Counseling Licensing Requirements in Utah

Utah licenses mental health counselors separately from practitioners in other therapy fields. The state offers three levels of licensing: associate clinical mental health counselor extern, associate clinical mental health counselor, and licensed clinical mental health counselor (LCMHC). License seekers must complete specific requirements to earn these credentials.

The information provided below guides you through the path to counseling licensure in Utah. Those with questions may contact the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing Board.

Capella University offers three online CACREP-accredited master's programs: clinical mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, and school counseling.

Northwestern's CACREP-accredited online master's in counseling offers both full-time and part-time options that allow you to earn a degree on your own schedule. The program does not require GRE scores.

Counseling Careers in Utah

Counselors can enter one of many careers. Today’s shifting demographics coupled with the increasing attention paid to both mental and physical well-being mean counselors can pursue an array of opportunities. The knowledge and skills a licensed counselor possesses help individuals of all backgrounds and ages. Whether you assume a role in a school, clinical practice, or rehabilitation center, you can make a difference.

  • Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors: These counselors help students develop academic and social skills in preparation for life. They examine students’ performance to ensure that they succeed inside and outside of the classroom.
  • Marriage and Family Therapists: These professionals encourage couples and families to examine their feelings and adjust to life-changing circumstances. In addition to empowering people to cope with challenges, they connect them to resources that better enable them to overcome those issues.
  • Rehabilitation Counselors: These counselors equip people to live independent, fulfilling lives by providing the mental, emotional, physical, and developmental support they require. They often facilitate individual and group sessions and connect people to resources like job-skills training and medical care.
  • Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: These experts advise individuals who suffer from addictions and behavioral and mental health issues. They develop treatment protocols and help the families of those they counsel.
  • Counselors, All Other: Counselors who pursue other specialities may, for example, offer individuals guidance on their finances, credit, or personal branding. Their role caters to the specific needs of specific clients.
Occupation Average Salary in Utah
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors $48,100
Marriage and Family Therapists $53,740
Rehabilitation Counselors $48,180
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $67,160
Counselors, All Other $39,080

Source: BLS

Education Requirements for Counselors

Licensure at all levels requires a graduate degree in mental health according to Utah counseling licensure rules and regulations. Your degree must include at least 60 semester hours (or 90 quarter hours) of coursework. Your school or program should hold accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or by another entity recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Utah offers one CACREP-accredited mental health counseling program at the University of Phoenix-Utah. Students can also choose among several online programs.

Antioch University offers an online master's in clinical mental health counseling that holds CACREP accreditation. Specializations include substance abuse and addictions counseling and counseling military service personnel and their families. Antioch is a private, nonprofit university that offers this program to students in every state except for CA, IL, IA, KS, MO, NH, and ND.

If your program does not hold CACREP accreditation, you must demonstrate that your coursework meets Utah's requirements.

You must complete two semester hours (or three quarter hours) in ethical standards, issues, and decision making. The ethical standards taught should reflect the principles set out by the American Counseling Association, the National Board for Certified Counselors, or the American Mental Health Counselors Association.

You must also complete six semester hours in counseling and helping relationships and four semester hours in mental status and appraisal of DSM conditions. You must also complete two semester hours in each of the following:

  • Theories of Individual Therapy
  • Group Theories
  • Psychopathology and Multi-Axial Diagnosis
  • Dysfunctional Behaviors
  • Foundations of Test and Measurement Theory
  • Advanced Assessment of Mental Status

You will need three semester hours (or four quarter hours) in the following:

  • Human Growth and Development
  • Group Counseling
  • Social and Cultural Diversity
  • Career Development
  • Assessment
  • Substance and Addiction Disorders
  • Professional Orientation and Ethics
  • Research and Program Evaluation

Practicum and Internship Requirements

You also need to complete a practicum and an internship. The practicum must consist of at least three semester hours (or four quarter hours) and include 1,000 hours of training -- 400 of which must focus on mental health therapy services.

Utah licenses only those with education in mental health counseling. If you hold a master's degree in a related field, you may take additional coursework to meet requirements. The board considers applicants with degrees in the following fields:

  • Career Counseling
  • College Counseling
  • Gerontological Counseling
  • Career Counseling
  • Rehabilitation Counseling
  • Student Affairs
  • Dance Therapy
  • Music Therapy

If you only need to complete nine credits or fewer, you may practice under a temporary license while you complete them. You must; however, complete key coursework prior to earning your temporary license, including practicum and internship experiences.

CACREP offers a list of accredited schools, and students can find many resources online about how to find the right program.

Online Counseling Programs in Utah

A Utah counseling license provides holders with several opportunities. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau states that the number of residents between 2010 and 2017 surged 12%. With more people now calling Utah home, the need for professionals who hold an LLPC license will grow.

You can fulfill your academic counselor requirements through online studies at institutions like New York University, Vanderbilt University, Wake Forest University, and Walden University. Completing your coursework online not only saves money, it also affords you extra time and flexibility. Online programs allow you to attend class on your schedule as long as you fulfill course requirements. Moreover, your online peers hail from all over the world, allowing you to interact with counseling concepts from alternative perspectives. All students must complete state requirements to earn Utah counseling licensure.

