About 25% of people residing in Idaho live with mental illness, according to a report by Boise State Public Radio. The growing need for mental health services and efforts by the industry to better serve its clients have resulted in more opportunities for Idaho counseling practitioners. Projections Central projects 18.1% growth in Idaho's employment of mental health counselors between 2016 and 2026, with 11.4% growth for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors over that same period.
Students researching how to become a counselor in Idaho find that they must complete certain requirements to obtain licensure. These include educational requirements, supervised patient counseling, and a rigorous exam. Use this guide to evaluate the opportunities available for mental health and licensed professional counselors in this state.
Counseling Careers in Idaho
The counseling field encompasses several areas of specialization. Idaho lawmakers establish the criteria for how to become a counselor in the following fields, mandating specific education, examination, and internship requirements. Consider the clients you hope to serve and the issues you want to assist with when planning your education and career path.
School, Guidance, Vocational, and Educational Counselors
These counselors often work for schools, other educational institutions, and government agencies. They help students or clients identify possible career interests and plan the required education pathways to reach their goals. These professionals may also help connect clients to educational support services, like tutoring, or access financial aid to continue their education.Explore Career Information Explore Idaho School Counselor Certification
Marriage and Family Therapists
These licensed therapists work with individuals, couples, and/or families. They help families cope with changes that may be causing stress or conflict in their relationships. They also develop treatment plans, help clients identify counseling goals, and keep records of counseling sessions. These professionals may work with clients individually or in a group, depending on counseling needs.Explore Career Information
These counselors help clients regain independence following traumatic injury or illness. They may coordinate care with occupational and physical therapists and provide counseling assistance to family members. Some counselors also help connect clients to assistance programs, such as job training. Rehabilitation counselors may specialize in serving veterans or senior citizens.Explore Career Information Explore Idaho Rehabilitation Counselor Certification
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorders Counselor
These counselors specialize in helping individuals overcome addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling, or other disruptive behaviors. They may work with clients to replace damaging behaviors with positive actions and guide families hoping to support a client during recovery. They also help individuals identify any underlying issues that may contribute to addiction, such as untreated mental illness, and refer them to other appropriate counselors.Explore Career Information Explore Idaho Substance Abuse Counselor Certification
Mental Health Counselors
Mental health counselors offer diagnostic services and treatment for a variety of mental illnesses. They may also help clients navigate difficult times in their lives, such as the loss of a parent or divorce. These professionals evaluate and assess clients needs, provide clinical counseling services, and keep notes of counseling sessions and client progress.Explore Career Information
How Much Do Counselors Make in Idaho?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides data on the median salaries for professionals granted counseling licensure in Idaho. Keep in mind, where you live can impact job availability, cost of living, and average wages. The BLS combines wage information for mental health counselors with wage information for substance abuse and behavioral counselors.
Education Requirements for Counselors in Idaho
Education and Coursework
An undergraduate degree in counseling, psychology, sociology, or human services often serves as the first step to becoming a licensed counselor. However, you must also complete a master's degree in counseling to meet state education requirements.
A master's degree often includes about 60 credits. The curriculum typically covers human growth and development, social and cultural foundations, and lifestyle and career development. Students should also understand the goals of professional counseling and professional ethics and legal responsibilities. Programs often provide a foundation in theories and principles of counseling, including assessment and evaluation.
You should only look for counseling programs at a regionally or nationally accredited institution
While many courses offer hands-on learning opportunities, most graduate programs also utilize a capstone internship experience. These advanced graduate practica allow students to use the skills and knowledge they gained during their program to work with patients individually and in group sessions under the supervision of a licensed professional counselor (LPC).
You should only look for counseling programs at a regionally or nationally accredited institution. Attending a program that has earned accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs often meets state curriculum standards, but you should review the curriculum to ensure you will cover all required content knowledge areas.
Practicum and Internship
Once you complete your master's degree in counseling, you must apply to a postgraduate practicum. Idaho requires LPC candidates to complete 1,000 hours of supervised counseling work, with at least 400 hours of direct patient care. LPC candidates must meet with their supervisor for one hour for every 20 hours of counseling service to review progress, discuss challenges, and garner feedback on performance.
Online Counseling Programs in Idaho
Online degrees serve as a great option for students seeking program flexibility. Online courses may require students to log in at certain times during the week, but students can attend class from anywhere in the world. Programs with asynchronous courses allow students to complete coursework at their convenience, as long as they meet certain deadlines. Prospective Idaho counselors who need to maintain their work schedule may prefer distance programs. While most counseling degrees require students to complete internships or other supervised training, students can often complete these counselor requirements locally rather than traveling to campus.
