How to Become a Rehabilitation Counselor in New Mexico

A 2014 household economics study by the U.S. Census Bureau on disability prevalence in the U.S. defined "disability" as any "impairment, activity limitation, or participation restriction a person may experience in their daily lives." This report found that about 85 million people living in the U.S. in 2014 reported a disability, with roughly 55 million reporting a severe disability.

These numbers support the faster-than-average employment rate (13%) that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects for rehabilitation counselors between 2016 and 2026. As the number of people living with disabilities increases, so too will the demand for qualified practitioners who can counsel clients on how to adjust to their limitations and live more independent lives.

Continue reading for information on what it takes to pursue a rehabilitation counselor career, specifically how to become a rehabilitation counselor in New Mexico. This career guide covers the education and experience requirements needed to obtain licensure in the state.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in New Mexico

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in New Mexico here

Education and Experience Requirements

The following section takes a closer look at the education requirements a person must fulfill to practice as a licensed counselor in New Mexico. Prospective students can read about the types of classes they should expect to take, including any practicum/internship hours required in an accredited program.

Education and Coursework

How to become a rehabilitation counselor in New Mexico begins with earning an advanced degree. To qualify, the degree may be in counseling or one of seven related fields. The New Mexico counselor board, the Counseling and Therapy Practice Board, considers the following as related fields: mental health-community counseling and agency counseling; psychology, clinical psychology, and counseling psychology; human and family studies; and art therapy.

becoming a rehabilitation counselor in New Mexico requires an advanced degree in counseling or one of seven related fields

A program in a related field must also meet core requirements as outlined by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Core coursework must pull from eight curricular areas, including professional counseling orientation and ethical practice, social and cultural diversity, counseling and helping relationships, group counseling, and assessment and training.

In total, the 48-credit core curriculum must include three semester hours in each of the eight CACREP curricular areas, along with nine semester hours of practicum or internship work. For the remaining 12 semester hours, students may choose from clinical electives to help them sharpen their skills in diagnosing and treating mental illness.

When applying for licensure, counselor candidates must provide sealed transcripts from all the schools they attended that contributed toward their accredited master's degrees.

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

Practicum and Internship

As noted, the CACREP curriculum requires students to use nine semester hours for practicum or internship experience. With these credits, each learner should complete 100 hours of supervised practicum work, with a minimum number in direct service. Though online programs vary, most allow learners to complete their practicum (or internship) locally at an approved site in their state.

Application and Exam Requirements for New Mexico Rehabilitation Counselors

The New Mexico counselor board issues 10 licenses for New Mexico counseling and therapy professionals, including two for rehabilitation counselors: the licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) and the clinical mental health counselor (LPCC). The LPCC requires 3,000 hours of post-master's supervised clinical work.

Each candidate must first apply for an LMHC license before beginning to accrue hours for LPCC licensure. To obtain the license, they must successfully pass the National Board for Certified Counselors' national counselor exam (NCE) and gain an appointment to work under the supervision of a licensed counselor. An LMHC can work toward their 3,000 supervised hours over 24 months.

The New Mexico counselor board issues two licenses for rehabilitation counselors: the licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) and the clinical mental health counselor (LPCC)

After completing the experience requirements, LPCC candidates must then pass the national clinical mental health counseling exam (NCMHCE), a test comprised of 10 clinical simulations covering a broad set of counseling competencies. Upon meeting this requirement, candidates can apply for LPCC licensure.

In their application, each candidate must provide their sealed college transcripts and a verified record of supervised hours, a current color photo, and answers to the application's questions to the best of their knowledge. The entire application review process takes 10-15 working days.

The NCE and NCMHCE exams cost $195. Test-takers who request a new appointment within seven days of their scheduled time can do so for a fee of $50. The LMHC application costs $75, while the LPCC application costs $220. Applications must be signed, dated, and notarized.

Out-of-State Rehabilitation Counselor Candidates

The process for how to become a counselor in New Mexico for out-of-state counselors largely depends on when the counselor last practiced. Professional counselors from another state with a license in good standing for the past five years can simply apply for reciprocity licensure.

In their application, which costs $75, each applicant must include proof that they earned an accredited master's or doctoral degree, and their former jurisdiction's board verify their license's standing.

As for out-of-state rehabilitation counselors who have not practiced in the field for the past five years, they must apply for an initial LPCC license and go through the entire application process anew.

Rehabilitation Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

LMHC and LPCC licensees must renew their licenses every two years by September 30 of the even-numbered year (e.g. 2020, 2022). During the intervening years of renewal, a rehabilitation counselor must earn 40 contact hours of continuing education, including six in ethics. The New Mexico counselor board will accept 12 online or home-study credits toward the 40-hour requirement.

LMHC and LPCC licensees must renew their licenses every two years

Licensees must provide documentation of all continuing education credits at the time of renewal. The cost of the renewal application is $75 for LMHCs and $220 for LPCCs. Note that the board does not offer a grace period for renewal. If licensees miss the deadline, they must apply for a license again.

Resources and Organizations for Rehabilitation Counselors in New Mexico

These associations and professional organizations help students researching how to become counselors in New Mexico. They provide member benefits, such as networking, career guidance, legislative updates, and continuing education credit. Students can apply for scholarships, find distributed support from peers, and gain a better understanding of a career in counseling.

  • American Counseling Association ACA supports the growth and enhancement of the counseling profession through 19 chartered divisions and 56 branches in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America. Students can access internship opportunities, career guidance, and next-level learning.
  • American Rehabilitation Counseling Association ARCA serves to enhance the development of individuals with disabilities throughout their lives and advance the rehabilitation counseling profession. The organization counts rehabilitation counselors, students, and educators among its membership.
  • At Health Founded in 1997, At Health provides flexible, easily accessible educational programs for mental health professionals working toward their professional development or continuing education. New Mexico allows counselors to earn 12 continuing education hours online.
  • Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification Established in 1974, CRCC helps to set the standard for competent delivery of rehabilitation counseling in the U.S., and it offers an internationally recognized program in the certified rehabilitation counselor designation.
  • National Council on Rehabilitation Education NCRE represents more than 100 higher education institutions and 450 members. Through education and research, the organization works to ensure quality standards of rehabilitation counseling services for people living with disabilities.
  • National Rehabilitation Association Founded in 1954, this association provides its members with professional development services, including education, training, and credentialing. NRA aims to improve society for individuals and families coping with disabilities.
  • New Mexico Career Development Association NMCDA provides support and recognition to professional counselors and human development specialists in New Mexico. The association hosts free workshops and promotes theory and practice of career development for the counseling and therapy fields.
  • New Mexico Counseling Association Established in 1956, NMCA serves as a state branch of the American Counseling Association. The association supports various subfields within counseling and promotes the professional development of its members through networking, collaboration, and continuing education.
  • New Mexico Counseling and Therapy Practice Board The New Mexico counselor board sets the professional, ethical, and continuing education standards for licensed mental health professionals practicing in the state. The board provides continuous updates on how to become a counselor in New Mexico and what it takes to maintain a professional license.
  • Southwest Family Guidance Center and Institute This trauma-informed agency, based in Albuquerque, provides evidence-based practice for youth, adolescents, and families in need of personalized behavioral health services. The Southwest Family Guidance Center currently services six counties.

Explore More Pathways to Becoming a Counselor in New Mexico

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