In order to become a mental health counselor in New York, you'll need to have a qualifying education, passing exam scores, and a background that the board considers indicative of good character. You will also need to fulfill supervision requirements under standards set by the state of New York. While you are fulfilling your supervision requirement, you will work under a limited permit.
The information here is designed as a guide to help navigate the counselor licensure process and counseling requirements in New York. If at any point you have questions or just want to make sure you are on the right track, contact the New York State Board for Mental Health Practitioners.
Counseling Careers in New York
A licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC) has their pick of a vast array of careers in a field that is booming with opportunities. The need for counselors is projected to increase quicker than in any other occupation according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Counseling is a fulfilling career path for people who want to help make a difference in the lives of others. As the aging population increases and school enrollment goes up, counselors are needed in a variety of settings in New York.
- Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors: These counselors typically work in schools to guide and assess students. School and guidance counselors help students improve academically and achieve long-term goals. They also serve pivotal roles in raising awareness about issues such as bullying.
- Marriage and Family Therapists: Marriage and family therapists work in private practices and serve a critical role in helping families and couples make better decisions and work through their emotions as they confront challenges.
- Rehabilitation Counselors: Rehabilitation counselors make a lasting difference in the lives of people with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. They may also work with employers to ensure that they comply with disability laws.
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: Substance abuse and mental health counselors serve an all-important job in the lives of those suffering from addiction and mental health and/or behavioral disorders. They lead interventions and work to formulate treatment plans.
- Counselors, All Other: There are several other different types of counselors, including social workers and social and community service managers. Each specialized counselor works with specific populations to meet those needs. They help in crisis situations and serve crucial roles in the daily lives of everyone, including children to terminally ill patients.
|Occupation||Average Salary in New York|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||$70,690|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||$65,940|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||$54,070|
|Counselors, All Other||$60,460|
Education Requirements for Counselors
You will need to complete a master’s or doctoral degree in counseling, and your degree should be accredited by CACREP. You will also be required to complete at least 60 semester study hours and 600 hours of a supervised internship or practicum.
There will be some differences in the application process if your program was not CACREP-accredited or specifically approved by the state. You'll need to have your coursework reviewed and submit additional documentation, such as syllabi and transcripts, to prove that you have received sufficient instruction and education. You can find more information on the Office of Professions FAQ page for students who graduated from non-accredited programs, programs outside of New York, or programs that were not licensure-qualified at the time of their graduation.
Equivalent programs will include the following:
- Social and Cultural Foundations of Counseling
- Human Growth and Development
- Counseling Theory and Practice
- Lifestyle and Career Development
- Group Dynamics
- Research and Program Evaluation
- Assessment and Appraisal (Individual, Family, Couple, Group)
- Foundations of Mental Health Counseling and Consultation
- Professional Orientation and Ethics
- Clinical Instruction
- Internship or Practicum
If you have a counseling degree that does not meet the educational requirements, you may become eligible through additional coursework, but it is important that the degree itself is qualifying. The board notes that a person with a degree in school counseling would likely have some extra work to do, but would not need to complete an additional degree. A person with a degree in human services; however, would. It would be up to the individual school whether they would grant advanced placement for prior coursework; the process wouldn't necessarily involve starting over at the beginning.
The board notes that if a person is currently attending a school that hasn't been approved by New York, but is considering becoming a counselor within the state, they should carefully go over the requirements with an adviser. The next step would be deciding if classes can be completed at the school or if it would be better to transfer.
Distance learning is acceptable if it meets all requirements. However, you'll need to be aware of New York's policies regarding internship placements. You can do your internship within the state if it meets legal requirements set by the state; New York does have a process by which out-of-state schools can be approved to place interns.
Child Abuse Training
In addition to the above requirements, you'll need training in identifying and reporting child abuse. Depending on where you completed your education, this may or may not have been included in your initial program. You can find a list of approved providers on the board site. You may apply for an exemption if you'll be working in a practice where you will not have contact with either juveniles or handicapped adults who are living in residential care.
