To gain licensure as a mental health counselor (LMHC) by the Indiana Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board, you'll need to meet several requirements for education, supervised practice, and examination.
The information below will guide you through counseling licensure requirements in Indiana. However, to be certain you are on track, consider contacting the Indiana Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board.
Counseling Careers in Indiana
The growing need for counseling services has sparked an expansion of opportunities for professional licensed counselors in a variety of specializations. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 23% growth in the demand for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors through 2026. Compared to other careers, this rate is much higher than the average job growth. In the same period, the BLS projects the employment of rehabilitation counselors to increase by 13%, due in part to the growing need for rehabilitation services by an aging population and by persons with disabilities.
- Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors: These licensed counselors work in public and private settings with elementary, high school, and college students, as well as with adult learners. Depending on the work environment, they may conduct individual or group sessions that guide students through personal and career decisions.
- Marriage and Family Therapists: These specialized therapists offer services to clients that face a variety of challenges in their personal and family lives -- from marital dissolution to conflicts with children. During a typical day, they may provide couples therapy, family counseling, and individual sessions with clients.
- Rehabilitation Counselors: Clients with disabilities depend on the expertise of rehabilitation counselors to help them navigate everyday life independently. These counselors conduct assessments and connect their clients with resources like assistive technology or wheelchairs.
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: These licensed professionals work with individuals struggling with substance abuse, gambling addictions, mental illness, and behavioral problems. They often work in crisis situations, which can include performing interventions with family members or subduing agitated clients.
- Counselors, All Other: Counselors work in a broad range of settings, including government agencies, outpatient services, and employee assistance programs. Depending on the workplace, they perform an array of services, such as administering behavioral assessments, or conducting individualized and group counseling sessions.
|Occupation||Average Salary in Indiana|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||$50,930|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||$44,920|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||$41,300|
|Counselors, All Other||$52,840|
Indiana regulations allow individuals in related fields to be licensed as professional counselors, as long as they meet all education and experience requirements. The American Art Therapy Association, for example, reports that art therapists can be licensed as counselors in the state of Indiana.
Education Requirements for Counselors
Aspiring counselors must complete a graduate level program in counseling or a related field, plus any additional coursework necessary to meet Indiana content standards. The state licensing board notes that related fields may include human services, clinical social work, psychology, human development, or family relations, though this list is non-exhaustive. Learn more about selecting a master's in counseling program here.
Your master's degree must be at least 60 semester hours (or 72 quarter hours), with a total of at least 48 semester hours in counseling or related fields, including any courses taken outside the degree program. You must have coursework in the following content areas:
- Social and Cultural Counseling Foundations
- Human Growth and Development
- Helping Relationships
- Individual Appraisal and Assessment
- Lifestyle and Career Development
- Professional Orientation and Ethics
- Program Evaluation and Research
- Mental Health Counseling Foundations
- Contextual Dimensions of Mental Health Counseling
- Psychotherapy and Mental Health Counseling Knowledge and Skills
- Clinical Instruction
You will find detailed descriptions of each content area in the application packet.
Your program must also include 1,000 hours of supervised practice, which usually consists of a 100 hour practicum, a 600 hour internship, and a 300 hour advanced internship. You are not required to complete an advanced practicum, however, if the total internship and practicum hours add up to at least 1,000. Post-graduation supervised practice may not count toward this requirement; all supervision must occur as part of your coursework at an educational institution.
You must have at least 100 hours of face-to-face supervision during the course of your practicum and internship experiences.
Acceptable supervisors may include the following:
- Mental Health Counselors
- Marriage and Family Therapists
- Clinical Social Workers
- Psychiatric or Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialists
Online Counseling Programs in Indiana
Convenience and flexibility are among the most important reasons students choose an online master's programs in counseling. For those working full time or juggling childcare or other family responsibilities, distance learning offers an alternative to attending classes at a brick-and-mortar campus. Online counseling degrees deliver the same courses and the same quality education as traditional programs, and they prepare graduates for the same employment opportunities. When selecting a program, keep in mind that many counseling degrees require on-site participation for supervised practicums or internships. Most programs, however, work with their online students to find placements near their homes.
