How to Become a Rehabilitation Counselor in New York

Rehabilitation counselors work with individuals who have some type of permanent or temporary disability. They assist their clients in several ways, from finding work and suitable housing to developing independent living skills. They also help clients access federal and private programs that provide support services for their type of disability.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a robust 13% growth rate for the rehabilitation counseling field. This rate outstrips the national average, rehabilitation counselors enter a job market with a high demand for their skills and knowledge.

If your professional goals include helping people with disabilities lead meaningful and productive lives, a career in rehabilitation counseling may prove meaningful. Rehabilitation counselors often make a real and lasting contribution to their client's quality of life and their sense of self-worth and dignity.

Continue reading to learn more about the counselor licensure process and how to become a rehabilitation counselor in New York.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in New York

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in New York here

Education and Experience Requirements

Rehabilitation counselors who wish to apply for licensure in the Empire State must meet both educational and supervised training requirements. As a rule, New York rehabilitation counselors become licensed mental health counselors (LMHC). You can find detailed information about academic and practical training requirements below.

Education and Coursework

LMHC candidates in New York need a minimum of 60 graduate-level credits before they can apply for licensure. The New York State Education Department (NYSED) handles licensure and certification requirements for the state. Candidates can meet LMHC educational requirements in one of three ways:

  1. Earn a master's or doctoral degree in counseling accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
  2. Complete a program registered with and recognized by the NYSED
  3. Complete a program determined by the NYSED as equivalent to an accredited curriculum

LMHC candidates who fall under the final category must submit their educational program to the Bureau of Comparative Education for review and approval before they continue with the licensure process.

Regardless of how candidates fulfill the educational requirements for licensure, their program must include coursework in the following content areas:

  • Assessment and appraisal
  • Clinical instruction
  • Counseling theory and practice
  • Foundations of mental health counseling and consultation
  • Group dynamics
  • Lifestyle and career development
  • Human growth and development
  • Professional orientation and ethics
  • Psychopathology
  • Research and program evaluation
  • Social and cultural foundations of counseling

Not all rehabilitation counseling positions in New York require the LMHC designation. Some only require rehabilitation counselors to hold the certified rehabilitation counselor (CRC) credential. Nevertheless, candidates still need a master's degree to become a CRC.


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


Practicum and Internship

Rehabilitation counselors seeking LMHC licensure must complete a minimum of 3,000 hours of supervised practice, at least 1,500 hours must involve direct client contact. LMHC candidates hold a limited practice permit while completing supervised training. Practice permits remain valid only at specific sites. Any change of setting requires holders to apply for another permit.

Application and Exam Requirements for New York Rehabilitation Counselors

After completing the educational and supervised practice requirements for licensure, candidates still need to pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). New York does not recognize the National Counselor Examination credential, which is also administered by NBCC, as equivalent to the NCMHCE designation and therefore does not accept it for licensure.

Licensure candidates must follow the procedure outlined below prior to sitting for the NCMHCE:

  1. Submit an application for licensure to the NYSED with the accompanying fee ($371)
  2. Request college or university verification of your master's degree and send the completed form directly to the NYSED
  3. Register for the NCMHCE after receiving NYSED approval to take the exam

Candidates who pass the NCMHCE in another state must ask NBCC to forward the results to the NYSED. Candidates who pursue an alternate educational path to licensure must get their results sent directly to the NYSED.

New York requires all LMHC and limited permit applicants to complete training or coursework in the identification and reporting of child abuse. Although it does not count as a requirement for licensure, New York recognizes the CRC credential. Under certain conditions, CRCs can practice in New York without the LMHC designation.

Out-of-State Rehabilitation Counselor Candidates

New York supports licensure by endorsement. Mental health counselors licensed in another state can apply for New York licensure if they have at least five years of licensed practice within the past 10 years. A licensed colleague who can attest to this fact must submit a verification form on behalf of the applicant.

Additional requirements include a completed verification form from the jurisdiction that issued the initial license, relevant NBCC exam scores, and an applicant experience record form. Candidates must send all documents directly to the NYSED.

Rehabilitation Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

New York requires LMHCs to register every three years. The license itself does not expire unless revoked, suspended, or annulled. LMHCs must complete 36 credits of continuing education units during each three-year period, except for the first registration period after securing initial licensure. Candidates must earn continuing education credits from an NYSED-approved provider and in mandated subject areas. The following activities can also count as continuing education:

  • Preparing and teaching an NYSED-approved course
  • Making a presentation at a professional conference
  • Authoring an article in a peer-reviewed journal or writing a book in the mental health field

New York requires LMHCs to register every three years

Resources and Organizations for Rehabilitation Counselors in New York

Rehabilitation counselors benefit from membership in regional and national organizations formed specifically for their profession or for the counseling field in general. These organizations often hold annual conferences where members learn about the latest research findings in the field, build their professional network, and find fresh career opportunities. Begin your search for an organization that can serve your professional goals as a rehabilitation counselor with the groups below.

  • Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification Rehabilitation counselors can find the latest information about earning the CRC designation on this website, which also includes a list of approved continuing education providers and contact data for state licensure boards across the country.
  • Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs Visitors to the CACREP website find the most recent news about counseling education, accreditation, and practice in addition to research initiatives for graduate students.
  • National Board for Certified Counselors NBCC supports the counseling profession through its advocacy efforts at the local, state, and federal levels. Licensed counselors can find out more about the board's initiatives and how they can contribute by joining its grassroots network.
  • National Council on Rehabilitation Education The NCRE website contains information relevant to different types of professionals in the rehabilitation arena, including educators, counselors, and researchers. The organization sponsors two national conferences each year for members to connect, collaborate, and network.
  • National Employment Counselors Association Rehabilitation counselors who focus on career development or employment counseling can benefit from the resources NECA offers. Those resources include regional and national conferences, certification as a Global Career Development Facilitator/Instructor, and research and educational opportunities.
  • National Rehabilitation Association – Metro New York Chapter This organization sponsors professional training events throughout the New York City area three times each year. Attendees learn about topics that impact their career as rehabilitation professionals, including multiculturalism and social reintegration for individuals with disabilities.
  • New York Chapter of the International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals IARP-NY offers informative on-demand webinars, some of which can count as continuing education credits. Members can also participate in an active discussion board where they can connect with peers.
  • New York Mental Health Counselors Association New York LMHCs focusing on rehabilitation counseling can benefit from this organization's continuing education programs, mentorship opportunities for graduate students, and quarterly e-Newsletter.
  • New York Rehabilitation Counseling Association NYRCA provides members with the latest news and information about the rehabilitation counseling field in the Empire State. It also hosts several educational activities and training sessions throughout the year.
  • Rehabilitation Counselors and Educators Association RCEA offers members the chance to earn continuing education credits. RCEA also offers training programs that help rehabilitation counselors improve their skills and increase their knowledge base.

Explore More Pathways to Becoming a Counselor in New York

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