every two years. It expires on even-numbered years.
To maintain your professional counselor of mental health license, you must complete continuing education and maintain your professional certification. You may apply for renewal online at the Division of Professional Regulation site or you may use a paper application. With the renewal application, you attest that you hold certification with the NBCC or other acceptable certifying agency, and that you are in good standing. You also attest that you have met the continuing education requirements. You are expected to complete 40 clock hours of continuing education each renewal period. The continuing education requirement will be prorated for your first renewal.
If you face hardship such as disability or military service, you can request a hardship exception. However, you must make this request before the end of the licensing period. You must send the required licensing fee with your request.
Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Delaware
- Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Training and Development Opportunities: An NBCC-approved continuing education provider, DSAMH offers a variety of continuing education workshops throughout the year. Counselors can register for courses online. Continuing education classes cover topics such as mental health, first aid, suicide prevention, and cognitive behavioral therapy for personality disorders.
- Delaware Guidance Services for Children and Youth, Inc.: DGS delivers numerous NBCC-approved continuing education opportunities. A two-year advanced clinical training program for Delaware therapists is one offering. Counselors learn about relevant current topics in counseling, including family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, suicide assessment and treatment, and evidence-based therapies.
- Wilmington University - Division of Behavioral Science: Counselors can take NBCC-approved counseling courses and workshops for continuing education credit at WU. The school's clinical mental health, and elementary and secondary school counseling programs provide numerous opportunities for professional counselors to continue their education. Practitioners can earn post-master's certificates in mental health counseling, and child and family counseling.
Resources for Counselors
- Delaware Guidance Services: Founded in 1952 with one psychiatrist, DGS provides counseling and therapy services to Delaware children and their families for psychological disorders, behavioral challenges, and substance abuse problems.
- The Mental Health Association in Delaware: MHA promotes mental health wellness for individuals and families, focusing on education, advocacy, and support. It offers support groups, an annual conference, educational materials, newsletters, and suicide prevention assistance.
- Delaware Board of Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Professionals: Counselors can find the rules and regulations for becoming a licensed practitioner in Delaware through the bard. Information available includes a fee schedule for different types of licenses, forms, and supervision guidelines.
- Delaware 2-1-1: The online guide to human services in Delaware, counselors can reference this website to connect patients with other services or to make referrals. Individuals can access resources for housing assistance, substance abuse, legal help, and mental health.
- Therapists in Delaware: Psychology Today maintains a guide to therapists in Delaware, with information about their specialities and contact information. Counselors can pursue networking opportunities or refer patients.
Professional Organizations for Counselors
- Delaware Psychological Association: DPA promotes the state's psychology field and aims to improve the lives of Delaware residents. It offers professional continuing education as well as public educational programs. Membership benefits include discounts for continuing education, networking opportunities, a subscription to its magazine, and free ethics consultations.
- Delaware Association for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors: The Delaware chapter of NAADAC supports professionals dedicated to preventing and treating substance abuse and co-occurring disorders in individuals living in the state. It offers continuing education opportunities along with advocacy and promotion of the profession. Resources include a bookstore, certification program, and magazine. The organization also organizes an annual conference.
- Delaware School Counselor Association: DSCA supports school counselors by offering members educational resources and networking opportunities. Its mission includes promoting excellence in the profession by giving school counselors the tools they need to effectively support students. Membership benefits include free and discounted professional development, access to a school counselor directory, and a professional newsletter.