Counseling Licensure Requirements in Kentucky

According to the nonprofit organization Mental Health America, about 707,000 adults in Kentucky suffered from mental illness in 2018, which accounts for approximately 21% of the adult population. Furthermore, about 29% of high school students in the state experience mental illness, and Kentucky has one of the highest opioid prescription rates in the country.

Individuals who want to be a part of solving these crises can become counselors in Kentucky. This resource offers essential information for counseling candidates, such as the types of Kentucky counseling jobs available, salary expectations, education requirements, and continuing education needs.

Counseling Careers in Kentucky

Earning a Kentucky counseling license can prepare professionals to work in several different settings, including private practice, hospitals, nonprofits, and schools. Counselors often specialize in areas of the profession, such as the types of clients they see or the illnesses they treat. Read on for more information on the types of counseling positions and resources available.

How Much Do Counselors Make in Kentucky?

Salaries vary based on factors such as location, years of experience, and type of counseling specialty. The chart below details the salary ranges for several counseling jobs both in the United States and in Kentucky. This data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which combines salary information for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors.

Education Requirements for Counselors in Kentucky

Education and Coursework

Kentucky counseling professionals must hold one of four licenses to practice in the state: marriage and family therapist (MFT), marriage and family therapy associate (MFTA), licensed professional counselor (LPC), or licensed professional counselor associate (LPCA). To qualify for the MFT or MFTA credentials, candidates must earn a master's or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy from institutions with regional accreditation. The curricula should include courses in psychopathology and use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

School counseling candidates must earn a master's degree from an approved list of schools

LPC and LPCA candidates must hold master's or doctoral degrees in counseling from programs regionally accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

Candidates should possess at least 60 graduate credits in courses that cover nine content areas: the helping relationship with a focus on counseling; human growth and development; lifestyle and career development; group dynamics, process, counseling, and consulting; assessment, appraisal, and testing of individuals; social and cultural foundations; principles of etiology, diagnosis, treatment planning, and prevention of mental and emotional disorders and dysfunctional behavior; research and evaluation; and professional orientation.

Substance abuse counselors in the state earn LPC credentials in addition to addiction certifications from national organizations. School counseling candidates must earn a master's degree from an approved list of schools.

Practicum and Internship

MFT, MFTA, LPC, and LPCA candidates must complete internships or practicums as part of their graduate programs. MFT and MFTA applicants should earn at least 300 hours of client contact under MFT supervision before graduation. Meanwhile, the Kentucky counselor board requires LPC and LPCA programs to include internships with at least 400 hours.

Online Counseling Programs in Kentucky

The Kentucky counseling board allows candidates to earn their degrees through online programs as long as the degrees meet the other standards that the board sets. Learners typically need to complete the practicums and internships in person.

Kentucky schools offer several online graduate degrees in different areas of counseling. For example, the University of Kentucky provides a CACREP-accredited rehabilitation counseling program and the University of the Cumberlands has several online counseling degree options. Students can also earn online degrees from schools in other states; however, degree candidates must ensure that they can complete their internships near their homes.

How to Become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Kentucky

The Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet oversees counseling licensure in the state. Graduates looking to work as MFTs or LPCs must first apply for their MFTA or LPCA licenses, respectively. To qualify for the associate-level licenses, candidates must hold qualifying degrees and take the appropriate national exams. With associate licenses, professionals can work under the supervision of MFTs and LPCs. In that time, they complete required field supervision hours to qualify for the higher licenses. MFT candidates need 1,000 hours of direct client contact. LPC applicants need 4,000 supervised hours, with 1,600 of those including client contact.

Out-of-State Counselor Candidates

Counseling professionals who hold licenses in other states can apply for licensure by endorsement in Kentucky. The Kentucky counselor board evaluates the licensure requirements in the candidate's issuing state at the time the state granted the credentials. If the board decides that the conditions are substantially similar to those in Kentucky, the board grants the license. If not, the professional must fill gaps as the board requests.

For example, an LPC applicant who only completed 2,000 hours of post-graduate supervised experience may need to complete an additional 2,000 hours to qualify for Kentucky licensure. All Tennessee professionals qualify for counseling licensure by endorsement.

Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal in Kentucky

MFT and LPC licenses expire each year and professionals must earn continuing education credits to renew. MFTs must earn 15 continuing education credits — which should include three hours in ethics — as well as suicide training courses every six years. LPCs must earn 10 continuing education credits annually. Both MFT and LPC candidates must submit renewal applications before their expiration dates.

Professionals only need to send proof of continuing education, unless the board chooses them for audits. The Kentucky counselor board approves certain continuing education providers through which professionals must earn their credits.

Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Kentucky

  • Kentucky Counseling Association This branch of the American Counseling Association offers in-person continuing education opportunities through its annual conference. Professionals can satisfy their renewal requirements while broadening their professional networks. Classes vary each year, giving professionals a breadth of topics to explore. Experienced professionals teach each course and earn credit for their efforts.
  • Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision This organization holds conferences on even-numbered years. The conferences welcome counseling professionals from across the South and helps professionals create expansive professional networks. Attendees can earn all of their required credits at these conferences and may even teach once they gain enough experience.
  • Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute This Kentucky-based institute provides both online and in-person training opportunities. Counselors learn to help people in recovery after trauma, including the unique needs of trauma patients and evidence-based methods for helping, such as art therapy. Candidates can also earn resume-boosting certificates.

Resources and Professional Organizations for Counselors in Kentucky

  • Applications and Forms for Licensing This collection of forms includes applications for both LPCC and LPCA licensure. You'll also find supervision request forms and information on state reciprocity agreements. Additional resources include a complaint form, open records request, and mailing list request.
  • LPCC Supervisor List LPCAs must find a clinical counselor to supervise their practice until they complete the 4,000-hour requirement. This list includes contact information for LPCCs who are qualified clinical counselor supervisors in Kentucky.
  • Counselor Reciprocity Agreements Kentucky provides counselor reciprocity agreements for licensed counselors in Tennessee and Ohio. These agreements make it easier for individuals gaining licensure in Kentucky to later move to one of the other states.
  • NCE Candidate Handbook Students preparing for the NCE will find information about exam registration, scheduling, and fees. The handbook also provides an overview of the content covered by the exam.
  • Kentucky Statutes Read the revised statutes governing the state's professional counseling practices. The laws cover the power of the BPC, standards of conduct, hearings, and disciplinary actions and penalties.
  • Kentucky Counseling Association This state affiliate of the ACA provides a variety of networking and mentoring programs for students and new counselors. Members enjoy access to online communications, journals, and newsletters that share the latest research and best practices in counseling. The association also facilitates legislative advocacy efforts and public policy changes at the local, state, and national levels.
  • Kentucky School Counselor Association This nonprofit organization provides professional development and continuing education opportunities for school counselors. The professional network advocates for public policy initiatives and promotes the important services provided by school counselors. Membership includes access to online newsletters as well as phone consultations with the executive director.
  • Kentucky Association of Addiction Professionals An affiliate of the National Association for Addiction Professionals, the Kentucky chapter provides ongoing professional development and continuing education opportunities for members, including intensive in-person training. Members enjoy access to hundreds of educational webinars as well as a subscription to Advances in Addiction and Recovery. Students can also participate in the organization's fellowship program.
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