Students interested in online master's programs in Indiana should check with the admissions offices of each school to learn about specific specializations, internship or residency requirements. Indiana Wesleyan University, based in Marion, provides several distance-learning opportunities for graduate degrees in counseling, including a master's in community counseling, school counseling, mental health counseling, and marriage and family therapy. Grace College, located in Winona Lake, offers an online master's of arts in clinical mental health. While coursework is delivered almost completely online, students must attend an annual seven to 10 day on-campus residency in Winona Lake in order to earn their degree.
How Do You Become a Counselor in Indiana?
Counselors must submit an application packet in addition to supporting documentation.
You also need your employer to verify your experience and your supervisor to verify your supervision; each verification requires notarization. You must request that your school(s) send official transcripts. If some courses were taken at a different institution than the one where you earned your master's, you'll need to make sure that these transcripts are sent as well. You must then attach a professional quality head-and-shoulder photograph that measures approximately two inches by two inches. You need to include a $50 application fee.
Some questions on the application pertain to professional fitness. If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, you'll need to include a notarized statement. Other supporting evidence may be included as well.
If your name is different than what appears on your supporting documentation, you'll need to submit an affidavit or notarized copy of a marriage certificate. While the board does not require that you send syllabi, they do note that it can expedite the process. The approval process can, at times, be delayed if applicants need to provide more information to demonstrate that they have met academic requirements.
Click here to access the Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board Mental Health Counselor license application and other materials.
The Indiana Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board administers applications and renewals for most professional counselor licenses required by the state. The board has established different levels of licensing fees to approve and process applications, renewals and verifications. The non-refundable fees must accompany the application. All candidates for licensure must take and pass the counseling exam in their respective fields to be authorized to practice. The board also grants temporary licenses, for an additional fee, to applicants who have fulfilled all requirements except for their counseling exam. The fees for the exam must be paid directly to the testing service, and should not be included with the licensing application fees.
|Application/Issuance Fee for Licensure||$50|
|Temporary Permit Fee||$25|
|Biennial License Renewal Fee||$50|
|Reinstatement of Retired License Fee||$50|
|Verification of License Fee||$20|
The Licensing Exam
You'll need to take the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE), administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. You'll submit your application to the Indiana board, who will then send you registration information upon approval.
You must send your form with an original signature and the required fee to the NBCC, then allow about four weeks for them to approve and send you confirmation. At that point, you schedule an exam at your choice of testing centers. There are four centers in Indiana -- Evansville, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, and Mishawaka -- but you can select a center in another state if you prefer. Exams are typically administered the first two weeks of each month. Your fee gives you a six month scheduling window, but slots do fill quickly. You may register by visiting the AMP website.
The board expects you to take the exam within a year of application. If you do not, you'll need to reapply. If you do not pass the exam on a first attempt, you must submit a Repeat Examination Application. Candidates who do not pass after three attempts need to appear before the board.
LPC Supervised Practice Requirement
You will need to complete 3,000 hours of supervised practice before you can be licensed as a mental health counselor. The supervised practice must be completed within a four-year time frame; however, you cannot fulfill your practice obligations in less than 21 months.
During your period of supervised practice, you'll need 100 hours of face-to-face supervision. Normally, your supervisor(s) will need to verify your experience and supervision and have the verification notarized.
You may complete and notarize the statement if a supervisor has died, cannot be located, or if there is some other good reason that that the supervisor cannot complete this task. You'll also be asked to provide contact information for a colleague who can confirm your statements.
Out of State Candidates - LPC Requirements
If you have ever held a license in any jurisdiction, you must send verification to the board.
Indiana does not license by reciprocity. To be licensed by endorsement, you must show that you have met the same requirements as all other counselors in the state -- with the possible exception of the exam. Indiana code specifies that all mental health counselors must pass the NCMHCE or an exam that is equivalent. The board notes that the NCE (an exam that is used in many states) is not considered equivalent, but that other exams will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Score reports (from the NCMHCE or other exam) should be sent directly to the Indiana board.
