Counseling Licensing Requirements in Texas
The Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors credentials counselors at two levels. While working to complete full licensure requirements, you work as a licensed professional counselor intern (LPC-I). Once you have completed the remainder of licensure requirements, including post-master’s supervised practice, you can apply to become a licensed professional counselor (LPC).
This information serves as a guide to help aspiring counselors obtain a counseling license in Texas. If you have specific questions about the process, don’t hesitate to contact the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors.
Capella University offers three online master's programs that hold accreditation from The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP): clinical mental health counseling, marriage and family counseling/therapy, and school counseling. Click here to contact Capella University and request more information about its distance programs.
Northwestern's CACREP-accredited online MA in counseling program ranks among the top-12 in the nation and offers both full- and part-time options that allow learners to earn a degree at their convenience. Aspiring counselors need not submit GRE scores to apply to this program. Requests for additional information can be made here.
Counseling Careers in Texas
Texas counseling licensure requires rigorous educational training and on-the-job experience to ensure that patients receive informed and ethical care that adheres to state and national standards. Graduate counseling programs prepare learners for careers in environments such as schools, outpatient centers, and private practice. In addition to rewarding work helping clients overcome obstacles, many professionals in this field earn significantly more than the national average for all occupations. The positions listed below represent common careers pursued by professionals in this field.
- Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors: Employed insettings like elementary and secondary schools, colleges, and healthcare agencies, these professionals work directly with students to facilitate academic success and emotional well-being. These workers also address schoolwide issues, including truancy and drug use.
- Marriage and Family Therapists: These professionals help couples and families process emotional difficulties and develop skills to improve communication. Using theories to guide counseling interventions, marriage and family therapists address many relational difficulties, including divorce, grief, and behavioral disorders.
- Rehabilitation Counselors: Approximately one-third of rehabilitation counselors work in community and vocational rehabilitation centers where they help individuals with disabilities live more independently. These professionals identify client needs and develop treatment plans that promote community reintegration.
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: These professionals work in settings that include outpatient facilities, private practices, and hospitals. In addition to helping clients develop behavioral management strategies, they treat underlying mental disorders that can lead to addiction.
- Counselors, All Other: Employed in emergency services, nursing care facilities, and social agencies, these counselors possess broad skill sets that allow them to assist a variety of individuals.
|Occupation||Average Salary in Texas|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||$60,210|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||$45,160|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||$45,790|
|Counselors, All Other||$60,820|
Education Requirements for Counselors
To become a licensed counselor, you need to complete a master's program. This program may be in counseling or a related field, including psychiatry, psychology, marriage and family therapy, or social work. You can learn more about selecting a master's in counseling program here. To graduate with a master’s degree, you need to complete at least 48 semester hours of coursework, including courses in each of the following areas:
- Normal Human Growth and Development
- Abnormal Behavior
- Counseling Theories
- Appraisal or Assessment Techniques
- Counseling Methods or Techniques
- Social, Cultural, and Family issues
- Lifestyle and Career Development
- Professional Orientation
You also need to complete an internship of at least 300 hours, including at least 100 hours of direct client work. Practica primarily related to appraisal cannot be used to meet this requirement.
Antioch University offers a new online MA in clinical mental health counseling program that is currently in the process of receiving CACREP accreditation. This CACREP-accredited distance program will mirror the one delivered on campus. Students at Antioch can pursue specializations in substance abuse and addictions counseling as well as counseling military service personnel and their families. Antioch is a private, nonprofit university. The school's program is not available to students residing in CA, IL, IA, KS, MO, NH, or ND.
Education for Licensed Professional Counselors With an Art Therapy Specialization
If you want to pursue work as an art therapy specialist, you can enroll in a master’s or doctoral program in art therapy instead of a general professional counseling program. Your program should include a practicum that features at least 700 hours of supervised work. To learn more about this option, visit this site.
You should look for art therapy programs accredited by the American Art Therapy Association (AATA). The Texas board allows courses from AATA-accredited programs to be applied toward counseling coursework requirements, as long as 75% of the content is comparable.
A graduate degree in counseling or a related field is also acceptable for an art therapy counseling specialization if you have completed at least 21 semester hours of sequential art therapy coursework -- including history, theory, and practice -- and if you meet the requirement of 700 supervised practicum hours in art therapy. This requirement for post-master’s supervised art therapy experience will be less if your degree is actually in art therapy, as opposed to a related field.