How Do You Become a Counselor in Utah?

You will need to fill out a qualifying questionnaire focused on your legal and professional background. “Yes” answers will require additional documentation or explanation. The state requires transcripts at any level of licensing; however, you do not need to resubmit them if you already submitted them at a lower level.

Your application packet describes the supplemental materials required for each type of licensing. License seekers can view the state's licensing department and contact information online.

Licensing Fees

The fees you incur for your Utah counseling licensure depend on your area of counseling expertise. The state charges original licensure and renewal fees regardless of the kind of counseling profession you enter. The Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing operates within the state’s Department of Commerce to administer applications for licenses and enforce regulations. It works with some 60 boards and commissions in this role. The state requires a license to verify that individuals meet a minimum set of requirements.

Request Type Fee
Licensed Professional Counselor $120
Associate Licensed Counselor $85
Licensed Professional Counselor Renewal $93
Duplicate or Replacement License $10
License Reactivation $50
Written License Verification $20

Source: DOPL Fees

The Licensing Exam

You will need to take two licensing exams before you can earn professional licensing. The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) administers both the National Counselor Examination (NCE) and the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE).

License seekers need to schedule their exams. You need to send the NBCC a registration form along with official sealed transcripts and a $195 fee. The NBCC will process your fee first, then your application and supporting documentation. You should allow about a month for processing. When you receive your confirmation, you need to call Pearson or visit their website.

Utah uses the computerized version of the test, and sessions typically occur during the first two weeks of each month. You may schedule at the Bountiful, Draper, or Ogden Pearson assessment center or at any other center in the country. Examinees may reschedule once.

Supervised Practice Requirement

License seekers need to complete 4,000 hours of supervised practice as an associate clinical mental health counselor. At least 1,000 hours must occur in mental health therapy. The Utah board defines mental health therapy as carrying out professional evaluations, diagnosing, prescribing a treatment plan, and conducting psychotherapy and appropriate interventions.

Your supervisor may work as a mental health counselor or psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, psychiatric mental health nurse specialist, or marriage and family therapist.

You also need to ensure that your supervisor is approved before you can earn your professional license.

Out of State Counselor Candidates

Those with a license in good standing in another jurisdiction with practice experience may qualify for licensing by endorsement. They need to demonstrate that they possess at least 4,000 hours of active practice as a mental health counselor -- 1,000 of which must have occured in mental health therapy. Those applying for licensure by endorsement also need to submit a verification of active practice as a counselor form. Those who do not qualify for reciprocity but who hold supervised practice hours elsewhere may count them toward the practice requirement provided that the board approves.

License Maintenance and Renewal

Practitioners need to renew their license every two years. During each renewal period, they must complete 40 hours of continuing education, six of which must focus on law or ethics.

Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Utah

  • American Mental Health Counselors Association: The NBCC recognizes the home studies this organization delivers as fulfilling continuing education requirements. Studies include ethics and best practices, as well as specific areas of mental health. Members receive discounts on these courses and webinars.
  • AtHealth.com: This site helps professionals develop the skills needed to demonstrate excellence in the field. Delivered online, courses examine subjects like suicide assessment, ethics and risk management, and cultural competence. Utah mental health counselors may earn up to 10 continuing education credits through the site.
  • NetCE: The NBCC allows Utah counselors to earn continuing education through NetCE. The state accepts the credits if they relate directly to the professional’s area of practice. Counselors may take six continuing-education credits in both ethics and suicide prevention and assessment.

Resources for Counselors

  • StepUp to Higher Education: This resource provides school counselors information that they can share with students preparing for postsecondary academic opportunities. It categorizes resources by grade level and offers counselors downloadable materials.
  • The LGBTQ-Affirmative Psycholtherapist Guild of Utah: This association offers several resources for professionals to support the mental well-being of the state’s sexual and gender minority residents.
  • Utah State Board of Education: This state department provides downloadable, free resources that promote equity and advocacy, support suicide prevention, and help people prepare for college. These resources help both school and vocational counselors.
  • Volunteers of America, Utah: This nonprofit provides volunteer opportunities to support some 10,000 young people and adults in Utah each year.
  • The National Council on Rehabilitation Education: This resource offers a job board for those seeking employment in rehabilitation education. It lists positions available around the world.

Professional Organizations for Counselors

  • Utah Mental Health Counselors Association: This organization remains committed to the education of all mental health professionals to ensure they can practice ethically. It seeks to uphold the code of ethics as well as standards of the procession.
  • The LGBTQ-Affirmative Psycholtherapist Guild of Utah: A grassroots organization for counselors and students who wish to enter the profession, this group provides networking opportunities and courses to earn continuing education credit. Members can exchange knowledge and resources with one another, including through monthly events.
  • Utah School Counselor Association: This association promotes school counseling as a profession and offers support for those in it. In addition, it provides professional development opportunities that help build counselors’ competencies in best practices. Members can also attend conferences that offer sessions with experts in the field.
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