Counseling Licensing Requirements in Arizona
In Arizona, counselors can become licensed associate counselors at the early stages of practice and licensed professional counselors once all requirements are met. Both credentials are issued by the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners to qualified individuals 21 and older. Professional counselors, mental health counselors, substance abuse counselors, social workers, and marriage and family therapists are also licensed by the Arizona Board of Health Examiners. The process begins with graduate level education.
Below are mandatory requirements for Arizona counseling licensure to become a licensed professional counselor in Arizona. Contact the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners with questions about eligibility as well as related questions.
Counseling Careers in Arizona
Professionals with Arizona counseling licensure can find careers in many areas related to counseling. Counselors may work in medical facilities, rehabilitation centers, and in schools. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment for counselors is expected to rise over the next decade, with specializations in mental health counseling and marriage and family counselor employment increasing by up to 23% from 2016 to 2026. Each field of counseling offers its own set of professional challenges and many require different forms of certification and licensure. Like with many careers, the higher level of education obtained, the more specialized opportunities and advancements become available.
- Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors: Counselors in this field frequently work in schools, including elementary and high school. These counselors help students reach educational goals and young professionals achieve personal goals.
- Marriage and Family Therapists: Marriage therapists work with couples to create amicable solutions to their problems, while family counselors have a broader view on solving familial problems as a whole unit.
- Rehabilitation Counselors: These counselors work with individuals struggling to overcome mental and behavioral disabilities. Often, these individuals struggle to achieve personal, career, and relationship goals that licensed counselors advise and help with.
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: Counselors in this field work with patients struggling with a history of mental health issues, including substance abuse and bipolar disorder.
- Counselors, All Other: Counseling is a broad field. Counselors who posses licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) licensure have additional flexibility in their work as they may open their own practice.
|Occupation||Average Salary in Arizona|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||$53,160|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||$64,480|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||$42,100|
|Counselors, All Other||$50,000|
Education Requirements for Counselors in Arizona
Your program must include 60 semester hours (or 90 quarter hours). It should be accredited by CACREP or CORE. If it was, you'll simply note the date that it got its accreditation on your application. If it wasn't, you'll need to demonstrate that the program included material in eight core content areas:
- Professional Orientation and Ethical Practice
- Social and Cultural Diversity
- Human Growth and Development
- Career development
- Helping Relationship
- Group Work
- Research and Program Evaluation
The requirements are usually a three-semester-hour course in each topic area. Many of these competency areas are further broken down into sub-competencies. Human growth and development must cover theories regarding development and life transitions of individuals and families as well as theories of personality development and learning. Career development must include career development theories and career decision processes. Group work must include group dynamics, group leadership styles and approaches, and theories of group counseling.
Counseling theory must cover at least five of these seven theories:
- Cognitive Behavioral
- Psychoanalytic and Neopsychoanalytic
- Rational and Emotive
- Brief Solution Focused
- Person Centered
The practicum requirement is 700 clock hours total in a professional counseling setting. You must be supervised by a faculty member and an approved on-site supervisor. Applicants for licensure who received a master's or higher degree before July 1, 1989, who did not complete a practicum must substitute additional post-master's supervision for the practicum requirement.
The required courses together add up to less than 60 semester hours. In addition to the required courses, your program may include additional coursework in a variety of areas including crisis intervention, human sexuality, rehabilitation counseling, and counseling special populations.
Any academic deficiencies prior to completing your practicum can be made up for with post-master coursework. You may be able to work under a temporary license while awaiting licensure. Applicants with criminal history or a history of disciplinary action need to have their application approved by the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners.
Online Counseling Programs in Arizona
To become a counselor in Arizona, you must have at least earned a master's degree in counseling. At the beginning of their career, counselors in this state are classified as licensed associate counselors (LAC). After meeting the LAC requirements, Arizona counselors may apply to receive licensure as a licensed professional counselor (LPC). Both credentials are awarded by the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health examiners.
All licensure examinations follow the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) standard National Counselor Examination format and may be completed online or at a testing center in Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff, Chandler, or Tempe. Vocational counselors may take the CORE exam instead. Arizona also requires all future counselors to complete a 700 hour practicum under the supervision of a licensed counselor prior to applying for licensure.
Arizona accepts online degrees from any accredited institution so long as the curriculum meets content requirements, such as classwork related to human growth and development, counseling theories, and chemical dependency.
How Do You Become a Counselor in Arizona?
Click here to view and print the LAC and LPC applications from the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners website. The application process involves several steps, including submission of a fingerprint card or fingerprint clearance card.
You'll also need to complete a self-query from the National Practitioner Data Bank Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank. You'll receive the query in a sealed envelope to be submitted with your application. The board must receive the query within 90 days of its processing date.
Plan to obtain an official, sealed transcript, a verification of your practicum, and a sealed copy of your licensing test scores.
A photo of your driver's license, Social Security card, or other government ID and a residency form affirming your right to work in Arizona is also required.
A behavioral health licensing form and a supplement specific to counseling needs to be filled out accurately.
You will need to send a $250 fee with all of the application materials above to the following address: Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners, 3443 North Central Avenue, Suite 1700, Phoenix, AZ 85012.
You may call the board if you have any questions; be sure to leave your name, address, and type of application needed.
