How to Become a Rehabilitation Counselor in Massachusetts

If you're looking to help clients of diverse backgrounds recover from physical and mental disabilities to make a drastic impact on their lives, a career in rehabilitation counseling could be an excellent choice. Rehabilitation counselors in Massachusetts work with clients in many settings, including community and vocational rehabilitation centers, private practices, nursing and residential care facilities. Many professionals also run their own private practices.

As a rehabilitation counselor, you will need excellent interpersonal and communication skills. Professionals in these roles must engage with clients on their own terms and develop health plans to help them live to their fullest potential.

Licensure in this rewarding and growing field prepares students for careers as vocational rehabilitation counselors, vocational case managers, program specialists, and career coaches. Prospective counselors can also take comfort in the fact that the field continues to grow. CareerOneStop projects that job openings for rehabilitation counselors in Massachusetts will increase by 7% by 2026.

While completing the steps to obtain licensure may seem daunting at first, this guide simplifies the process and lists all of the important information you need to become a rehabilitation counselor in Massachusetts.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in Massachusetts

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in Massachusetts here

Education and Experience Requirements

The Massachusetts state board requires each license seeker to obtain a certain level of education and hands-on experience. In the sections below, we highlight the necessary educational requirements, coursework, and practicums that you will need to become a rehabilitation counselor in Massachusetts.

Education and Coursework

In Massachusetts, each prospective counselor needs a master's or doctoral degree in rehabilitation counseling or a closely related field, such as counselor education or psychology. Master's degrees, including coursework and field experiences, can take full-time students 2-3 years to complete. Doctoral degrees can take up to five or more years to finish, depending on the school's graduation requirements.

In Massachusetts, each prospective counselor needs a master's or doctoral degree in rehabilitation counseling or a closely related field

As a graduate student, you will need at least 60 semester hours of counseling coursework to pursue licensure in Massachusetts. While the state acknowledges credits from courses outside of a graduate program, you must earn at least 48 credits in an accredited master's or doctoral program. If you possess a master's degree that required fewer than 48 total credits to graduate, you can complete an advanced certificate or elective classes to serve as supplemental credits.

The Massachusetts counselor board requires each candidate to complete at least three semesters of coursework in subject areas such as counselor theory, sociocultural foundations, special treatment issues, research and evaluation, and psychopathology. An individual seeking a license whose master's degree curriculum did not cover these areas may take additional elective courses to satisfy state requirements. Potential electives may include special treatment issues, community mental health studies, treatment modalities, and servicing special populations.

Interested in pursuing an education in school counseling? Check out the following pages to explore available academic programs by level:

Practicum and Internship

Before earning a master's degree, you must complete 100 hours or more of supervised practicum experience. Of the total required hours, at least 40 hours must be an in-person scenario with direct client contact. A master's student completing their practicum for licensure in Massachusetts must take 50 supervised hours per term.

During the master's program, students will also need at least 16 hours of internship experience. Massachusetts requires each student to possess 240 hours of direct client contact before graduation. The internship should include at least 45 hours of supervised practice, 15 hours of individual client care, and 15 hours in a group setting.

Application and Exam Requirements for Massachusetts Rehabilitation Counselors

Massachusetts requires candidates to follow several steps toward licensure, which includes exams. Read on for a list of the important components of the application process.

  • The state counseling board requires all counselors in the state to pass the certified rehabilitation counselor (CRC) exam offered by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification.
  • Each applicant must create an online ePlace account to register with the Division of Professional Licensure Board.
  • All applications need to include two professional references, preferably from your most recent work supervisors or professors. Recommenders may submit letters electronically or through the mail directly to the board.
  • A prospective counselor must possess a minimum of two years of full-time work experience, significant supervised clinical experience after completing a master's degree, or what the state considers equivalent part-time rehabilitation counseling work. All experience should come from employment in clinics or hospitals licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health or accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals.
  • A complete application also includes a criminal offender record information acknowledgment form, a certified rehabilitation counselor certificate, and a recent passport-size photo.
  • Each licensure applicant must include official transcripts in a sealed envelope, their exam score, and a notarized affidavit.
  • Massachusetts requires a non-refundable $117 application fee.