Online Counseling Programs in New York
New York is a state of diversity and hosts many specialized online counseling programs. One such program is New York University-Steinhardt's online counseling and guidance master's degree, which certifies students in as few as 18 months to work in pre-K through 12th grades. Students in this master's program participate in weekly classes and online labs that prepare them for internships in their local area. NYU also offers in-person networking sessions. Another offering indicative of the diversity present in New York is a specialized master's program with a bilingual counseling concentration.
Medaille also offers an online master's degree in clinical mental health counseling program comprised of 17 seven-week classes. This program provides students with licensure to work in the state. Students take three semesters or internships to get work experience in New York.
Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in New York
Counselors in New York enroll in continuing education courses for many reasons. On-site courses and webinars help counselors develop and diversify their skills. They also learn to utilize new technological tools, which ultimately helps increase their salary potential. Continuing education is also required for New York counseling licensure and certification renewals; counselors must finish 36 hours of continuing education every three years. Here are some educational opportunities available through approved providers.
- Creative Arts Therapy Certificate Program: This program teaches mental health counselors and social workers how to utilize creative arts in their work as a form of therapy. The idea is to "facilitate person-centered communication" to help clients communicate their emotions through nonverbal therapy. The program is 66 hours and offers 60 continuing education hours.
- Holding on and Letting Go: The Red Thread of Adult Bereavement: Students can earn two continuing education hours by attending this online webinar offered through the New York University Silver School of Social Work. This webinar covers information about the "normal" grieving behaviors of an adult and practice-based and evidence-based interventions.
- Providing Counseling Services to Emergency Workers, Military, and Their Families: The New York City Marriage & Family Therapy, PLLC, offers a rolling catalogue of continuing education courses available in-person at its New York City office. This course is worth two continuing education hours. Students will learn about the on-the-job stressors that impact emergency service workers and how to treat them.
How Do You Become a Counselor in New York?
The application will include questions about your education and professional fitness, as well as questions about immigration and child support status. You’ll complete it in ink and sign an affidavit that all materials are true. The affidavit will need to be notarized, and you’ll have to send some materials directly to the board. The certification of education form must be submitted directly by the university where you got your counseling degree; you will fill out the first section before sending it to your school. Finally, your supervisor will need to send certification of supervised experience directly to the board.
You will then mail your completed application with payment for application fees to the New York State Education Department.
New York counselors will have to pay out of pocket throughout their careers to maintain their license. The largest fees will be incurred by first-time counselors when they initially apply for licensure in New York. First-timers will pay for the licensure application and registration fee, plus the fee for a limited permit. Your application and qualifications will only be reviewed by the New York State Education Department after you have submitted the payment for these fees and your college has submitted your educational information.
Please note that you may have to pay additional costs if you work as a counselor in a specialized field such as creative arts therapy or marriage and family therapy. Peruse the chart below for more information on possible fees you may have to pay to receive and maintain your New York counseling licensure.
|Limited Permit Fee||$70|
|Certified Behavior Analyst Assistant||$225 plus additional $70 for Limited Permit|
|Certification of New York State Licensure||$20|
|Continuing Education Fee||$45|
|Child Abuse Coursework Provider||$300|
|Duplicate or Replacement License||$10|
|Replacement of Registration Certificate||$10|
|Verification of Grades/Transcript||$20|
|License Verification (Written)||$10|
The Licensing Exam
You will need to take the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE) and will receive your registration from New York's Office of the Professions after you have been authorized. You'll fill out the form, sign it in ink, and send it the NBCC. It will take about a month for you to receive confirmation, and then you may schedule at any of the computerized testing sites; New York has 16 testing centers. You may also schedule by calling Pearson VUE or visiting their website.
Supervised Practice Requirement
You must work under supervision for 3,000 hours before you can attain professional status, and at least 1,500 hours must be direct client contact. Activities like case management, record keeping, and research may be applied toward the remaining 1,500 hours. You will work under a limited permit while you complete your hours. A general application for counseling licensure and a separate limited permit application will need to be filled out and submitted. The board notes that it's imperative that you do not begin practice before you get your permit. It’s important to note that a limited permit qualifies you to work at one particular site; if you work at more than one site, you will have more than one permit. Your permit is good for 24 months, and you may be granted up to two extensions at board discretion. If you don’t meet the timeline, you can only perform services in a New York facility that is exempt and cannot present yourself as a licensed professional.