To become a counselor in Arizona, there are a number of fees associated in obtaining licensure. All practicing counselors must pay base fees, such as the testing fees, and the cost of the license itself. Some examinations cost more than others and certain specializations may require additional testing. Before registering to obtain licensure in this state, it can be helpful to know the various requirements and associated fees mandated for your field. The below chart provides an overview of many fees associated with becoming a licensed counselor in Arizona.
|Application for License by Endorsement||$250|
|Licensed Professional Counselor||$250|
|Associate Licensed Counselor||$100|
|Licensed Professional Counselor Renewal||$350|
|Duplicate or Replacement License||$25|
|Fingerprint Background Check||$40|
|Application for Approval of an Educational Program||$500|
|Application for Temporary License||$50|
The Licensing Exam
You must pass an exam before you can be licensed. Typically, the exam taken is the NBCC's National Counselor Examination.
Arizona uses the computer based version of the exam. According to the NBCC's NCE Arizona supplement, candidates receive a confirmation of registration from the Arizona board four weeks after submitting a payment of $275. At that point, you can schedule an exam at an NBCC testing center in Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff, Chandler, or Tempe.
Arizona also accepts the CORE exam for licensure purposes, but this exam is specific to vocational counselors.
LPC Supervised Practice Requirements
Before earning the title of licensed professional counselor, you must acquire two years of full-time work under the supervision of a licensed counselor. Though typically done in an employee capacity, a post-master's internship may also fulfill the requirement, pending approval.
An Arizona Board licensed professional counselor, clinical social worker, substance abuse counselor, and marriage and family therapist are accepted supervisor roles. If you were supervised in a different workplace, you must file a request for exemption and provide supporting documentation.
Out of State Candidates - LPC Requirements
You may be eligible for a reciprocal license in Arizona if you meet the following requirements:
- You have been licensed as a professional counselor for a minimum of five years.
- Your license is active and in good standing.
- You worked at least 6,000 hours in counseling during the five year period before application for licensure in Arizona.
- You met the minimum standards for education, experience, and/or supervision of the state in which you are currently licensed.
- You meet Arizona's counseling standards for education, experience, and supervision.
- You passed Arizona's licensing exam.
If you have ever held a state license in any profession, you will need to mail a verification form to that municipality before sending in your licensing application.
Working Under a Reciprocal License
While working under a reciprocal license, you are restricted from running a private practice. After working at least 1,600 hours over a period of at least a year, with a minimum of 50 hours of clinical supervision, you may apply for standard Arizona licensure. The licensure application requires verification of supervised work experience in Arizona, as well as a $275 fee.
License Maintenance and Renewal
In order to maintain an active license, you will need to complete 30 contact hours of continuing education every two years. The 30 hours must include three clock hours each of mental health law or behavioral health ethics and cultural competency and diversity. Maintain documentation of your continuing education for four years after your license is renewed for an easier application process.
You must submit a signed application form and a money order, certified check, or cashier's check. On the form, you must attest that you are in compliance with, or exempt from, patient records regulations, as well as reaffirm your citizenship and residency status.
Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Arizona
- @Health: Provided online, these continued education courses are specific programs for both licensed associate counselors and licensed professional counselors in Arizona. All programs are approved by the American Psychological Association. Potential courses include ethics and risk management in counseling, evidence based interventions for children and adolescents, and cultural competence.
- Arizona Trauma Institute: This institute works with companies, organizations, and professionals to provide training in trauma care. Courses teach individuals the best practices for working with victims of trauma, with classes and seminars available in person and online. The Arizona Trauma Institute is approved by NBCC to grant continued education opportunities for licensed counselors.
- CE4Less.com: This website is devoted to offering continued education opportunities for counselors across the U.S. Classes include therapeutic communities, ethics and boundary issues, and mandatory abuse reporting. CE4Less provides a free verification screening to ensure that a given program is accepted by the Arizona licensing boards prior to enrollment in a course.
Resources for Counselors
- Arizona Children's Association: The Arizona Children's Association provides children access to behavioral health and trauma counseling in addition to providing family counseling. Counselors and students can take classes and attend seminars specific to working with children, adolescents, and families.
- Arizona Counselors Association: The AzCA has been approved by the NBCC as an approved continuing education provider for counselors. AzCA also provides information regarding licensure and additional certifications to members.
- Dr. Karen McCleskey, LPC: A respected counselor in the Southwestern states, Dr. McCleskey created a series of ongoing education opportunities for counselors and counseling students. Education is offered in the form of seminars, classes, and networking opportunities.
- Argosy University, Phoenix - Clinical and Mental Health Department: With both physical and online campuses, Argosy offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs in clinical psychology.
- Arizona State University - Counseling and Psychology: ASU offers a bachelor's, master's, and a doctoral degree in counseling. Licensed professionals may also attend networking events sponsored by the psychology department.
Professional Organizations for Counselors
- American Counseling Association: This nonprofit, professional, educational organization is devoted to expanding the counseling professional nationwide. Founded in 1952, the ACA represents the largest national counseling association in the world.
- American Mental Health Counselors Association: Members of this association have access to a broad network of practicing mental health professionals around the country. The AMHCA also provides a number of opportunities in continued education, networking, published journals, and discounted private insurance.
- American College Counseling Association: ACCA strives to be an inclusive professional base for counseling professionals. Members have access to continued education, seminars, and networking events. An ACCA membership also provides a subscription to the Journal of College Counseling.