LPC Application Forms
Online Counseling Programs in Texas
Earning Texas counseling licensure requires a graduate-level education in counseling. Prospective students interested in becoming a licensed counselor in Texas can choose from on-campus, hybrid, or online programs. Online programs promote career readiness by applying the same rigorous training techniques found in face-to-face settings. Counseling students enrolled in an online program complete the same curriculum as their on-campus peers with the added benefits of increased convenience and flexibility. Online programs may deliver course content asynchronously, synchronously, or through a combination of the two formats. Synchronous courses, which require a student’s virtual attendance at a specific time, allow learners to engage in therapeutic role playing with their peers.
Texas colleges across the state offer CACREP-accredited counseling programs, including online degrees available through the University of Texas at Tyler and Beaumont’s Lamar University. The University of Texas at Tyler offers a 48-credit online MA in school counseling, which features an 18-month completion time. Out-of-state students enrolled in this program must complete their internship requirements in Texas. Lamar University’s master's in education in clinical mental health counseling consists of 60 credits and requires two on-campus residencies. Online students who do not reside in Texas can complete fieldwork hours in their home state. This link provides more information about educational opportunities that can lead to Texas counseling licensure.
How Do You Become a Counselor in Texas?
To become a counselor in Texas, individuals must meet several requirements related to their education, examinations, and supervised practice. Individuals who successfully accomplish these requirements can then submit an application to the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors. For a full checklist of the material needed to complete a professional counselor application, refer to the LPC application packet hosted on this site. Double check that you have included all of the necessary material when submitting your packet; incomplete application packets will be returned to the applicant without review. An applicant then has 45 days to resubmit a complete application packet or they risk forfeiting their application fee. Finally, aspiring counselors must also pay multiple fees to obtain, and subsequently maintain, their license.
The table below displays the costs of applications, licenses, and renewals that must be paid by individuals working in this field. Internship students and graduates who meet counseling requirements in Texas pay a $200 application fee when they submit their application. Candidates seeking an art therapy designation pay a slightly higher application fee. After an application has been processed, applicants deemed eligible for licensure pay $106 to receive their LPC certificate. LPC Texas practitioners must also renew their license every two years and pay a $106 renewal fee.
|Application Fee with Art Therapy Designation||$230|
|Temporary License Application Fee||$200|
|Licensed Professional Counselor||$106|
|Licensed Professional Counselor Renewal||$106|
|Duplicate or Replacement License||$10|
The Licensing Exam
Before you can become an LPC-I, you need to pass two examinations: the Texas Jurisprudence Exam and the National Counselor Examination (NCE). The jurisprudence exam is no-fail, and you can log in and complete it at your convenience. Once finished, you should print out the certificate and submit it to the board as part of your application file. You should also keep a copy for your own records.
The NCE serves as the primary counseling licensing exam. It is given at testing centers around the nation, but you need to make sure that you download the Texas registration form. The registration form asks for your school code, which you can find in a provided list.
You must sign the form in ink and send the original to the NBCC with a $275 fee. You should also include official transcripts that show the date you earned your master’s degree. Registration materials must be sent by mail to the following address:
CCE Assessment Dept.
PO Box 7407
Greensboro, NC 27417-0407
The processing time is about a month. Once you receive your confirmation, you can schedule your exam at a Pearson computerized testing site. Texas has 19 such testing sites. You need to schedule in advance by visiting www.pearsonvue.com or by calling 866-904-4432. Your fee gives you a six-month eligibility window.
The board allows you to sit for the exam three times without requiring additional education. However, if you do not pass after three attempts, you need to either take nine hours of graduate coursework in your weakest area or wait two years to retake the exam.
Supervised Practice Requirement
You need to complete at least 3,000 hours of supervised practice as an LPC-I, and at least 1,500 of these hours must be earned through direct client care. You may count up to 400 practicum or internship hours towards this requirement if they were earned in excess of the 300 required for licensure.
You need to complete an average of one hour of direct supervision under a board-approved supervisor each week. Up to half of these may be fulfilled using a live webcam, but the remainder must be face to face. Additionally, up to half of these hours may be in a group setting.
Before beginning these supervised hours, you need to fill out some paperwork and report your supervisor, agency, and the type of experience you plan you plan to attain (e.g., drug and alcohol, rehabilitation, or art therapy). You and your supervisor will sign this agreement. At this point, you must also submit an application and application fee.
