According to Mental Health America, a nonprofit organization that advocates for improved access to mental health care in the United States, residents of Mississippi have less access to mental health care than people in most other states. Individuals who want to provide desperately needed mental health care in the Magnolia State can review the page below to learn how to become a counselor in Mississippi. This resource covers the types of Mississippi counseling jobs, educational requirements, postgraduate supervision, and reciprocity requirements.
Counseling Careers in Mississippi
Mississippi counseling professionals serve their clients in a variety of settings, and can specialize in a particular demographic or disorder. The sections below highlight the main categories of counselors and what they do.
School, Guidance, Vocational, and Educational Counselors
These counselors help students of all ages identify their interests and skills. During a typical workday, they may offer personal and career guidance, and assist students individually or in small groups. They may also help with other academic issues that arise.Explore Career Information Explore Mississippi School Counselor Certification
Marriage and Family Therapists
These therapists spend their day helping individuals, couples, and families understand their feelings, adjust behaviors, and make decisions. They often work with clients facing challenges such as divorce, unemployment, or difficult relationships with their children or other family members.Explore Career Information
Rehabilitation counselors assist people living with developmental or other disabilities. They provide services that help their clients to function independently by locating resources, developing treatment plans, and working with employers to provide accommodations.Explore Career Information Explore Mississippi Rehabilitation Counselor Certification
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorders Counselor
These dedicated professionals provide essential services to people struggling with addictions, alcoholism, eating disorders, or other behavioral problems.They may facilitate interventions or inpatient treatment.Explore Career Information Explore Mississippi Substance Abuse Counselor Certification
Mental Health Counselors
These professionals help their clients achieve mental wellness through talk therapy. They can serve a variety of patients, like LQBTQ patients, or specialize in areas of care like eating disorders and pediatric mental health. Mental health counselors may work in private practices, inpatient centers, and hospitals.Explore Career Information
How Much Do Counselors Make in Mississippi?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) collects and reports on the salary ranges for several types of counselors. The chart below details this information for the country as a whole and Mississippi counseling professionals in particular. Readers should note that the BLS combines salary data for mental health, substance abuse, and behavioral disorder counselors.
Education Requirements for Counselors in Mississippi
Education and Coursework
Mississippi awards two types of permanent counseling licenses: the licensed professional counselor (LPC) and licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT). Before applying for those licenses, candidates must earn their Provisional-LPC (P-LPC) or LMFT associate (LMFTA) credentials, respectively.
LMFTA applicants must earn a master's or doctoral degree from programs with accreditation
P-LPC applicants must hold graduate degrees with at least 60 semester credits or 90 quarter credits from a counseling or related program. The degrees must include at least three semester credits in each of the following areas of study: human growth and development; abnormal psychology and psychopathology; social and cultural foundations; marriage or family counseling/therapy; counseling and psychotherapy skills; theories of counseling psychotherapy and personalities; group counseling; professional orientation to counseling or ethics; lifestyle and career development; research and evaluation; and testing and appraisal. P-LPC candidates must also pass the National Counselor Examination upon graduation.
LMFTA applicants must earn a master's or doctoral degree from programs with accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education. They must also pass the American Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Board's Examination in Marital and Family Therapy. The primary educational requirement for LMFTA candidates is a practicum or internship.
Practicum and Internship
Both P-LPC and LMFTA candidates must complete supervised experience as part of their educational requirements. P-LPC applicants must earn at least three semester credits from their internships. LMFTA candidates must complete practicums with 500 total hours, which must also include 200 hours of direct client experience.
Online Counseling Programs in Mississippi
In most states, a master's degree is the minimum educational requirement for licensure as a professional counselor. An online master's degree provides a convenient alternative to a traditional on-campus program, as the flexibility of an online program can accommodate the lives of busy adults with family or work commitments. Anyone with an internet connection can access course materials, turn in assignments, and interact with faculty and students through a desktop, laptop, or mobile device. Structured like brick-and-mortar programs, an online master's in counseling allows students to specialize in high-demand fields like mental health, substance abuse, and school counseling. Like many on-campus programs, online offerings require practicums or internships as part of their graduation requirements. Most programs help online students arrange these supervised experiences at a convenient location.
an online master's in counseling allows students to specialize in high-demand fields like mental health, substance abuse, and school counseling
Students will find several online counseling degrees nearby which can help prepare them to earn Mississippi counseling licensure. For example, just across the state's eastern border in Tuscaloosa, the University of Alabama's distance learning branch offers a CACREP-accredited master's in rehabilitation counseling. In nearby Arkansas, John Brown University has developed an online master's programs in clinical mental health, school counseling, and marriage and family therapy.