Online degrees serve as a great option for students seeking program flexibility
The University of Idaho offers a hybrid master's in rehabilitation counseling and human services. In this program, students take some courses online, but they must also visit campus. Neighboring states also boast several educational options. For example, Oregon State's Ecampus offers master's degrees in clinical mental health counseling and school counseling — both of these hybrid programs require students to visit the Salem campus twice per term.
Prospective students should always ensure that an online counseling program accepts Idaho students and meets state licensure requirements.
How to Become a Licensed Professional Counselor in Idaho
The Idaho Licensing Board of Professional Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists governs how to become a mental health counselor in the state. The board carefully reviews applications to ensure applicants meet all educational and supervised practice requirements. New graduates earn their counseling license through examination and must pass the National Counselor Exam administered by the National Board of Certified Counselors. The test ensures applicants understand the core knowledge areas of counseling.
Your supervisor during your 1,000-hour supervised practice must submit their recommendation and verify that you completed the required hours. The state charges a $75 nonrefundable application fee.
Out-of-state Counselor Candidates
LPCs from other states may apply for an Idaho license by endorsement if they wish to practice in the state. Their existing license must be active and equivalent to the license being sought in Idaho, with comparable education and supervised practice requirements. Applicants must document at least five years of professional counseling in the past seven years.
Idaho checks professional references to ensure candidates show good moral character and have no disciplinary actions on their record. Idaho charges $75 for the original license. Renewal requires payment of a $100 fee and completion of continuing education courses.
Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal in Idaho
The Idaho counseling board grants an LPC for one year. To renew your license, you must pay the $100 renewal fee and complete 20 hours of continuing education. The state also requires three hours of professional training in ethics. You may choose to audit or enroll in college-level courses, though the counseling board must approve your course.
Seminars, workshops, and conferences may also count toward continuing education requirements, as can participating in leadership positions with state or national counseling organizations, publishing work in professional journals, or consulting on a case. Idaho also accepts online or home study courses from board-approved providers.
Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Idaho
- State Avenue Wellness State Avenue Wellness — in Meridian, Idaho — provides counseling, massage therapy, and nutrition consultations. An approved continuing education provider, this organization offers classes on topics like ethical perspectives and powerful therapy interventions. Counselors can receive a discount by registering for more than one class at a time.
- Idaho Psychological Association IPA seeks to improve Idaho by advancing psychology across the state. The organization provides educational opportunities, including conferences, meetings, workshops, and conventions several times per year in different parts of the state. Continuing education topics include borderline personality disorder, chronic pain, and ethics and risk management.
- At Health Approved by the Idaho Licensing Board of Professional Counselors, At Health offers more than 125 online classes on topics like ADHD, anger management, ethical considerations, and grief. This organization provides online continuing education for mental health professionals, and licensed Idaho counselors can earn up to 10 hours of their required credits through online learning.
Resources and Professional Organizations for Counselors in Idaho
- Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Working to promote the health of all state residents, this department offers mental health information and biennial conferences on topics related to early childhood learning. Mental health professionals may choose a specific conference track for child mental health.
- State of Idaho Bureau of Occupational Licenses This bureau regulates many Idaho professions and licenses professional counselors and clinical counselors. Prospective counselors can read about licensure laws, the application process, and approved continuing education providers.
- Idaho Behavioral Health IBH offers counseling and behavioral health services, including case management, psychological testing, and play therapy. The agency's website also provides links to state resources and training programs.
- Metamorphosis Counseling Center of Idaho In addition to offering family, couples, and individual counseling, this Boise counseling center provides links to online mental health resources related to topics like addiction, depression, and suicide awareness.
- Idaho Counseling Association A branch of the American Counseling Association, this organization works to improve human development and promote the counseling profession in Idaho. Divisions relate to specific counseling areas, such as school counseling, mental health counseling, and marriage and family counseling. The organization sponsors an annual conference and offers different membership levels.
- Idaho Mental Health Counselors Association A division of the Idaho Counseling Association and the American Mental Health Counselors Association, IMHCA serves the needs of mental health counselors. Membership benefits include leadership opportunities, networking events, and professional development. Graduate student members can take advantage of mentoring and scholarship opportunities.
- Idaho School Counselor Association Advocating for school counselors in Idaho, ISCA provides job listings, scholarships, counselor resources, and an annual conference. Members receive access to the ISCA newsletter, professional development events, conversations with association leaders, and special membership rates for students.