Counseling Licensing Requirements in Kentucky

You'll need a license to practice professional counseling in Kentucky. You can become a licensed professional counselor associate (LPCA) by completing educational requirements and then submitting the necessary paperwork and fees. In order to achieve the higher status of licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC), you must fulfill state requirements for supervised practice. Counselor requirements include taking a licensing exam for those interested in Kentucky counseling licensure.

Counseling Careers in Kentucky

Counseling encompasses multiple specialties, all of which the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects will experience strong job growth over the next decade. Many school systems look to career and school counselors to help students select their future careers and identify training and educational opportunities. Rehabilitation counselors help an aging population adjust to the effects of injuries or disease. Counselors may also work with veterans returning from deployment or who have left the military, assisting them with mental health conditions or training and counseling to find a new career. Many areas, especially rural communities, continue to be underserved by mental health counselors, offering additional job opportunities.

  • Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors: Most professionals in this field work in elementary and secondary schools, as well as colleges and post-secondary training programs. These counselors help students identify careers that suit their interests and strengths. They may also provide counseling for students who struggle academically or socially in school.
  • Marriage and Family Therapists: These professionals work with couples or families to overcome relationship issues using a variety of counseling methods. Many family counselors work in private offices or partner with other healthcare providers.
  • Rehabilitation Counselors: These counselors work with clients coping with the impacts of chronic illness, traumatic injuries, or congenital disabilities. Professionals in this specialty work with vocational rehabilitation services, residential development facilities, or hospitals. They may treat clients for mental health issues as well as help individuals identify new career paths.
  • Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: These professionals assist clients in overcoming drug or alcohol addiction or dependency, and identify underlying mental health issues. They may work in outpatient care centers, individual offices, or addiction treatment facilities.
  • All Other Counselors: Counselors diagnose and treat many mental and emotional health conditions, such as depression or anxiety. They help clients cope with periods of stress or provide ongoing treatment and monitoring for chronic mental illness. Many counselors establish private practices or outpatient care centers.
Occupation Average Salary in Kentucky
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors $58,740
Marriage and Family Therapists $37,340
Rehabilitation Counselors $37,340
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $41,990
Counselors, All Other $42,700

Source: BLS

Other Professionals Who May be Licensed as Counselors

If you're in a related field and choose to be licensed as a counselor, you must meet the same standards. The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) recognizes dance/movement therapy as a counseling specialty. The Kentucky application form lists certified professional art therapists among possible clinical supervisors. Those who work as pastoral counselors and receive compensation for counseling services have a separate application process.

Education Requirements for Counselors

In order to be licensed at either level, you need graduate-level education comprised of at least 60 semester hours. The degree may be in counseling or another related field. When exploring counseling requirements in Kentucky, note that your coursework should be drawn from the following content areas:

  • Lifestyle and Career Development
  • The Helping Relationship
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Group Dynamics, Process, Counseling, and Consulting
  • Individual Assessment, Appraisal, and Testing
  • Social and Cultural Foundations
  • Emotional Disorders and Dysfunctional Behavior: Etiology, Diagnosis, Treatment Planning, and Prevention
  • Professional Orientation
  • Research and Program Evaluation

You also must have a practicum or internship of at least 400 clock hours. Many websites offer more information on the subject.

Online Counseling Programs in Kentucky

Earning Kentucky counseling licensure requires students to complete at least a master's degree in counseling or a related field from a regionally accredited university. Those who want to know how to become a licensed counselor in Kentucky should know that many schools offer some online options for students. Online classes provide students with greater flexibility in class scheduling, allowing them to juggle multiple responsibilities. Evaluate program offerings based on the type of practice you plan to pursue. Many schools offer specializations in areas of addiction treatment or working with special populations such as veterans or children. Be sure to check available internship and practicum opportunities. Not only does Kentucky require these experiences, but an internship allows you to network with other professionals.

Several universities provide online programs for those who want to know how to become a therapist in Kentucky. The University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg offers a fully online master's degree in counseling that is CACREP accredited. The 60-hour program includes internship and practicum requirements, with specialty tracks available in addiction treatment or clinical mental health counseling. Other schools offer graduate certificates online that enhance a counselor's knowledge and abilities, such as the University of Kentucky's developmental disabilities certificate. Students may also complete a related degree, so long as the program meets Kentucky's curriculum requirements. Students can seek a degree from another state, such as the University of Tennessee-Martin.

How Do You Become a Counselor in Kentucky?

You must have your associate license to begin practice. Click here to access the application forms. Keep your transcripts and other documents handy when you complete the application. You must have basic information about the courses you have taken. There is room on the form to list multiple courses under each content area. The board suggests that you call your university if you face difficulty completing the forms.

You must include a $50 check or money order with your associate application, and you must send your official transcripts directly from your school to the Kentucky board.

