Counseling Licensure Requirements in Rhode Island

Mental health counseling is a growing field throughout the country and in Rhode Island. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of mental health counselors is projected to grow much faster than the average occupation in the U.S. — the BLS projects a 23% increase in this field between 2016 and 2026. To become a licensed professional counselor (LPC) in Rhode Island, you must qualify for either a clinical mental health counselor or marriage and family therapist license. 

In the guide below, you can find out about different types of counseling careers, education requirements, and license renewal procedures. Read on to learn more about how to become a counselor in Rhode Island.

Counseling Careers in Rhode Island

The type of counseling job you pursue can impact where you work, the types of client you treat, and the services you provide. The following section talks about the different counselor careers available in Rhode Island.

How Much Do Counselors Make in Rhode Island?

Salaries for counselors vary based on their specialization and geographic location. In the table below, you can compare median salaries in Rhode Island with the rest of the country for different counselor occupations. This information can help you decide which counseling specialization to pursue. Note that the BLS combines wage data for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors.

Education Requirements for Counselors in Rhode Island

Education and Coursework

Education credentials are a vital requirement when preparing to become a mental health counselor. To apply for counselor licensure in Rhode Island, a candidate must hold a master's degree from a program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or an equivalent accrediting agency approved by the state board.

To apply for counselor licensure in Rhode Island, a candidate must hold a master's degree

An aspiring LPC may also meet the state's educational requirements with a certificate in advanced graduate studies or a doctoral degree in mental health counseling issued by a recognized educational institution. The state also accepts candidates with a graduate degree in a related field or graduate-level coursework equivalent to a master's degree in mental health counseling.

Applicants must complete at least 60 graduate-level credits before beginning supervised casework and postgraduate experiences. Candidates for a mental health counseling license in Rhode Island must complete core curriculum courses with a certain number of credits in specific categories. Applicants must earn nine credits related to helping relationships and counseling theory and three credits in each of the following categories: human growth and development, social and cultural foundations, groups, lifestyle and career development, appraisal, research and program evaluation, and professional orientation.

Practicum and Internship

Rhode Island also requires students to complete an educational practicum and an internship to qualify for licensure. Candidates must complete 12 semester credits of a supervised practicum and a one-year supervised internship, consisting of 20 hours per week. Applicants may also undergo a CACREP-approved internship and practicum.

Online Counseling Programs in Rhode Island

You can become a licensed counselor in Rhode Island after earning an online degree. Candidates may complete education requirements for licensure at any recognized educational institution, which includes colleges and universities accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education or an equivalent regional accrediting agency.

Students can earn an online mental health counseling degree from an out-of-state school to meet the state's educational requirements

Candidates can meet educational requirements by earning a graduate degree in a mental health-related field or by completing graduate-level coursework equivalent to a master's degree in mental health counseling. For example, Johnson & Wales University offers an online master of science degree in organizational psychology. Students can also earn an online mental health counseling degree from an out-of-state school to meet the state's educational requirements.

How to Become a Licensed Professional Counselor in Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, the Board of Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists issues licenses to individuals who qualify to become a licensed professional counselor. To be considered, a candidate must submit an application 30 days prior to the scheduled date of a board meeting. At least four members of the nine-member board must approve the application at a regular board meeting. 

Beyond education and internship hours, Rhode Island also requires individuals to accrue postgraduate experience for licensure. Applicants must complete at least two years of relevant postgraduate experience, including 2,000 hours of direct client contact and 100 hours of supervised casework during that two-year period. Aspiring LPCs must also successfully pass the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification or another board-approved exam. 

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Out-of-state Counselor Candidates

You can work as an LPC in Rhode Island after receiving licensure in another state. Unlike some states, Rhode Island offers licensure by endorsement for out-of-state counselors and marriage and family therapists.

The state may issue a license to a candidate after receiving approval from the board if the candidate is currently licensed or certified in another state. The applicant's out-of-state license must exceed or meet Rhode Island's requirements. While these individuals do not need to complete an additional examination for licensure endorsement, they must hold a qualifying degree awarded by a CACREP-accredited program in mental health counseling.

Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal in Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, licenses for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists last 24 months, expiring on July 1 of the first even-numbered year after a license has been issued. When researching how to become a counselor in Rhode Island, learning about license expiration and renewal procedures can help you remain in good standing.

To renew a license, candidates must pay a renewal fee and submit an application. They also need to complete 40 continuing education credits related to mental health counseling or marriage and family therapy within each two-year renewal period. Candidates must complete continuing education credits through board-approved programs.

Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Rhode Island

  • Ethics for Counselors NetCE provides courses approved by the state's Department of Health to meet counseling requirements in Rhode Island, including this six-hour exploration of ethics and behavior for counseling professionals. Accredited by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), the program costs $19.
  • New England Addiction Technology Transfer Center Part of Brown University's School of Public Health, this organization offers several continuing education opportunities to mental health counselors, all of which are approved by the NBCC. Options include online classes with instructors, virtual self-paced courses, webinars, and live events.

Resources and Professional Organizations for Counselors in Rhode Island

  • Mental Health Association of Rhode Island An affiliate of Mental Health America, MHARI works to prevent mental illness and promote mental health through advocacy and education. The organization's site includes resources for counselors, such as the Rhode Island Mental Health Tool Kit.
  • State of Rhode Island Department of Health The official state agency responsible for licensing counselors, Rhode Island's Department of Health provides counseling licensure information and applications for initial licenses or renewal.
  • State of Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals This state agency deals with behavioral health and offers help to counselors, including licensing details and access to public records.
  • The Substance Use and Mental Health Leadership Council of RI SUMHLC promotes a coordinated system of statewide, community-based mental healthcare and substance abuse prevention programs. The organization hosts trainings, offers workforce development, and provides technical assistance and information.
  • Rhode Island Mental Health Advocate This independent state agency provides access to education and legal help focused on Rhode Island's mental health laws. The organization's attorneys offer free investigative, legal, and advocacy services.
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness Rhode Island This organization focuses on support, education, and advocacy concerning mental illness. Members benefit from events, networking opportunities, and continuing education. They can attend a national convention and access periodicals and reports.
  • Rhode Island Mental Health Counselors Association A state organization representing licensed mental health counselors, RIMHCA offers an array of resources and services to its professional members. These include training opportunities, networking events with other state counselors, advocacy on behalf of the profession, and legislative updates.
  • Rhode Island School Counselor Association This organization connects professional school counselors from around the state through advocacy, continuing education programs, events, and support services. School counselors can also attend RISCA's fall conference and use the organization's website to link to professional development courses offered by the American School Counselor Association.
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