You will need to complete a qualifying degree in order to get your limited permit. If the board determines that you are missing some coursework, you may be allowed to work as an intern while completing additional requirements. The board notes that school or community counseling would be considered qualifying degrees even though they would not include all the mental health counseling coursework.
Your supervisor for the 3,000 work hours may be your employer or another worker who is employed at your worksite. They must be competent in mental health counseling, but may hold licensure in a field other than counseling such as medicine, nursing, clinical social work, physician assistant, or psychology. The board may allow other individuals who have equivalent qualifications. There is a section in your application materials titled requirements for supervised experience, and this should be provided to the person who will be supervising you. Your supervisor should spend at least four hours a month, or one hour per week, providing professional guidance and oversight and reviewing your client treatment, assessment, and evaluation.
If your employer does not have a qualified licensed professional to supervise you, they may hire someone to do so. You should not hire or contract a supervisor yourself. The supervisor will need access to patient records as they are jointly responsible for patient care.
Out-of-State Counselor Candidates
You will need to get a license verification from any state where you have held professional licensing. If you have been actively practicing mental health counseling under license in another jurisdiction, you may be a candidate for licensure by endorsement. You will need to provide the names and addresses of colleagues who can verify your active practice and a certification of licensed experience form for each colleague you listed. You'll fill out the top portion and pass it on; your colleagues will complete the form and return it to the board. Foreign degrees may be accepted if the board determines them to be substantially equivalent.
New York will not accept the the NCE in lieu of the NCMHCE. If you’ve taken the NCMHCE, you can arrange to have verification sent to the board. However, if you took the exam under nonstandard conditions, you may need to retake it. New York accepts Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations.
Resources for Counselors
Counseling students and counselors in New York can take advantage of numerous resources to find jobs, scholarships, continuing education courses, and network with other professionals. Here are five helpful resources:
- New York State Career Development Association: The NYSCDA, which is part of the American Counseling Association, promotes career development by providing greater access to job services and by fostering networking opportunities for working professionals. The organization hosts a number of events throughout the year, including webinars and a biennial conference.
- New York State Department of Labor: This resource is particularly handy for New York counselors looking for job postings, job fairs, tips on how to update their resume, and local career centers. The site also provides integral information about counseling requirements.
- Higher Education Services Corporation: Students studying in New York State will appreciate all of the helpful tips about state and federal financial aid available on the Higher Education Services Corporation's website. There are also links to scholarship applications and information on applying for the New York State Tuition Assistance Program.
- State University of New York Career Development Organization: SUNYCDO is a career development organization comprised of 64 state university campuses. Employers often utilize this organization to publicize internships and jobs. SUNY graduates, students, and employees are eligible for membership.
- Vibrant Emotional Health: Vibrant Emotional Health provides essential crisis programs for the community, including the NYC Well and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The organization also serves to network professionals working in counseling through its internal job positions on their website.
Professional Organizations for Counselors
Counselors will want to consider joining professional organizations to network, find job openings, find educational opportunities, and remain current on industry news. Below are three popular counseling organizations.
- American Counseling Association of New York: This regional chapter of the ACA helps counseling students and counselors in New York excel in their careers. ACA-NY holds free networking events and free continuing education courses four times a year for its members. Members also get discounts on rental cars, insurance, and subscription.
- New York State School Counselor Association: The NYSSCA provides support for school counselors and students who are studying counseling. The association also holds an annual conference where it names the School Counselor of the Year, among other awards. Members have access to the NYS Comprehensive Model Program and school counseling resources, such as links to low-cost summer and after-school programs and cyber safety websites.
- New York Mental Health Counselors Association: This advocacy association serves New York's clinical counselors. Membership pays for in-person and online continuing education programs, which are needed for renewal of licensure in New York. Members also get dental insurance, access to Find-a-Supervisor and Find-a-Counselor directories, and career development opportunities. The NYMHCA's mentorship program also connects students with working clinical counselors.