Counseling Licensing Requirements in Georgia
The process of becoming a counselor involves graduate-level education and a demonstration of good character. To move from associate licensed professional counselor (LAPC) to licensed professional counselor (LPC), you will need to pass an exam and gain supervised work experience. There are both on-campus and online program options available to accommodate student schedules and commitments, and a career in this field can be a fulfilling and rewarding pursuit.
The information provided here is a road map and will give an overview of how to become a licensed counselor in Georgia. All aspects of counseling requirements, from exams to fees to supervised practice, will be covered. Any additional questions regarding the LPC requirements in Georgia should be directed to the Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists.
Counseling Careers in Georgia
It's an exciting time to think about joining the counselor profession as counseling careers are all growing faster than the average, with several expected to grow 23% through 2026. Georgia has one of the highest concentrations of jobs for educational and vocational counselors, and the Atlanta metropolitan area has one of the highest employment levels in the country for these counselors. Below are some of the career paths counseling students can pursue.
- Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors: These counselors work with many different ages, including students in school who need help succeeding and people who require assistance with choosing their careers. Georgia has a high concentration of jobs for these counselors.
- Marriage and Family Therapists: Therapists with this focus assist people with their relationships, which can include navigating problems with their families. Mostly working in private practice and mental health clinics, marriage and family therapists' largest employer is individual and family services.
- Rehabilitation Counselors: Rehabilitation counselors help clients cope and live healthy lives with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. Primarily employed by community rehabilitation services, these counselors may also work in residential care facilities and youth organizations.
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: Working with a variety of concerns including addictions, mental health issues, and eating disorders, counselors may work in treatment facilities or private practice.
- Counselors, All Other: Most counselors are employed by individual and family services, schools, and local and state government. The highest concentrations of these counseling jobs can be found in North Dakota, Louisiana, and Connecticut.
Education Requirements for Counselors
To be licensed, you must hold a master's degree, your program must be primarily about counseling, and the program must hold accreditation by some agency that is recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Additionally, your program must include the theory of counseling or psychotherapy and coursework in at least six of the following content areas:
- Core Foundations or Social and Cultural Foundations
- Human Growth and Development
- Helping Relationships or Advanced Psychotherapy Intervention Theory
- Group Dynamics and Group Psychotherapy/Counseling
- Career and Lifestyle Development
- Research Methods or Research Statistics
- Individual Appraisal
- Professional Orientation
Your education must also include an internship of at least 300 hours. While interning, you must be supervised by the instructor of record. (If the experience was before January 1, 2004, the internship experience may be in applied psychology as opposed to professional counseling.) All the required coursework does not necessarily have to be included as part of your degree. The board will credit you for some graduate coursework that is done before or after the master's. Learn more about selecting a master's in counseling program here.
Online Counseling Programs in Georgia
The Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists regulates the profession in the state, ensuring that potential counselors have the necessary education and training. Education is one of the state's key counselor requirements, and a master's degree is necessary for counseling licensure. Some of the online offerings include Thomas University's online master of science in clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling. Valdosta State University offers an online Ed.S. degree in school counseling, and for those interested in addiction counseling, Albany State University offers an online certificate.
Online programs are generally more flexible and often allow students to complete their coursework at a time that is most convenient for their schedule, especially for those balancing other work and family commitments. Potential counselors can also pursue programs in other states and not be bound by their location. However, most online counseling programs still require students to complete practicums, though they can often be completed in the student's local area.
How Do You Become a Counselor in Georgia?
Before you can become an associate professional counselor, you must submit a notarized application to the board. Your application package must include a transcript from your master's program; test scores; two professional references; internship verification; a contact affidavit completed by your employer and the person who will be supervising you while you attain your practice hours; and a nonrefundable processing fee. All materials should be addressed and mailed to the Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists.
Georgia counseling licensure requires applicants to pay a fee. All licensure applications are $100, and the fee must be included with the application. Renewal fees are also $100, and all licenses expire on September 30 of even-numbered years. Licensed counselors from other states must also pay the same application fee as those applying by examination, and additional fees are charged for duplicate licenses, licensure verification, and licensure reactivation. Any required licensing examinations will also charge a fee, but it is generally paid when registering for the exam.
|Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)||$100|
|Associate Licensed Professional Counselor (LAPC)||$100|
|Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)||$100|
|Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (AMFT)||$100|
|Licensure by Endorsement Application Fee||$100|
|Licensed Professional Counselor Renewal||$100|
|Associate Licensed Professional Counselor Renewal||$100|
|Marriage and Family Therapist Renewal||$100|
|Associate Marriage and Family Therapist Renewal||$100|
|Late Renewal Fee||$150|
|Duplicate or Replacement License||$25|
|License Reactivation (on inactive status for less than 5 years)||$150|
|License Reinstatement (on inactive status for more than 5 years)||$350|
|Licensure Verification Fee||$35|
The Licensing Exam
You will need to take the National Counselor Examination (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) to become licensed in Georgia. Both exams are available from the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). Georgia uses the computer-based version which is available at sites all over the nation and is generally offered the first two weeks of each month. In Georgia, you can take the exam in Decatur, Lilburn, Marietta, Macon, or Savannah.
