What are the Professional Counselor License (LPC) Requirements in Arkansas?

The Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling issues generalist licenses for counselors at two levels, Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Licensed Associate Counselor (LAC). LAC is intended to be a temporary license while you work on experience requirements for the LPC.

The board also issues specialty licenses for counselors with advanced competencies in specialized branches of counseling and therapy.

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Education Requirements

The foundation for both the LAC and LPC is education. You must have a graduate degree that meets Commission on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Program (CACREP) standards.

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The board accepts accreditation from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, the Council on Rehabilitation Education, and the US Department of Education. Some of these accreditations are school level; there are also standards that must be met at the program level. The board notes that these standards are set by professional organizations. You will need a total of 60 semester hours.

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Specific coursework requirements include the following:

  • Professional identity
  • Social and cultural diversity
  • Career development
  • Human growth and development
  • Helping relations and theories
  • Group work
  • Assessment
  • Research and program evaluation
  • Abnormal psychology/ DSM and ICD/ psychopathology
  • Family and relationships
  • Psychopathology

The requirement for each of the above is three semester hours or the equivalent (four quarter hours or forty-five didactic contact hours).

You must also have at least nine semester hour of practicum and/ or internship. Distance learning is accepted as long as it meets the same standards. The application currently asks applicants to note whether specific courses were online or traditional. The Arkansas board expects grades of B or above.

Supervised Practice

If you have education at the master's level, you will work under supervision for three years. An additional 30 semester hours of graduate work can reduce your experience mandate to two years. A total of 60 semester hours of counseling coursework beyond the master's level can reduce it to one year.

Another option for reducing the supervision requirement is taking and passing the NCMHCE. One year of supervised work experience is the minimum for any candidate, however, regardless of experience.

The board considers 1,000 client contact hours to be a year and divides the total time into phases accordingly. Supervision requirements will depend on your current phase. The amount of supervision you will require depends on what phase you are in. You will automatically begin in Phase I, whatever your educational level. (Credit by examination is not an option until after you’ve finished Phase II.)

Your clinical supervisor must be board-approved. The clinical supervisor operates in a different capacity than a clinical supervisor – the board considers it to be a potential conflict of interest if your clinical supervisor is in a position to dismiss you from employment.

You will need to have a supervision plan in place before seeing clients. You will also need to notify the board of proposed changes in supervision. Supervision reports should be filed every six months.

Normally the standard 3,000 hours of supervision takes place over three years, but this can be extended. You are expected to complete all supervised practice requirements within six years. If there are extenuating circumstances that prevent you from doing so, you will need to document these to the board. It will be at the board's discretion whether you can have an extension.

Testing Requirements

You will need to pass both written and oral examinations. A situational exam may be required as well. The written exam for LAC is the NCE, which is contracted through the National Board for Certified Counselors. The Arkansas board also contracts with the NBCC for administration of the NMHCE. You may take the NCMHCE once you’ve completed the second phase of your supervision requirement.

You will need to get authorization from the Arkansas board before you can apply to the NBCC to take either exam.

You may be authorized to take the NCE exam as early as your final semester of graduate studies. You will need to get a letter from a university official that includes your projected graduation date.

Otherwise, you will get your registration form from the Arkansas board after your degree has been conferred. You will fill out the form, sign it in ink, and send it to the NBCC with a $195 fee. It will take about a month for you to be approved to take the exam. Once you have it in hand, you’ll schedule at your choice of locations. You may take the exam in Arkansas in Fayetteville or Little Rock; you may opt instead for a testing center in another state. You’ll need to visit the Applied Measurement Professional site (www.goAMP.com) or call 888-519-9901 to schedule an appointment. Tests are generally administered for two full weeks each month, but spaces do fill.

The Arkansas board will schedule you for an oral exam after receiving your NCE scores, final transcripts, and other required materials. The board may question you about your credentials, statement of intent, and knowledge of the profession. (If you have previously completed an oral exam with the Arkansas board for a different license, you may not be required to do so again.)

