Mental health counseling is a rewarding career in which you can help people overcome problematic behaviors and addiction. As more states, including Oklahoma, seek treatment and counseling services for drug offenders, demand for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors will increase. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment growth for mental health counselors to increase 23% from 2016-2026.
This guide provides research on how to become a mental health counselor in the state; it includes salary expectations, job descriptions, and information about educational requirements. Read on to learn more about how to become a mental health counselor in Oklahoma.
Counseling Careers in Oklahoma
The section below provides you with job descriptions for different counseling careers, such as educational counselors or marriage and family therapists. The type of mental health counselor you become can determine the specific population you treat and where you work. Read on to learn more about the different types of counseling careers available in Oklahoma.
School, Guidance, Vocational, and Educational Counselors
Marriage and Family Therapists
These therapists help families and couples navigate relationships. They often work in clinical settings, where they have regular appointments with patients to gradually help them over time.Explore Career Information
Rehabilitation counseling often comes after trauma or acute illness, which can leave patients needing guidance and support on how to live productive, independent lives. These counselors help such clients work through these issues.Explore Career Information Explore Oklahoma Rehabilitation Counselor Certification
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorders Counselor
These professionals work in clinical settings to provide support and tools to clients with substance abuse and behavioral health issues such as addiction, eating disorders, or obsessive compulsive disorder.Explore Career Information Explore Oklahoma Substance Abuse Counselor Certification
Mental Health Counselors
Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors provide treatment and resources to people suffering from addiction, eating disorders, mental health issues, and other behavioral problems. They also work with clients to identify situations interfering with recovery. Mental health counselors sometimes work with specific groups, such as children or the elderly.Explore Career Information
How Much Do Counselors Make in Oklahoma ?
When researching how to become a counselor in Oklahoma, you may want to know how much you can earn. The table below shows different counseling careers and salaries in Oklahoma, with data showing a combination of wages for behavioral, substance abuse, and mental health counselors.
Education Requirements for Counselors in Oklahoma
Education and Coursework
Education requirements are a key factor to consider when studying to become a licensed counselor in Oklahoma. To qualify to perform LPC counseling in the state, you must hold at least a master's degree in counseling — or a content-equivalent degree in mental health — from a regionally accredited college or university. Licensure applicants must also hold at least 60 semester credits or 90 quarter credits of graduate-level, counseling-related coursework.
To qualify to perform LPC counseling in the state, you must hold at least a master's degree in counseling
The graduate degree must follow a sequenced program, appear in the college or university catalog, and focus on preparing the degree candidate for a counseling career. The institution's catalog must clearly list the program's core courses.
Applicants must complete at least five elective courses from 16 knowledge areas, and they must also pass at least one or more courses in each of the following core counseling areas: human growth and development, abnormal human behavior, appraisal and assessment techniques, counseling theories and methods, professional orientation and ethics, research, and practicum and internship.
The state provides an academic worksheet for LPCs and a list of pre-approved programs and courses on the Oklahoma counseling board's website. Applicants seeking marriage and family therapist or behavioral practitioner licensure face different educational requirements, including type of degree and core classes.
Practicum and Internship
Oklahoma requires a practicum or internship for counseling licensure. Aspiring LPCs must complete at least one organized practicum or internship with at least 300 hours in counseling. The practicum or internship must include planned experiences involving classroom and field experience with clients under the supervision of college or university counseling professionals.
Online Counseling Programs in Oklahoma
Online programs can offer counseling students the same quality of education as their on-campus counterparts, with plenty of additional benefits. Distance education courses are often asynchronous, meaning that students can watch lectures, complete homework, and take tests at any convenient time — so long as they finish before the deadline. Furthermore, many online classes are mobile friendly, giving learners the freedom to complete their education anywhere. These flexible features allow students to work and have social lives while in school.
Online programs offer counseling students the same quality of education as their on-campus counterparts, with plenty of additional benefits
The most financially feasible way to attend school online is often to choose an in-state program. These institutions usually offer steep discounts for residents. Oklahoma students have great options when it comes to online learning.
For example, Southeastern Oklahoma State University has a school counseling graduate program with all of its courses offered online; the practicum is completed in person, which is standard for online counseling programs. Oklahoma State University offers programs in both mental health and school counseling. Although students must take a few courses on campus, the university offers many online. Students can also choose to attend one of the many Texas schools that offer in-state tuition for Oklahoma residents.
