Counseling Licensing Requirements in Oklahoma
Like all states, Oklahoma regulates the professional counseling profession. There is one level of Oklahoma counseling licensure: licensed professional counselor (LPC). You will not actually achieve this status until you have completed two years of supervised work experience.
You must submit most of your application materials at the onset of practice. Before you begin accruing your experience, you will need to meet a number of requirements, including education and documentation of acceptable professional and legal background.
This guide is intended to provide an easy to navigate path to completing the LPC requirements in Oklahoma. If at any point you have questions or just want to make sure that you are on the right path, contact Oklahoma's Professional Counselor Licensing Division.
Counseling Careers in Oklahoma
Becoming a counselor in Oklahoma takes hard work and dedication, but those who can stick to it can enjoy a rewarding career. Professionals can choose from several concentrations in counseling, many of which are growing more than three times faster than the average career in the U.S. No matter which specialty students choose, they can spend their working years in the service of others. Counselors can work with physical rehabilitation patients, couples and families, students in schools, people with addiction, or those with other mental illnesses. Oklahoma counselors can work in clinical, hospital, or school settings.
- Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors: These specialized counselors help students from elementary through postsecondary school. They work within schools to help identify resources and keep students on the path to success.
- Marriage and Family Therapists: Therapists who help families and couples navigate life's difficulties often work in clinical settings. They typically have regular appointments with patients to gradually help them over time.
- Rehabilitation Counselors: Physical rehabilitation often comes after trauma or acute illness, all of which can leave patients with emotional scars. These counselors help such patients work through these issues.
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: These professionals work in clinical settings to heal patients with mental illnesses such as addiction, depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
- Counselors, All Other: Some counselors specialize in more niche areas of practice, such as eating disorders, trauma, and pediatric therapy. These professionals can work in schools, hospitals, and private clinical practice.
|Occupation||Average Salary in Oklahoma|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||$42,270|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||$46,940|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||$47,710|
Other Professionals Who Can Be Licensed as Counselors
Professionals in some closely related fields may be eligible for Oklahoma counseling licensure. According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapists can be licensed as counselors.
Dance and movement therapy is officially recognized as a branch of counseling by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); graduates of accredited programs are eligible for licensure in most states.
Education Requirements for Counselors
You will need to complete a graduate degree in counseling from a regionally accredited school. You must have at least 60 semester hours, or 90 quarter hours, of coursework. When you submit your application, you will need to document coursework in each of the following areas:
- Human Growth and Development
- Abnormal Development
- Appraisal and Assessment Techniques
- Counseling Theories and Methods
- Professional Orientation and Ethics
You will need at least two courses in the appraisal/assessment and theories and methods categories. You will need at least one course in each of the other content areas. Your practicum must be at least 300 clock hours. Additionally, you will need to document five elective courses, drawn from the following areas:
- Group Dynamics
- Lifestyle and Career Development
- Human Sexuality
- Social and Cultural Foundations
- Child/Adolescent Counseling
- Personality Theories
- Clinical Supervision
- Crisis Intervention
- Marriage and Family Counseling
- Addictions Counseling
- Physical and Emotional Health
- Rehabilitation Counseling
- Specialty Areas
The application will also ask you to list the additional courses in your program and code them by category.
Oklahoma does not require that counseling programs be accredited by the CACREP. However, CACREP accreditation will ensure that the program meets the educational requirements of most states in the country. Oklahoma has multiple accredited programs, one of which is at Oklahoma State University. It is also possible to enroll in CACREP-accredited programs that are offered primarily online.
Online Counseling Programs in Oklahoma
Online programs can offer counseling students the same quality education as the on-campus counterparts with plenty of additional benefits. The distance education courses are most often asynchronous. This distinction means that students can watch lectures, complete homework, and take tests at any convenient time, so long as they finish before the deadline. Furthermore, many online classes are mobile friendly, giving learners the freedom to complete their education anywhere. These flexible features allow students to work and have social lives while in school.
The most financially feasible way to attend school online is often to choose an in-state program. These institutions usually offer steep discounts for residents. Oklahoma students have great options when it comes to online learning. For example, Southeastern Oklahoma State University has a school counseling graduate program with all of its courses offered online; the practicum is completed in person, which is standard for online counseling programs. Oklahoma State University offers programs in both mental health and school counseling. Although students must take a few courses on campus, the university offers many online. Students can also choose to attend one of the many Texas schools that offer in-state tuition for Oklahoma residents.
How Do You Become a Counselor in Oklahoma?
You will need to begin the application process well in advance, which may take more than six weeks.
You may request a fingerprint packet by email. Make sure to leave your name and mailing address in your email. The application packet contains several supplemental forms. Fingerprint cards and transcripts must accompany your application. The board requests that application materials be sent together in the same envelope, even those that come from third parties.
You will need to request that your college or university send you official transcripts. You will include these in their original sealed envelope and note, on the application form, which university they are from. You will need to document your practicum(s). You will fill out the top portion of the official form and then have a supervisor or school official verify the information and make a recommendation. You will need to get three recommendations on official forms.
You will need to sign an affidavit that you are a citizen or lawful alien. You will need to document your practicum or internship. You should include a check or money order in the amount of $145, which should be made out to the LPC Revolving Fund. Application materials should be sent to the State Board of Behavioral Health Licensure.
The board recommends that you make photocopies of your documents and that you send your application packet by certified mail.