Out-of-State Rehabilitation Counselor Candidates

Applicants with current counseling credentials outside of Massachusetts must provide the board with verification of their official licenses. An individual with a certified clinical mental health counselor credential will often need to complete fewer steps than those with only a certified rehabilitation counselor credential. The board, however, evaluates credentials on a case-by-case basis and determines if each incoming counselor possesses licensure from a state that meets or exceeds the requirements in Massachusetts.

To determine your qualifications as an out-of-state applicant, you must request that your current state licensing board submits a list of requirements that were in effect at the time of your initial counseling license.

Rehabilitation Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

Rehabilitation counselors in Massachusetts needs to renew their licenses and complete 30 hours of continuing education classes every two years. Continuing education credits must come from programs or organizations approved by the Massachusetts Mental Health Counselors Association.

Rehabilitation counselors in Massachusetts needs to renew their licenses and complete 30 hours of continuing education classes every two years

Organizations through which professionals can obtain approved continuing education credits also include the Commission of Rehabilitation Counselors, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Counselors Association, or the Bridgewell Center for Professional Innovation. Counselors can also secure continuing education credits through professional organizations and college coursework. Up to 50% of the credits may come from online or home-study classes.

Resources and Organizations for Rehabilitation Counselors in Massachusetts

Licensed Massachusetts counselors and counseling students can receive great benefits from participating in academic societies and professional organizations. These groups offer professionals and future counselors access to exclusive online resources, networking opportunities at annual conferences, discounted software, reduced membership fees, and membership databases. The list below contains some helpful resources for rehabilitation counseling professionals and students in Massachusetts.

  • Association for Behavioral Healthcare As one of the leading mental health advocacy institutions in Massachusetts, ABH represents more than 80 mental healthcare providers across the state. The association promotes community-based mental health and addiction treatment services and relies on the support of its members to enact positive change. Members can receive access to online publications and state reports, news updates, legislative information in Massachusetts, and, in some cases, opportunities to impact healthcare policies at the state and national levels.
  • American Counseling Association ACA is the world's largest organization that represents professional counselors. The association promotes the professional development of counselors and advocates for ethical practices in the field. Members receive access to discounted liability insurance, online journal and newsletter publications, continuing education opportunities, and up-to-date information on critical policy issues.
  • American Mental Health Counselors Association Founded in 1976, the AMHCA is a membership organization that brings together mental health counselors online and in-person to initiate collaborative efforts and disseminate the latest research in the field. Student members receive access to discounted liability insurance, research support and online resources, and a discussion board. Professional counselors can take advantage of continuing education opportunities, networking events, and exclusive online publications.
  • American Rehabilitation Counseling Association ARCA is a membership-based, academically focused organization that strives to improve the lives of people with disabilities. Members can enjoy online newsletters, an annual conference, workshops and training sessions, and legislative updates. Additionally, the association offers a special student chapter.
  • Bridgewell Center for Professional Innovation Licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services and the Department of Mental Health, Bridgewell offers social and human services to support people with disabilities. Located in Peabody, Massachusetts, the organization offers professional development opportunities for counseling professionals, including workshops and lectures. Counseling students can also secure hands-on experience through Bridgewell's volunteer opportunities.
  • Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification Professionals and students can take advantage of CRCC's online resources, including career development resources, certification information, and an active online job board. Additionally, CRCC provides access to continuing education providers and information on the CRC exam.
  • Massachusetts Department of Mental Health DMH is Massachusetts' leading mental health authority that provides access and services to individuals of all ages with disabilities and mental health needs. DMH offers internship opportunities, peer support training, certification programs, and development workshops for counseling professionals.
  • Massachusetts Mental Health Counselors Association MaMHCA members receive access to an annual conference, an online newsletter, continuing education workshops, and an active job board. Members may also take advantage of one-on-one licensure application assistance to receive feedback on their materials before applying.
  • Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission MRC is a state-funded organization that offers a variety of community-based services and works directly with people with physical and mental health disabilities. The commission offers hands-on experience and professional development for students and young professionals through its apprentice programs.
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness NAMI Massachusetts offers several personal development programs, including its mental health advocates initiative. The alliance offers many volunteer opportunities for aspiring counselors and young professionals to gain hands-on experience in the field.

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