Rehabilitation counselors help clients with mental, physical, and developmental disabilities. They design treatment plans that promote greater independence, connect clients with state resources, and work with individuals to overcome challenges. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 3,000 rehabilitation counselors work in Virginia.
Virginia rehabilitation counselors must hold a professional license. Licensure requirements include a master's degree in counseling, a supervised residency, and a passing score on the National Clinical Mental Health Counselors Examination. This guide covers how to become a rehabilitation counselor in Virginia.
Counseling License and Career Requirements in VirginiaExplore more pathways to becoming a counselor in Virginia here
Education and Experience Requirements
Prospective licensed professional counselors in Virginia must meet the state's education and experience requirements. Virginia sets 13 core competency areas for counselors and requires a graduate internship and a supervised residency after graduation. The Virginia Board of Counseling provides additional information on education and experience requirements.
Education and Coursework
Rehabilitation counselors need a master's degree or higher in counseling from a program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. Virginia also accepts other graduate degrees in counseling from regionally accredited institutions if the program meets Virginia counseling standards. Standards include a curriculum designed to adequately prepare counselors, counselor training faculty made up of licensed professional counselors, and coursework that meets core and specialty requirements.
Rehabilitation counselors need a master's degree or higher in counseling from a program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
Virginia mandates 13 core competency areas, including professional counseling ethics, theories of counseling, psychotherapy techniques, human growth and development, and career counseling. Qualified degrees must include 60 semester credits (or 90 quarter credits) covering these 13 areas. During their graduate counseling program, students must also complete a supervised 600-hour internship, including a minimum of 240 hours of direct client contact. Graduate students who complete more than 600 hours can apply up to 300 hours toward the state's supervised residency requirement.
After completing a qualifying degree, rehabilitation counselors must apply for a supervised residency through the board. Rehabilitation counselors must also pass an exam. Learn more about counseling degrees and career paths by visiting this site.
Interested in pursuing an education in school counseling? Check out the following pages to explore available academic programs by level:
Practicum and Internship
In addition to the 600-hour supervised internship, candidates for a Virginia counseling license must meet supervised residency requirements after graduating. Virginia mandates 3,400 hours of a supervised residency in counseling practice, including at least 2,000 hours of direct client contact. Candidates must complete these residency hours within four years of receiving board approval.
Application and Exam Requirements for Virginia Rehabilitation Counselors
After meeting Virginia's education and experience requirements, licensure candidates must submit an application to the Virginia Board of Counseling. Virginia offers two pathways to a professional counselor license: licensure by endorsement for candidates with a counseling license in another state and licensure by examination for those who have never held a professional counseling license.
Candidates for licensure by examination must meet education and supervised residency requirements before submitting their application. Once approved by the board, candidates can sit for the examination. Virginia accepts one examination for licensure: the National Clinical Mental Health Counselors Examination. The board receives scores 4-6 weeks after the exam and grants licenses to candidates who pass.
Out-of-state Rehabilitation Counselor Candidates
Virginia offers a licensure-by-endorsement option for out-of-state rehabilitation counselor candidates. Candidates must hold a valid professional license in another state and meet additional requirements, including recent active practice or commensurate education and supervision experience.
Applicants must submit a $175 application fee, verification of all counseling licenses and certifications, and official transcripts. Candidates must also document their education and supervision experience, verify passing scores on an examination required for licensure in the candidate's state, and verify their post-licensure clinical active practice.
Rehabilitation Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements
Licensed professional counselors in Virginia must renew their license annually. Licenses expire on June 30 each year. To renew their license, counselors need 20 hours of continuing education, with a minimum of two hours in counseling ethics, standards of practice, or Virginia laws for behavioral science professions. Virginia waives continuing education requirements for newly licensed professional counselors who obtained their license by examination. The board conducts random audits to ensure counselors meet their continuing education requirements.
Licensed professional counselors in Virginia must renew their license annually
Resources and Organizations for Rehabilitation Counselors in Virginia
Virginia rehabilitation counseling students and professionals can benefit from joining professional organizations. These organizations offer networking opportunities, research, and career guidance. Rehabilitation counselors can also access resources offered by state departments to connect clients with services.
- American Rehabilitation Counseling Association ARCA represents rehabilitation counselors across the country, offering research, professional development tools, and networking opportunities through conferences and events. The association also hosts student chapters.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness Virginia NAMI Virginia provides professional resources for mental health counselors in the state, including advocacy training programs, presentations, and data on mental health in Virginia.
- Virginia Assistive Technology System A state program, VATS provides affordable assistive and information technologies and services to Virginians with disabilities.
- Virginia Board of Counseling The Virginia Board of Counseling grants licenses and certifications to counselors. It also provides resources on licensure and renewal.
- Virginia Certification Board The Virginia Certification Board is a nonprofit organization that issues voluntary credentials for behavioral health professionals, including certified peer recovery specialist and certified clinical supervisor credentials. The board also creates ethical standards for counselors.
- Virginia Counselors Association Virginia's professional association for counselors, VCA provides resources for counseling students, offers professional development tools, and hosts an annual conference with networking opportunities. VCA also provides state licensure information.
- Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services This organization oversees multiple departments and offices dedicated to rehabilitative services. Its website provides information on grants, special programs, and resources for Virginians with disabilities.
- Virginia Department of Health The Virginia Department of Health provides information on health topics, including resources for individuals with disabilities. VDH also offers child and family health services.
- Virginia Division of Rehabilitative Services This organization offers vocational rehabilitation programs, including employment and transition services.
- Virginia Office for Disability Programs Part of the Virginia Division for Community Living, the Virginia Office for Disability Programs administers programs that support individuals with disabilities.