You must get approval by applying to the board, and then you will send in your registration along with a fee (currently $195). After about four weeks you will get confirmation from the NBCC. Once you receive it, you may register at your choice of testing centers.
LPC Supervised Practice Requirement
You will need to practice under supervision before you can obtain licensure as a professional counselor. The amount of work experience required depends on your educational background. Those with a doctorate in a program that is primarily counseling will have one year of internship, while those with a master's may need up to four years of supervised practice. You may, however, get credit for up to a year of practicum experience completed prior to degree completion. If you have a specialist degree in counseling that includes an internship, you'll need at least two years of supervised practice, and if your master's is in vocational counseling, you'll need three years.
While employed as an associate licensed counselor, you'll have both an employer (known as a director) who handles administrative tasks and makes sure you're competent at what you do and a supervisor who has met board standards. In addition to offering you guidance, the supervisor evaluates your performance for licensure purposes. You can find a list of certified supervisors on the site of Licensed Professional Counselors Association (LPCA) of Georgia.
LPC Requirements for Out-of-State Candidates
You can get licensure by endorsement if you hold a license in a state that has requirements that are either very similar or higher. You won't need to take the exam in Georgia, but you will need to verify that your license is in good standing. You can download Form N from the site and send it your former state board for verification.
License Maintenance and Renewal
You will need to do 35 clock hours of continuing education every two years; at least five will need to be in professional ethics, and at least fifteen of the remaining hours must be core. Up to fifteen can be in a field that's related to professional counseling, but has different licensing and standards.
Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Georgia
- Licensed Professional Counselors Association of Georgia: In addition to operating as a professional organization, the LPCA is an NBCC-approved education provider. LPCA has a calendar of CE events, including several free workshops.
- Anxiety and Stress Management Institute: Located in Marietta, Georgia, the institute offers anxiety and stress management services, as well as resources and workshops. Workshops from this NBCC-approved continuing education provider are generally offered several times a month, including Saturdays. Counselors can receive a multi-workshop discount for registering for two or more workshops at once.
- Cornerstone Counseling Services: Cornerstone Counseling offers services including counseling for individuals, couples, and children. It is also an NBCC-approved continuing education provider, and several online courses are available. In-person continuing education workshops are available on Saturdays and Sundays.
Resources for Counselors
- CDC Training and Continuing Education Online: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers nearly 500 online courses on topics such as health equity and the status of Georgia health priorities. Courses are searchable and CE certificates are available.
- Alcohol and Drug Abuse Certification Board of Georgia: ADACBGA provides information on certifications, ethics, and exams. It also offers a job board, continuing education providers list, and an annual conference. Counselors can also view current and past newsletters.
- Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists: The board is responsible for regulating the fields of counseling, social work, and marriage and family therapy. Current and future counselors can find information about the licensure application process and fees, and applicants can check the status of their application.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Georgia: NAMI provides education about a variety of mental illnesses, lists of Georgia support groups, and an annual conference. NAMI's mission is to help those affected by mental illness by providing support, advocacy, and education.
- NBCC Approved Education Providers - Georgia: Counselors can search for NBCC-approved continuing education providers on this site. The list of providers can be searched and organized by location, and live and home-study providers are noted.
Professional Organizations for Counselors
- Licensed Professional Counselors Association of Georgia: The LPCA brings together Georgia LPCs and future LPCs and represents their interests to state legislators and the state licensing board. The association provides CE opportunities, training programs, and hosts a yearly convention. Member benefits include discounts on insurance, free workshops, and professional resources. Membership rates vary with special pricing for students and associate LAPCs.
- Georgia Addiction Counselors Association: GACA boasts over 650 members and seeks to help their members by developing their counseling skills. The organization offers certification information, lists of educational providers, events, and a job board. Membership is available at several different rates, including a half-price student rate, and state members also receive membership in the National Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC).
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy - Georgia Division: The professional association for licensed marriage and family therapists supports these therapists and provides leadership. The Georgia division offers regional chapters across the state and provides conferences, continuing education, and legislative updates. There are several membership levels, and members receive special insurance rates, marketing, and discounts on certain products and events.