The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) identifies the Boston-Cambridge-Nashua metropolitan area as one of the biggest in the nation in terms of its employment level of mental health counselors. To enter this growing field, prospective counselors must meet specific licensure requirements set by New Hampshire's state Board of Mental Health Practice. Some of these requirements include earning a graduate degree from an approved program, completing a minimum number of internship hours, and passing an exam. This guide offers further details on each of these requirements. Keep reading to learn more about how to become a counselor in New Hampshire.
Counseling Careers in New Hampshire
Mental health professionals in New Hampshire can access a variety of specialized career fields. Aside from practicing generally as licensed practicing counselors (LPCs), counselors may also pursue specific types of work, including school counseling, marriage and family therapy, and rehabilitation counseling. Read more about these specialized fields below.
School, Guidance, Vocational, and Educational Counselors
Educational, guidance, and school counselors work with students at different education levels. These counselors may address emotional, behavioral, family, and study skills. High school counselors also help students make college and career decisions and often facilitate the application process. Vocational counselors help adult clients identify and hone existing skills, set career goals, practice interviewing techniques, and search for jobs.Explore Career Information Explore New Hampshire School Counselor Certification
Marriage and Family Therapists
These counselors assist clients with understanding, processing, and improving problems affecting marital and family relationships, including career stress. Strategies typically include behavior modification, communication, and goal setting. Therapists may also refer clients to other resources, including support groups.Explore Career Information
These professionals assist individuals with disabilities. They help clients live more independently through the development and implementation of treatment plans. Services depend on the age and disability of a client but often include consultations with medical professionals, arrangements for mobility assistance, and job training.Explore Career Information Explore New Hampshire Rehabilitation Counselor Certification
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorders Counselor
Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors work closely with clients struggling with addiction and other challenges. These counselors develop treatment plans and partner with clients and families to change destructive behaviors and implement coping strategies.Explore Career Information Explore New Hampshire Substance Abuse Counselor Certification
Mental Health Counselors
Mental health counselors and LPCs help patients work toward mental wellness using methods like talk therapy. Counselors may help patients cope with issues such as trauma, addiction, and mental illness. They may also diagnose and suggest different treatment options, practicing alongside medical professionals like psychiatrists. These professionals work in places like hospitals, medical centers, universities, and private practices.Explore Career Information
How Much Do Counselors Make in New Hampshire?
Various factors influence a counselor's earning potential. Their type of practice, location, and experience level can all impact earnings. Different specializations can also yield different salaries. The table below outlines the median salaries for a variety of counseling professionals in New Hampshire and across the nation. Note that the BLS combines wage data for substance abuse, behavioral, and mental health counselors.
Education Requirements for Counselors in New Hampshire
Education and Coursework
To become a counselor in any state, prospective practitioners must complete minimum education requirements. Generally, this includes a master's degree in mental health counseling or a closely related field, such as social work or psychology. Each state has its own licensing board that sets the required standards for mental health counselors to practice.
prospective practitioners must complete a master's degree in mental health counseling or a closely related field, such as social work or psychology
New Hampshire's Board of Mental Health Practice requires that counselors hold a master's degree from a program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). This organization establishes academic standards for counseling programs, including required coursework and supervised experience.
New Hampshire requires that students complete a minimum of 60 graduate-level credits in their program. The state's board also requires students to take courses in areas like clinical counseling techniques, group work, and ethics in mental health counseling. CACREP-accredited programs prepare students to pass the required licensure examination, which is offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).
This exam covers topics in human development, social and cultural diversity, diagnostics and assessment, and the counseling process. Prior to applying for licensure, candidates also must complete a minimum number of supervised practice hours, which are overseen by a licensed mental health professional.
Practicum and Internship
New Hampshire's Board of Mental Health Practice requires prospective mental health professionals to complete a minimum of 3,000 supervised clinical hours. Counselors must complete these hours over the course of at least two years after they have earned a master's degree. A board-certified and licensed mental health professional must supervise these hours.
Online Counseling Programs in New Hampshire
Online programs provide increased convenience and flexibility, allowing students to earn their degree while working, raising children, or pursuing other personal interests. Most programs follow an asynchronous format. However, some counseling programs also require occasional on-campus or in-person sessions.