If you do not perform satisfactorily on the oral exam, or the board has unresolved questions, they may ask you to complete a situational exam. This could take the form of a live demonstration, CD, DVD, or other technology-assisted demonstration. The board reserves the right to request other documentation in the event of unresolved questions.

The Application Process

Click Here for application forms.

Before applying for licensure, you will need to have a criminal background check. You will need to demonstrate that your are a U.S. citizen or that you have a green card. You will need to submit academic transcripts. You will need to submit three references, two of them by mental health professionals. You can use letters that are on file with placement offices or other boards as long as they're not more than five years old.

Another part of your application is your statement of intent. This is your scope of practice.

Fees should be made out to the Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling. Applications are normally held on file for only twelve months. You may, however, request an extension.

Out of State Applicants

As an out of state applicant, you will be expected to meet substantially similar requirements.

If you are coming from a state that required only 2,000 hours of post-degree supervised practice and you are unable to document an additional 1,000 hours, you will be expected to work as an LAC for a short period of time. If you are licensed in good standing in another state and have had continual licensure for seven years, you can substitute the NCMHCE for 500 hours of your supervised experience. If you have completed post-masters internships or practicums (beyond what is required for licensure), three semester hours will take the place of 100 client contact hours.

If your state required a different licensing exam, it may be accepted for licensing purposes, if it is determined to be equivalent.

You will need to submit license verification from each state where you have held mental health licensure. If you have current sanctions with another board, they will need to be resolved before you can be licensed in Arkansas.

International Applicants

If your degree was earned in another country, you must have your credentialed reviewed by an evaluation agency. You will also need to have application materials translated into English.

Specialist Licenses

As an LPC or LAC, you may be granted a specialist license. These licenses are based on credentialing by a national (or Arkansas) agency, plus board approval and fee payment. Oral examinations may be required in some instances. There are a wide variety of specialties.

  • The Arkansas board accepts any specialist certification granted by the NBCC.
  • The Arkansas board issues Supervision Specialist licenses. You will need three years’ work experience, plus relevant coursework and supervised experience. You will need to file additional paperwork with the board.
  • The Technology-assisted distance counseling specialization requires relevant training. You will need a written plan for meeting the 2005 American Counseling Association Code of Ethics provisions regarding distance counseling. Distance counseling should be included within your statement of intent.
  • You may be granted a Pastoral Counseling specialization if you are credentialed by the American Association of Pastoral Counselors or the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education. (You may be credentialed at one of several levels.)
  • You may earn an Appraisal specialization by meeting the standards of the school psychology specialization of either the Arkansas State Department of Education or the National Association of School Psychologists. You can also meet the requirement by passing the Praxis II School Psychologist Examination.

Other specialties, and applicable credentialing agencies, are as follows:

  • Rehabilitation counseling (credentialing through the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification)
  • Dance therapy (credentialing through the American Dance Therapy Association)
  • Play therapy (credentialing through the Association for Play Therapy)
  • Hypnotherapy (credentialing through the National Board for Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists)
  • Mediation (credentialing through Arkansas Alternative Dispute Resolution)
  • Recreational therapeutic counseling (credentialing through the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification)
  • Applied behavioral analysis (credentialing through National Applied Behavioral Analysis)
  • Drug and alcohol (credentialing through the Arkansas Substance Abuse Certification Board)

The Arkansas board will continue to review specialization requests.

License Maintenance

As a Licensed Professional Counselor, you must renew your license every two years. During this time, you must complete 24 clock hours of continuing education. 22 of the hours must support your statement of intent. Two must be in ethics. Passing scores on an examination may take the place of continuing education units. 10% of renewals will be audited by the board.

You must also file a new statement of intent with the board each renewal period.

Additional Information

If you are still in High School, hold a High School Diploma/GED, or hold a bachelor's degree, check out suggested steps to take along the path to becoming a counselor in Arkansas.

Arkansas Counseling Association

Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling ~You may also reach the board at (870) 901-7055.

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