How to Become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Oklahoma
The State Board of Behavioral Health Licensure is the Oklahoma counselor board, which is responsible for issuing counseling licensure. To qualify for licensure, aspiring LPCs must undergo supervised experience and pass two exams: the National Counselor Examination and the Oklahoma Legal and Ethical Responsibilities Examination.
Under direct supervision by a state-approved LPC, applicants complete three years or 3,000 hours of full-time experience, including 350 hours of direct client contact. The LPC application must also include an affidavit of lawful presence, official transcripts, three documents of recommendation, an internship or practicum documentation form, and a criminal background check.
Out-of-State Counselor CandidatesOklahoma offers licensure by endorsement for counselors licensed out-of-state. Mental health counselors who have held an out-of-state license to provide independent counseling for more than five years must fill out a specific application form. The state also provides a separate form for out-of-state LPCs who practiced mental health counseling for less than five years. To apply for licensure endorsement, candidates must submit the correct application, an affidavit of lawful presence, official transcripts, three documents of recommendation, and an out-of-state verification form. Applicants must also complete a criminal background check and fingerprinting services with a local law enforcement agency, county sheriff, or university police.
Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal in Oklahoma
LPCs must renew a license in three time periods: the initial, interim, and annual. Each period requires a renewal fee and continuing education. Your initial license expires two years from the last day of the month in which you received the credential. The interim period begins on the initial expiration date and ends on the last day of June. The required amount of continuing education hours varies based on the month you acquired your initial license.
After the interim period, LPCs must renew a license every year before the last day of June. For the annual renewal, applicants must complete 20 hours of continuing education, including three hours of counseling ethics.
Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Oklahoma
- Edmond Counseling and Professional Development The Counseling Institute at this facility provides continuing education courses for Oklahoma counselors throughout the year. Professionals can learn about mindfulness in action, ethics, self-care, and cultural competencies. The institute holds many of these classes on Saturdays in Edmond.
- CREOKS This nonprofit human services agency offers continuing education courses for counseling professionals each year. The Oklahoma State Board of Behavioral Health includes CREOKS on its list of pre-approved continuing education providers, which means that counselors who take these courses are likely to receive approval for renewal. Professionals can learn about important topics like ethical issues in counseling, how to become a clinical supervisor, and treating sexual abuse victims.
- FastCEUs This online continuing education credit provider has courses in a variety of counseling topics, including ADHD in adults, tobacco addiction, hypnotherapy, and trauma counseling. They also have hyper-specialized courses that can help counselors who find themselves in difficult situations, such as a course called "counseling people who have killed other people." This organization occasionally hosts in-person trainings in Oklahoma.
Resources and Professional Organizations for Counselors in Oklahoma
- Oklahoma Mental Health Counselors Association Conference This annual conference affords attendees the opportunity to network with colleagues and learn about special issues affecting Oklahoma's mental health counselors and their patients.
- Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Through this department, counselors can find many of the state resources available to their patients. Professionals can also stay up-to-date on Oklahoma's prevention campaigns.
- OCARTA The acronym for this organization stands for Oklahoma Citizens Advocating for Recovery and Treatment Association. Professionals can benefit from connecting with these passionate citizens and learning from them.
- Oklahoma Eating Disorders Association This nonprofit organization advocates for compassionate treatment of people with eating disorders. Professionals who want to help such patients can learn from the organization's resources and members.
- Oklahoma State Board of Behavioral Health Counseling professionals can turn to this website for information on licensing exams, supervisors, license applications, and continuing education.
- Oklahoma Association for Marriage and Family Therapy As a division of the larger national association, OKAMFT advocates for licenced marriage and family therapists and their patients through continuing education, legislative support, scholarships, and conferences. This organization has many resources specifically for counseling students and new professionals. They also maintain a database of approved supervisors.
- Oklahoma Psychological Association OPA members gain access to the association's listserv, which keeps readers up to date on local counseling issues and helps professionals network. The organization seeks to advance psychology as a science, career, and method of serving others. Members help fund lobbying efforts on behalf of counselors and their patients.
- Oklahoma School Counselor Association Each year, OSCA holds a conference for the school counseling professionals in the state, which is an excellent networking and learning opportunity. Members also gain access to professional development, continuing education, and leadership grants.