How to Become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Mississippi
The Mississippi State Board of Examiners for Licensed Professional Counselors oversees LPC counseling licensure, while the Mississippi State Board of Examiners for Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists manages LMFT licensure. After earning P-LPC licenses, candidates must earn 3,000 hours of supervised work, and at least 1,200 hours must include direct client supervision. Candidates can earn 40 total hours per week with up to 25 hours of direct client contact weekly. LMFTAs must complete two years of postgraduate supervision hours with at least 1,000 hours of client contact. Candidates may apply COAMFTE-approved internships toward this requirement.
Out of State Counselor Candidates
LPCs in other states can apply for licenses through comity if they have at least five years of experience. The state does not hold any reciprocity or endorsement agreements with other states for LPCs or LMFTs. Instead, candidates must meet all of the requirements that the board outlines for in-state applicants. Applicants who do not meet these requirements must complete them before earning licenses. For example, an out-of-state LPC with just 2,500 supervised clinical hours must complete an additional 500 hours as a P-LPC in Mississippi. Counselors from other states who wish to practice in Mississippi should contact the appropriate board as soon as possible for more information.
Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal in Mississippi
LPC licenses expire on June 30th of even numbered years. During each renewal cycle, professionals must earn at least 24 hours of continuing education, six of which must come from classes in ethics or legal issues in counseling. The Mississippi counselor board approves several continuing education providers, including the American Counseling Association, the American Mental Health Counselors Association, and the Mississippi Counseling Association. LMFTs must complete 24 continuing education hours every two years, and include four hours in ethics. While professionals can use online continuing education for most of the requirements, the ethics courses must take place in person.
Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Mississippi
- Mississippi Counseling Association MCA, in affiliation with the Mississippi Licensed Professional Counseling Association, sponsors an annual MCA fall conference and other continuing education opportunities that highlight current trends in counseling practice and provide continuing education credits. The MCA's website maintains an event calendar that lists upcoming conferences and workshops that carry approved continuing education units for Mississippi and nearby states.
- Mississippi Association of Addiction Professionals The MAAP supports professionals working in the field of chemical dependency in Mississippi, and provides its membership with professional development opportunities. The annual conference offers participants more than 20 continuing education units, and includes themes that address a variety of contemporary issues relevant to professionals, including suicide prevention, relapse prevention, faith-based therapy, and current industry trends.
- Mississippi Addiction Counselor Training Program The MACT provides addiction counselors and allied health professionals with skills to work with individuals and families affected by addiction. In operation in Mississippi for over a decade, this program offers on-site training in Oxford and Jackson. The program includes more than 90 courses that may be used to fulfill continuing education renewal requirements.
Resources and Professional Organizations for Counselors in Mississippi
- Mississippi Department of Human Services This official state-sponsored website provides information on available assistance and health and safety initiatives for children, families, and seniors. It provides useful data on economic support, education, social services, and health care.
- Mississippi State Department of Health/Health and Safety Topics This state-maintained resource provides downloadable reports on prescription drug abuse and the opioid and heroin epidemic in Mississippi. It also includes links to government and private agencies that promote drug awareness and addiction prevention.
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention This independent health organization funds research, sponsors educational programs, and advocates for public policies in suicide prevention and mental health. It also provides resources and support for survivors of suicide loss.
- Counseling Today This monthly publication for professional counselors maintains an accompanying website. Both formats feature news stories and in-depth articles on a range of issues.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration The SAMHSA advances public health initiatives to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness. Their website offers statistics, policy updates, and information about grants of interest to mental health professionals.
- American Counseling Association The ACA, established in 1952, promotes public confidence in the counseling profession. Its membership includes professional counselors from the U.S. and 50 other countries. It offers a career information center and job bank, along with information about continuing education regulations and opportunities. ACA members have access to the organization's online professional development program.
- American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy The AAMFT represents the professional interests of 50,000 marriage and family therapists in the U.S. and internationally. It sponsors an annual conference and provides information on licensing and professional development. The association has developed an online learning delivery system for NBCC-approved continuing education courses.
- Mississippi Licensed Professional Counselors Association As the only organization working on behalf of mental health counseling professionals in Mississippi, the MLPCA maintains a political action committee to monitor legislation that affects the counseling profession. Its annual conference and workshops offer continuing education credits to its members. The MLPCA also sponsors the June Comola scholarship for graduate students who intend to enter the field.