To be licensed by endorsement, you'll also need to show that you were actively practicing counseling for at least three of the previous five years, and/or that you hold active license or certification in another state.
You may receive a temporary permit to practice while you are going through the examination process. A temporary permit requires an application and supporting documents, along with the usual application fee and an additional $25. You must verify your licensure or, if you were practicing in a state that did not require licensure, your national certification.
The permit will expire if you do not pass the exam on a first attempt. A temporary permit may be renewed if you were unable to take a scheduled exam “for good cause”, however the board will determine good cause after reviewing a written notice. The notice must be submitted within 30 days of the date the exam was scheduled.
As a candidate for endorsement, you'll also need to pass an Indiana jurisprudence exam. The board will mail it to you after they've reviewed your application.
License Maintenance and Renewal
You will need to renew your license every other year, by March 31 on even-numbered years. During this time period, you must complete 40 hours of continuing education, which includes 20 hours of "formal programming" as defined by the board. At least one of the hours must be in ethics.
You should aim to complete 20 hours a year. If it is your first license renewal, and you have been licensed less than a year, you are not responsible for continuing education. If it is your first renewal, and you have been licensed at least 12 months (but less than 24), you are responsible for 20 hours.
Counselors must retain their continuing education records for four years.
Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Indiana
- Indiana Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Annual Conference: Membership in this affiliate of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy includes access to training workshops and conferences that offer approved continuing education opportunities. The association's annual conference hosts sessions on ethics, theory, and clinical practice applications that earn continuing education units for behavioral health and human services professionals.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness-Indiana: Mental health counselors who attend the NAMI-Indiana Conference may obtain continuing education credits as part of their registration fee. This annual conference gathers together a diverse group of policy makers, practitioners, and the general public. The conference themes focus on policies that address mental health stigma and opportunities for recovery for those living with mental illness.
- Indiana Council of Community Mental Health Centers: This professional trade association represents 25 community-based mental health providers located in each of Indiana's 92 counties.They offer training sessions and webinars throughout the year that are eligible for continuing education credits for licensed mental health counselors. Course topics range from Medicaid coverage for addictions to referral procedures and opioid treatment programs.
Resources for Counselors
- Indiana Addiction Issues Coalition: This nonprofit organization promotes recovery from addiction and mental illness through advocacy, public education, and service. The website provides useful statistics on addiction treatment and recovery, and state and federal legislative updates.
- Indiana School Counselor Association Data Warehouse: School counselors can use this online database for research on school counseling evaluation and accountability. Its downloadable archive includes college and career information and student surveys that measure academic, career, and citizenships standards.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: The SAMHSA website focuses on public health initiatives that address substance abuse and mental illness. Substance abuse and mental health counselors rely on this resource for current statistics, legislative updates, and information on funding opportunities for practitioners and students.
- Indiana Family and Social Services Administration: This site serves as the state's official portal to information about services and programs available to families throughout Indiana. It provides a resource guide explaining the programs available to residents and how to receive assistance.
- Indiana Prevention Resource Center: Administered by Indiana University's Institute for Research on Addictive Behavior, the IPRC provides data on drug use and community tools for prevention. Users of this site can also access demographic data and risk and protective factor statistics.
Professional Organizations for Counselors
- Mental Health America of Indiana: MHAI, established over a century ago, provides addiction and mental health information, and offers direct services to Indiana residents in need of assistance. It promotes diversity and cultural competence in professional training, programs, and treatment relationships. MHAI publishes a newsletter, sponsors an annual mental health and addiction symposium, and operates a legal service center representing clients with disabilities.
- Indiana Counseling Association: ICA membership eligibility embraces all human-service professionals, including school counselors, addictions counselors, mental health counselors, and marriage and family therapists. The association promotes the professional development of all categories of counselors and provides training sessions for continuing education credits, a digital archive of counseling resources, and legislative updates. ICA also sponsors an annual conference.
- Indiana Association of College Admission Counseling: IACAC maintains and improves quality professional standards in the field of college admissions guidance. As an affiliate of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, this association offers membership to Indiana-based counselors working with students to explore opportunities for post-secondary education. IACAC sponsors conferences and maintains a job bank for its members.