Aspiring counselors must work as an intern for a minimum of 18 months, although you can take longer to fulfill your requirements. Your intern license is valid for five years. If you do not finish all of your supervised hours during that time, you need to begin the application process again and retake the NCE; however, you can still apply previous hours earned as an intern toward licensure requirements.
When the board receives all of the required materials, including documentation of supervised experience and the required payment, your professional license will be issued.
Supervised Experience and Examination Requirements for LPC with an Art Therapy Specialization
In order to receive the art therapy specialization, you need to complete therapy hours under the supervision of an LPC with an art therapy specialization; you need to accrue at least 1,000 client contact hours. If your graduate degree is in a related field, your supervised practice requirement increases to 2,000 hours. You also need to pass the NCE in art therapy, which is administered by the Art Therapy Credentials Board.
Out-of-State Counselor Candidates
If you hold a license as a professional counselor or art therapist in another state, you may be eligible to practice under a provisional license while the board reviews your qualifications; to determine your eligibility, visit this site.
To apply, you must submit official verification that your license is in good standing. You may obtain this from your state board or from the National Credentials Registry (if you have registered with this organization). You also need to submit official transcripts and verification that you have met examination requirements. This application requires a $200 fee.
License Maintenance and Renewal
Licensed counselors need to renew their professional license every two years. During that two-year period, professionals must also take 24 continuing education units and retake the jurisprudence exam. Four of these units must be related to ethics, and the jurisprudence exam counts as one unit.
Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Texas
- Texas Counseling Association: Offering educational opportunities across the state, TCA hosts conferences that feature continuing education opportunities emphasizing professional growth, school counseling, and leadership. In addition to face-to-face workshops, TCA features a variety of online continuing education courses with topics in areas such as child and adolescent counseling, professional ethics, and lifespan development.
- Texas Department of State Health Services Grand Rounds: Facilitated by the medical educator Grand Rounds, this state organization offers continuing education credits for healthcare professionals, including licensed chemical dependency counselors and LPCs. Professional counselors can attend presentations in person or virtually through live video conferencing. Previous presentations explored evidence-based treatments for opioid dependency and therapeutic responses to child abuse and intimate partner violence.
- NetCE.com: This online continuing education database offers credit bundles in categories such as alternative medicine, community health, and pediatrics. Promoting a variety of cost-effective options, NetCE.com allows counselors to pay for unlimited access to courses each year. Example course topics include behavioral addictions, borderline personality disorder, and clinical documentation. NetCE.com holds approval from the National Board for Certified Counselors.
Resources for Counselors
- MentalHealthTX.org: Developed to inform Texas residents about mental health disorders and treatment options, this website features information on children's behavioral health, mental first aid, and community support contacts to assist various populations.
- Texas Education Agency: This organization provides information for high school counselors who work with students nearing graduation. Resources include state financial aid opportunities and job search strategies.
- Texas Health and Human Services: Offering service coordination strategies to counselors, this agency facilitates client advocacy by connecting professionals with state resources for aging populations and individuals with developmental and physical disabilities.
- Texas Rehabilitation Association: An affiliate of the National Rehabilitation Association, this organization hosts subchapters throughout the state. Student members benefit from a variety of resources, including professional mentorship and scholarship opportunities.
- CounselorResources.com: This site provides school counselors with resources to address issues such as mindfulness, punishment alternatives, and college preparation. It also features counseling games that promote the exploration of mental health topics through play.
Professional Organizations for Counselors
- Lone Star State School Counselor Association: Emphasizing professional development for school counselors, LSSSCA promotes ethical conduct and community advocacy through outreach programs. In addition to its annual conference, LSSSCA hosts an annual leadership summit in conjunction with the American School Counselor Association. These networking opportunities feature information on suicide prevention, compassion fatigue, and academic support.
- North Central Texas Counseling Association: A chapter of TCA, this organization offers discounted membership fees for students, allowing members to attend monthly programs and acquire continuing education credits at no additional cost. NCTCA also provides a unique internship opportunity for current students, letting them sit on the NCTCA board and participate in decision-making processes.
- Texas Association of Addiction Professionals: This state branch of the National Association for Addiction Professionals fosters professional development and provides members with access to more than 90 different continuing education credits. TAAP also hosts Young Addiction Professionals, which is an educational and networking community of addiction counseling students and emerging professionals between the ages of 18 and 35.