A State by State Counselor Guide

Counseling Licensure Requirements in Delaware

If you practice professional counseling in Delaware, you will be licensed as a Licensed Professional Counselor of Mental Health. Professional licensure requires education, examination, certification, and supervised practice. You may practice as a Licensed Associate Counselor of Mental Health while you fulfill experience requirements.

The LPC requirements information provided here will assist you in navigating the counseling license process. It is also a good idea to contact the Board of Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Professionals to make sure you are on the right path and if you have additional questions. Phone: (302) 744-4500 or Email: customerservice.dpr@state.de.us

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Education and Certification

Professional certification is necessary for initial licensure (unless you’re coming from out of state and your credentials have been evaluated by the board of another jurisdiction).

The first step is to complete a graduate degree which meets the standards of a national certifying agency.

If you apply through the National Board for Certified Counselors, you will need to meet the following requirements:

Your degree should include at least 48 hours of graduate accredit, with at least two hours each in the following content areas:

  • Social and cultural foundations
  • Helping relationships
  • Human growth and development
  • Group work
  • Career and lifestyle
  • Appraisal
  • Research and program evaluation
  • Professional orientation to counseling
  • Your degree must also include six semester hours of field experience.

If you get that degree from a CACREP-accredited institution, you may find the licensing process easier, as the NBCC has different standards for those who have completed CACREP-accredited programs (http://www.nbcc.org/Certification-Licensure).

Antioch University offers a new Online MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program that is in the CACREP accreditation process and mirrors the CACREP-accredited program delivered on campus. Specializations in: Substance Abuse and Addictions Counseling (SAAC) and Counseling Military Service Personnel and their Families (MSPF). Click here to contact Antioch University and request information about their programs. Antioch is a private, not-for-profit university. (*This program is NOT available to students in CA, IL, IA, KS, MO, NH, ND)

Learn more about selecting a Master's in Counseling program here.

Testing and Certification Requirements

The certification process includes examination as well as maintenance of professional ethical standards. Typically, candidates take an exam administered by the NBCC and attain NBCC certification. However, the board does allow for other certifying exams to be used as licensing exams if they meet the following requirements:

  • The certifying agency must require education at the master’s level or higher.
  • It must be recognized nationally as a certifying body for counseling
  • The ethics standards of the certifying agency must be similar to those of the NBCC.

NBCC Certification

The NBCC awards the National Certified Counselor credential. In order to be certified, you need to show that you had a pass the National Counselor Examination. You also need to submit transcripts.

If you have not graduated from a CACREP-accredited school, you need to have 3,000 hours of post-master’s supervised experience in order to be certified.

The certifying exam is given around the nation. In Delaware, the location is in Dover. In 2012, it’s administered in April and October.

There are several different versions of the application; what you use will depend on your program and current status. Forms from the NBCC site can be found by clicking here.

If you’re attending a CACREP-accredited program now, you can get an NBCC application from your campus coordinator. You will submit it along with a sealed transcript that shows your degree. If your program was not CACREP-accredited, you’ll also need to submit either proof of licensure or a Verification of Post-master’s Experience and Supervision.

Materials should be sent to NBCC, PO Box 77699, Greensboro, North Carolina 27417-7699.

Make sure to fill out a verification form and pay the required fee. You can, if you choose, fax the form to the NBCC (336) 547-0017.

The NBCC recommends that you communicate with them in writing if you have questions or concerns. You may email, fax, or use the postal service. Contact information can be found at http://www.nbcc.org/Contact .

Applying for Licensure in DE

Until you have completed the requisite supervision hours, you will be licensed as a Licensed Associate Counselor of Mental Health.

Your application packet must include a notarized application form and a processing fee. Click here to download the application. The processing fee is currently $182 for both professional and associate counselors.

Normally you include your social security number on the application. If you have never been issued a number, you fill out and send a Request for Exemption.

You will also need to get your fingerprints done.

Some materials should be sent directly to the board by the agency or institution.

  • You should have the school where you completed your master’s send official transcripts.
  • If you have completed 30 hours of post-master’s education, you should have those sent as well.
  • You will arrange to have the NBCC (or other certifying agency) send your scores.
  • If you have ever been licensed elsewhere, you will need to get verification from the state board(s).

Supervised Practice

You will need to work under supervision until you have accumulated the necessary practice hours (http://dpr.delaware.gov/boards/profcounselors/pcexperience.shtml). The number of hours you need depends on your educational level.

If you have 30 semester hours of post-master’s coursework, you need to complete 1,600 hours. If you don’t have 30 semester hours of post-master’s coursework, you’ll need to do 3,200 hours before you can get your professional license. However, hours don’t all have to be done under the direct supervision of your approved supervisor(s). At least 1,600 must be under the direct supervision of an approved supervisor; if you gain additional counseling hours not under her supervision, she is allowed to verify that in documentation to the board.

The required 1,600 hours must be completed over a period of two to four years. You must have at least 100 hours of face-to-face supervision. At least 60 of the face-to-face hours must be individual (as opposed to group) supervision.

Your approved supervisor may be a mental health counselor, social worker, marriage and family therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. (The board notes that school counselors or school psychologists are not approved as supervisors for mental health counselors.)

You will need to have verification forms sent directly to the board. Your approved supervisor will send a Direct Supervision Reference. You may also need to send a Counseling Experience Verification-Employment and/ or a Counseling Experience Verification-Self-Employment form.

An associate license is good for two years, but may be renewed once.

Out of State Applicants

Out of state applicants may apply for license by reciprocity. If you have at least five years of experience in some other jurisdiction, and you are currently licensed there, you are not required to show that the jurisdiction has licensing requirements that are the same or higher.

If you have fewer years in any jurisdiction, though, you’ll need to demonstrate equivalency. You will submit the following:

  • Verification of licensure
  • Notarized statement of prior jurisdictions
  • A copy of the state’s statutes/ rules for licensing of professional counselors

If you don’t meet the requirements for licensure by reciprocity, you may still meet the requirements for licensure by certification – the traditional path (http://www.dpr.delaware.gov/boards/profcounselors/newlicense.shtml).

If the board determines that educational requirements were substantively equivalent, but experience requirements were not, you may be issued an associate license. You will be given credit for past experience and supervision.

Other Professionals who can be Licensed as Counselors

Professionals in some related fields may be eligible for licensing as professional counselors in Delaware. The American Art Therapy Association reports that Delaware does license art therapists as professional counselors.

Dance/ movement therapists may also be eligible. The NBCC recognizes dance and movement therapy as a branch of counseling and has an application specifically for them. You’ll need to be board certified in this specialty. If you’re a dance and movement therapist, you can get the NBCC application form from the American Dance Therapy Association.

License Maintenance

You must renew your license every two year. It expires on even numbered years.

In order to maintain your Professional Counselor of Mental Health license, you’ll need to do continuing education and maintain your professional certification. You may apply for renewal online at the Division of Professional Regulation site or you may use a paper application. The renewal application, you will attest that you hold certification with the NBCC or other acceptable certifying agency, and that you are in good standing. You will also attest that you have met the continuing education requirements. You are expected to complete 40 clock hours of continuing education each renewal period. If it’s your first renewal, however, the continuing education requirement will be prorated.

In cases of hardship (for example, disability or military service) you can ask for a hardship exception. However, you must make this request before the end of the licensing period. You must send the required licensing fee with your request.

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 Delaware.

You may contact the Division of Professional Regulation by emailing customerservice.dpr@state.de.us or calling (302) 744-4500. Additional contact information can be found at http://www.dpr.delaware.gov/contact.shtml.

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