Online programs provide increased convenience and flexibility
Southern New Hampshire University offers an online master of arts in clinical mental health counseling. This 60-credit program provides in-depth training for a counseling career, and students meet most state standards for licensure. In addition to online coursework, students must fulfill a minimum 100-hour practicum, two separate 300-hour internships, and two different residencies (five days each).
How to Become a Licensed Professional Counselor in New Hampshire
The New Hampshire Board of Mental Health Practice serves as the governing body for LPCs in the state. This board determines the requirements for counseling licensure, including the minimum education and experience required to practice. Upon completing the required 60-credit master's degree in mental health counseling from a CACREP-accredited program, students must then pass the National Counselor Examination For Licensure and Certification.
To apply for professional licensure, applicants must submit all required materials, including academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a $150 application fee. Applicants must also submit a criminal record report and a form documenting all of their required clinical experience hours.
Out-of-state Counselor Candidates
New Hampshire provides guidelines for how to become a licensed counselor in the state for professionals who hold an out-of-state license. Each state has its own individual licensure requirements; however, the Board of Mental Health Practice awards licensure to any applicant who already holds a license in another state, so long as that state's requirements meet the same minimum standards.
Out-of-state applicants must submit a special application form to release their records from their previous state, enabling the board to verify their background and experiences. However, if the previous state's standards do not meet those in New Hampshire, the board will deny the transfer.
Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal in New Hampshire
In New Hampshire, once a counselor earns professional licensure, they must maintain and renew that license to keep practicing. Counselors in New Hampshire must apply to renew their license every two years. The renewal application process can take a few weeks to process, so counselors must submit their materials prior to their license expiration date. Professionals must also complete continuing education credits.
In addition to submitting a renewal application, counselors pay a $270 renewal fee. The renewal application includes questions regarding a counselor's practice, including whether any malpractice complaints have been filed against them and if the counselor has a plan for handling the privacy of their patient's records.
Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in New Hampshire
- The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester In addition to delivering mental health services to clients, this organization provides continuing education opportunities to mental health, substance abuse, and marriage and family counselors. Opportunities include mental health first aid courses for adults, youth, or veterans; cultural competency; ethics; and evidence-based practices. An annual spring training conference offers additional professional development sessions.
- New Hampshire Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counselors Association This nonprofit organization delivers training and continuing education credits to New Hampshire addiction counselors. In-person events include suicide risk and prevention, supervision of peer support staff, and general administrative rules review. Approximately 30 webinars also provide continuing education credits and cover topics including teen culture, screening for problem gambling, and psychopharmacology.
- NetCE New Hampshire's Board of Mental Health Practice honors continuing education credits earned through organizations approved by NBCC. New Hampshire counselors can earn these credits online at their convenience through NetCE. The extensive menu of courses includes ethics for counselors (required in New Hampshire), behavioral addictions, and postpartum depression.
Resources and Professional Organizations for Counselors in New Hampshire
- Campaign to Change Direction - New Hampshire New Hampshire healthcare professionals, lawmakers, educators, and law enforcement collaboratively launched the first statewide promotion of the Campaign to Change Direction. This nationwide effort seeks to increase awareness of mental health disorders -- and reduce the stigma around them -- through outreach initiatives, events, and publicity.
- New Hampshire's Center for Excellence This advocacy group supports drug and alcohol abuse recovery by delivering resources, technical assistance, and timely data to substance abuse counselors and support organizations. The center receives funding through the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and various state and federal government divisions.
- New Hampshire Bureau of Mental Health Services This division of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services supports mental health services for adults and children statewide. Local community mental health centers and peer support agencies deliver direct assistance.
- New Hampshire Association of School Psychologists NHASP provides school psychologists with resources, education opportunities, and regional meetings. The association also aims to influence government policies affecting the education and well-being of children and families.
- New Hampshire Mental Health Counselors Association This chapter of the American Mental Health Counselors Association advocates for mental health counselors and their clients. The group provides educational resources to its members and the public. Members can obtain assistance with the state licensing process.
- NH Providers Association This association works to improve the outcomes of alcohol and drug abuse programs and influence state policies impacting these programs. Members include substance abuse counselors, alcohol and drug service providers, agency leaders, and students. The organization provides members with resources, continuing education training, events, legal advice, and vendor discounts.