Licensed Counselor Requirements in New Mexico

New Mexico licenses counselors at multiple levels. You can become a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LPC or LMHC) by fulfilling education and examination requirements.

You will become a Licensed Professional Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LPCC), after you have met supervised experience requirements and passed an additional exam.

The information provided below serves as a guide to counseling licensure in New Mexico. To make sure you are on the right path as you complete the requirements, you may contact the New Mexico Counseling and Therapy Practice Board at (505)-476-4622.

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Required Education

Either counseling license will require you to complete a degree at the master's level or higher. Your degree may be in counseling or a related field.

The board lists agency counseling, mental health community counseling, art therapy, human and family studies, psychology, counseling psychology, and clinical psychology as related degrees. The LMHC application also lists “art education with an art therapy major” among the options.

If your degree is not in counseling, but in one of the above fields, you must demonstrate that it meets the following core curriculum requirements. You must have three semester hours, or four quarter hours, in each of the following:

  • Human growth and development
  • Social and cultural foundations
  • Helping relationships
  • Group work
  • Research methods
  • Career and lifestyle development
  • Appraisal
  • Professional orientation
  • You will also need nine semester hours (or the equivalent) of practicum and internship.

The remaining twelve units are clinical electives -- they should develop your skills in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses. The board offers, among the examples of appropriate coursework, psychopathology, psychopharmacology, treatment planning, and clinical theory and practice.

You may complete additional graduate courses if your degree program had fewer than the 48 required.

New Mexico has CACREP-accredited programs at New Mexico State University and the University of New Mexico. There is also a combined art therapy/ counseling program at Southwestern College.

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). 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.

Licensing Examinations

The required exam for LMHC is the National Counselor Examination, or NCE. The required exam for LPCC is the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination, or NCMHCE. LMHCs with an art therapy major are expected to pass the Art Therapy Credentialing Board Examination.

Both the NCE and the NMHCE are administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors, and the registration process is very similar. You will need to get approval from the New Mexico board to sit for exams. You will receive a registration form from the board Click Here for the form.

Make sure the registration form is signed in ink, and send it to the NBCC along with a $195 fee. It typically takes four weeks from the time your fee clears to get your confirmation from the NBCC.

If you have all licensing requirements except the examination, you may practice under a temporary license, issued by the New Mexico board (View this criteria at: Make sure to complete all steps early, though -- the NBCC reports that you must take the exam at least a month before your temporary license expires. (Also make sure you have current information, as fees are subject to change.)

The NBCC contracts with Pearson VUE for administration of computer-based exams. You may call AMP at 866-904-4432 or register online at

Examinations are administered in New Mexico in Albuquerque. However, there are Pearson VUE testing centers throughout the nation, and you may select another location if you prefer.

Exams are given over a two week period each month. Seats are limited, and they do fill.

Working Under Supervision as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor

You will need to complete 3,000 hours of supervised practice over a period of at least two years. During this time, you will need at least 100 hours of face to face supervision. Your supervisor may be a clinical mental health counselor, art therapist, marriage and family therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or independent social worker. You will work under a supervision plan. Appropriate supervision is key to having your experience accepted and moving up to the higher level of licensing.

During your period of supervised work experience, you will have status as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor.

The Application Process

The application process is very similar whether you’re applying for Licensed Mental Health Counselor or Licensed Professional Clinical Mental Health Counselor. You will fill out an application and including multiple supporting documents :

  • Click Here for the Form
  • You should request that your transcripts be sent to you; you will then include them with your application in a sealed envelope.
  • If your degree was in a related field, you'll need to fill out attachment E and include syllabi and course descriptions.
  • Your prospective supervisor will need to fill out some paperwork as well – what is required will depend on the licensing you seek. If you’re applying for LMHC, your supervisor will need to provide the state with some basic information. If you're applying for LPCC status, you will get your supervisor to verify your experience. Either way, you’ll find what you need in the application packet; your supervisor will return the form to you in a sealed envelope which you will include with your application.
  • You will need to attest that you have read the code of ethics.
  • You'll include a recent photo.
  • If you have any legal or disciplinary history, you'll need to attach supporting documentation.
  • You will need to include a $75 nonrefundable fee with your application.
  • Make sure to have your application notarized before mailing it.

Materials may be sent to the following address:

New Mexico Counseling and Therapy Practice Board
Practice Board PO Box 25101
Santa Fe, NM 87505

Out of State Applicants

If you have had a license in good standing in some other municipality for the past five years, you are eligible for licensure by reciprocity. You will also need to show that you have a master’s or doctorate degree.

If you don't meet the above licensing requirement, you'll need to go through the regular licensing process.

If you have been licensed elsewhere, you’ll need to send documentation of your licensure.

Emergency Licensure

Professional counselors licensed elsewhere may apply for emergency licensure in New Mexico if they are affected by a national disaster. Licensure is free during the four months following the declaration of disaster.

If you’re in this situation, you’re expected to provide the usual documentation of qualifications, but you may make a sworn affidavit if the disaster renders it impossible to obtain some documents.

Other Professionals who can be Licensed as Counselors

New Mexico licenses practitioners in some related fields. Art therapy is officially recognized as a specialty.

As an art therapist, you begin with LMHC status, as do more traditional mental health counselors. Then your path diverges. After completing all requirements, you can be licensed as a Professional Art Therapist.

If you're applying for LMHC with an art therapy major, you will fill out Attachment F: "Art Therapy Core Curriculum for LMHC".

License Maintenance

You will need to do 40 contact hours of continuing education every two years to maintain your professional license. You must submit documentation when you renew your license.

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 New Mexico.

You can call the New Mexico Counseling and Therapy Practice Board at (505)-476-4622.

If you want to be apprised of updates, you can add yourself to the notification list Here.

References: New Mexico Administrative Code (, ( - Emergency Licensure

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