You must also have your supervisory contract approved before you begin work. The contract will specify what type of experience you plan to obtain and how many hours a week you will put in in different types of settings. Generally, the board meets the third Friday of each month. If you want to have your application reviewed that month, you should have it in the board office 10 business days before the meeting. Otherwise, the review will be delayed until the following meeting.

You must renew your associate license each year and pay the required fee. You will report your client contact and supervision hours, along with how many hours of continuing education you have completed. If you have disciplinary actions or felony convictions, you must provide details to the board. Your approved supervisor will verify your contact and supervision hours.

Applying for LPCC Status

You will again complete paperwork and pay a licensing fee. This time you must have your experience verified. If you had more than one supervisor, each one must complete section four.

The application asks whether you hold national certification or licensing in any state. It also asks about your educational and work history, and poses professional fitness questions.

Licensing Fees

The Board of Professional Counselors (BPC) administers all Kentucky laws and regulations for practicing counselors. Fees paid to the board support staff in fulfilling their jobs as the BPC receives no funding from state tax collections. You'll pay licensing fees at the time of application. Counselors must pay renewal fees each year, with a 60-day grace period. After the grace period expires, you will also pay a reinstatement fee or the state will terminate your license.

In addition to the application and licensing fees noted below, applicants must pay for a background check by the Kentucky State Police and a fingerprint check by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Check with your school on any transcript charges as well.

Request Type Fee
Application Fee $50
Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor $150
Licensed Professional Counselor Associate $50
Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor Renewal $150
Licensed Professional Counselor Associate Renewal $50
License Reactivation $250 for LPCC and $90 for LPCA

Source: Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet

The Licensing Exam

You must take and pass the licensing exam before you apply for the Kentucky LPCC credential. The National Counselor Examination (NCE) is administered by the NBCC. You must send it to the NBCC along with a $185 fee and an official transcript in an original sealed envelope. You should send all materials to the NBCC Assessment Dept. The NBCC will process your fee first, and then your application. You should allow four weeks from the time your fee clears to get your approval. Once you receive it, you may call the testing professionals or visit the website to schedule your examination.

Kentucky uses the test's computer-based version. The exam takes four hours and is generally administered on weekdays during the first two weeks of the month. Some testing centers also offer Saturday hours. You may test in Lexington or Louisville, or at any of the country's other testing centers. You may reschedule once without having to pay additional fees. You have a six-month window in which to schedule your exam.

LPC Supervised Practice Requirement

You must complete at least 4,000 hours of post-degree supervised practice before you can attain full professional licensure. At least 1,600 hours must be direct counseling work. The board encourages you to put in at least 10 hours of direct counseling work at a correctional institution during your time as an associate.

You will need 100 hours of individual, face-to-face supervision. Your supervisor may be an LPC; clinical social worker; marriage and family therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist; or a master's-level nurse with psychiatric credentialing.

Out-of-State Candidates - LPC Requirements

You are eligible for licensing reciprocity if you have a current license that's in good standing in another state, have met Kentucky's educational requirements, and have been practicing for at least five years as a certified or professional counselor. If you meet the criteria, you will not need to demonstrate that you have met Kentucky's requirements for supervised practice or examination.

License Maintenance and Renewal

You must renew your professional license annually. You will need to include a licensing fee with your renewal and attest that you have completed the required 10 hours of continuing education. You will retain documentation in case you are audited.

Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Kentucky

  • General Continuing Education: The BPC makes it easy to find upcoming training opportunities through this list. The organization lists upcoming sessions and the hours available at each session, noting if the course meets specialized requirements for law, domestic violence, or suicide prevention. The BPC also provides a variety of training options and topics of interest, including anger management to promoting positive mental health in schools.
  • Law: Kentucky requires all licensed counselors complete at least three continuing education credits on law every three years. The list of approved courses includes topics such as state counseling regulations and statutes and discussion of professional ethics. You can seek courses from other providers as well. Kentucky accepts courses approved by organizations such as the American Counseling Association (ACA), so long as the provider is an LPCC or counselor associate.
  • Suicide Prevention: All licensed counselors in the state must complete six hours of continuing education in suicide prevention every six years. You can take these courses online or in person so long as the state approves the material. Providers include individual counselors, behavioral health organizations, and universities. Often, conference sessions sponsored by national or state organizations such as the ACA or Kentucky Counseling Association meet the requirement for continuing education credits.

Resources for Counselors

  • Applications and Forms: This collection of forms includes applications for both the 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: As an LPCA, you must find a clinical counselor to supervise your practice until you complete the 4,000-hour requirement. This list includes contact information for all 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 practice. The laws cover the power of the BPC, standards of conduct, hearings, and disciplinary actions and penalties.

Professional Organizations for Counselors

  • Kentucky Counseling Association: The 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 level.
  • 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 the promotion of 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 Addition and Recovery. Students can also participate in the organization's fellowship program.
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