To become a licensed counselor in Oklahoma, applicants must pay a few fees to the state government. These costs cover what it takes for the government to administer the tests and process applications. While students may not have to pay these fees just yet, it is helpful to prepare before they become due. Applicants must pay some of these costs to take the licensing exam, some to apply for licensure, and one when renewing licenses. Not all counselors will incur all of the fees below. What a candidate pays depends on the type of counseling and licensure.
|Licensed Professional Counselor Application||$145|
|Licensed Marital and Family Therapist Application||$200|
|Licensed Behavioral Practitioner Application||$275|
|LPC Renewal Fee||$80|
|LMFT or LBP Renewal||$100|
|License Reactivation||Varies based on time inactive|
The Licensing Exam
You will need to complete two tests before you can be awarded professional status. The first is a licensing exam, the National Counselor Examination (NCE), which is administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. The second is a jurisprudence exam.
To be approved to take the licensing exam, you will need to submit your licensing application and the required supplemental materials.
You will need to submit your letter of authorization to the NBCC along with your registration form and the requisite $195 fee. You will mail your registration materials to the CCE Assessment Department.
The NCE is administered at Pearson VUE testing sites throughout the country. Oklahoma has testing centers in Norman, Oklahoma City, and Tulsa. Students can schedule an appointment to take the exam online or by phone.
If you do not pass the NCE on a first attempt, the Oklahoma board will continue to allow you to retake the exam during your two year eligibility window. The NBCC requires a 90 day wait time between attempts.
Before attempting the jurisprudence exam, you will need to become familiar with Oklahoma's Licensed Professional Counselor Act and Regulations.
The examination is offered at multiple sites; there is a $40 fee.
Supervised Practice Requirement
Generally, you will need to work under supervision for three full years. However, your supervised work experience may be reduced if you have a post-master's education in counseling. You may receive credit for one year of supervised experience if you have 30 additional semester hours in counseling. You can receive credit for two years if you have 60 semester hours. All candidates are required to have at least one year of supervised experience, no matter how much education they have completed.
You are considered full time if you are putting in at least 20 hours a week; 1,000 hours is considered a year for licensing purposes. You may work at a slower pace and spend more than three years completing the requirements, but you will need to complete your supervised work experience within a five year period.
At least 350 hours out of each 1,000 will need to be face-to-face client care. You will need a board-approved supervisor to review your practice data and assist in your professional development. Your approved supervisor may be a different person than your on-site supervisor. However, you will need to verify to the board that you do indeed have both forms of supervision.
Your approved clinical supervisor will need to do at least two observations during each six-month period. These may be taped or live. Students will also need to consult with their on-site supervisor at least once during the six-month timeframe.
You should have 45 minutes of direct supervision for every 20 hours you spend on the job. You and your supervisor will need to submit an evaluation of supervised experience form every six months.
Out of State Counselor Candidates
As an out-of-state applicant, you may be a candidate for licensure by endorsement, provided your state has comparable standards.
There are two separate application packets for endorsement candidates: one for those who have been licensed five or more years, another for those who have been licensed for less.
You will need to get license verification from your licensing agency. You should procure a letter that your license is in good standing.
License Maintenance and Renewal
You will need to do 20 hours of acceptable continuing education each year. At least three must be in ethics. You will submit a continuing education roster. You should retain continuing education records for two years in case of an audit.
Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Oklahoma
- Edmond Counseling and Professional Development: The Counseling Institute at this facility provides continuing education courses for Oklahoma counselors throughout the year. Professionals can learn about mindfulness in action, ethics, self-care, and cultural competencies. The institute holds many of these classes on Saturdays in Edmond.
- CREOKS: This nonprofit human services agency offers continuing education courses for counseling professionals each year. The Oklahoma State Board of Behavioral Health includes CREOKS on its list of pre-approved continuing education (CE) providers, which means that counselors who take these courses are likely to receive approval for renewal. Professionals can learn about important topics like ethical issues in counseling, how to become a clinical supervisor, and treating sexual abuse victims.
- FastCEUs: This online continuing education credit provider has courses in a variety of counseling topics, including ADHD in adults, tobacco addiction, hypnotherapy, and trauma counseling. They also have hyper-specialized courses that can help counselors who find themselves in difficult situations, such as a course called counseling people who have killed other people. This organization occasionally hosts in-person trainings in Oklahoma.
Resources for Counselors
- Oklahoma Mental Health Counselors Association Conference: This annual conference affords attendees the opportunity to network with colleagues and learn about special issues affecting Oklahoma's mental health counselors and their patients.
- Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services: Through this department, counselors can find many of the state resources available to their patients. Professionals can also stay up-to-date on Oklahoma's prevention campaigns.
- OCARTA: The acronym for this organization stands for Oklahoma Citizens Advocating for Recovery and Treatment Association. Professionals can benefit from connecting with these passionate citizens and learning from them.
- Oklahoma Eating Disorders Association: This nonprofit organization advocates for compassionate treatment of eating disorders. Professionals who want to help such patients can learn from the organization's resources and members.
- Oklahoma State Board of Behavioral Health: Counseling professionals can turn to this website for information on licensing exams, supervisors, license applications, and continuing education.
Professional Organizations for Counselors
- Oklahoma Association for Marriage and Family Therapy: As a division of the larger national association, OkAMFT advocates for licenced marriage and family therapists and their patients through continuing education, legislative support, scholarships, and conferences. This organization has many resources specifically for counseling students and new professionals. They also maintain a database of approved supervisors.
- Oklahoma Psychological Association: OPA members gain access to the association's listserv, which keeps readers up-to-date on local counseling issues and helps professionals network. The organization seeks to advance psychology as a science, career, and method of serving others. Members help fund lobbying efforts on behalf of counselors and their patients.
- Oklahoma School Counselor Association: Each year, OSCA holds a conference for the school counseling professionals in the state, which is an excellent networking and learning opportunity. Members also gain access to professional development, continuing education, and leadership grants.