If you are interested in providing therapeutic counseling in Vermont, you can become credentialed as a licensed clinical mental health counselor (LCMHC). The licensing process requires a master's degree, a period of supervised practice, and passing scores on two licensing exams.
This page outlines how to become a licensed counselor in Vermont, including specific coursework and exams.
Counseling Careers in Vermont
Licensed counselors possess valuable skills that allow them to work in a wide variety of mental healthcare settings. In Vermont, credentialed counselors can choose from many different exciting and fulfilling careers, including educational counseling, marriage therapy, and mental health counseling. Addiction and opioid abuse has become one of the most prevalent mental health issues plaguing Americans today, and the need for substance abuse counseling has consequently increased.
Educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors earn more than many other licensed counselors in Vermont, taking home an average salary of close to $54,000 per year.
- Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors: These counselors advise students on their education and career opportunities. They help students overcome the mental stresses associated with education, and ensure learners excel in school, college, and their job prospects.
- Marriage and Family Therapists: Marriage and family therapists provide counseling for couples and families experiencing challenges. They treat disorders through therapy sessions with individuals, couples, and families.
- Rehabilitation Counselors: Rehabilitation counselors help clients with physical, mental, and developmental disabilities live and work independently. Rehabilitation counselors often work in senior centers, rehabilitation centers, and veterans hospitals.
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: Professionals in this field prevent and treat many different types of mental disorders, including substance abuse, depression, and anxiety. These counselors often work with families or groups.
- Counselors, All Other: These counselors do not fall into one of the main categories of counselors listed above. These professionals treat a wide range of disorders and practice in a variety of settings. They may specialize in a particular age group or population.
|Occupation||Average Salary in Vermont|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||$53,770|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||$47,450|
|Counselors, All Other||$47,110|
Other Professionals Who Can Be Licensed as Counselors
The American Art Therapy Association reports that Vermont art therapists can earn a counselor license as long as they meet all counseling requirements in Vermont.
Education Requirements for Counselors
To obtain a Vermont counselor license, you need a master's degree in counseling or a related field. Students who attend a CACREP-accredited program automatically receive approval. If you do not attend a CACREP program, your degree must hit five of the seven target areas (listed below).
Qualifying Degrees for Counselors in Vermont
At minimum, counseling candidates must have a master's degree. CACREP-accredited programs already meet the coursework and subject requirements for a Vermont counselor license. Regardless of accreditation, students should make sure they complete at least 60 graduate credits in mental health counseling and at least 700 hours of supervised experience. If you have a master's with at least 48 semester hours of coursework, you can earn the remaining units without enrolling in another degree program.
Students who do not attend a CACREP program must ensure their degree includes coursework in certain content areas. The Vermont licensure board requires three graduate credits of diagnosis, assessment, and treatment, and three graduate credits in at least five of the content areas outlined below. You will be allowed to make up the missing requirements later on.
- Human growth and development
- Counseling theories
- Counseling skills
- Professional orientation and ethics
- Treatment modalities
Coursework Required for Licensing
In addition to the subject areas listed above, graduates from non-CACREP programs must also complete certain courses. If your program did not include these classes, the Vermont licensing board allows you to complete the courses after you graduate. You will need three credits in each of the following areas:
- Research and evaluation
- Multicultural studies
- Career development and lifestyle appraisal
Additionally, you must have three graduate credits in at least two of the following content areas:
- Marriage, couple, and family counseling
- Crisis intervention
- Human sexuality for counselors
- Addictive disorders
Online Counseling Programs in Vermont
Aspiring counselors can choose from many online counseling programs in the Vermont area. For example, Northern Vermont University offers an online BA in psychology which introduces students to fundamental concepts in human behavior and development. Southern New Hampshire University's online psychology program boasts concentrations in mental health, child and adolescent development, and addictions.
Many potential counselors choose online programs for the flexibility they afford. Earning a degree online allows students to maintain full-time employment while earning a degree, meaning that working professionals don't have to sacrifice earnings or professional experience by going back to school. Online students with children can easily take courses while raising a family. Online programs are often asynchronous and self-paced, meaning that students can attend lectures and complete assignments whenever best suits their schedule. Ambitious students can complete a degree quickly, while busier professionals may choose to work through the curriculum at a relaxed pace. Additionally, online students often spend less on textbooks, transportation, and housing than their on-campus counterparts.
While some online counseling programs allow students to complete all of their coursework online, others require an in-person component. Accredited programs stress the importance of practical counseling experience, and thus require online students to participate in an internship. However, most schools allow students to complete this component at a facility near their home or workplace.
How Do You Become a Counselor in Vermont?
Once you have earned your degree and completed counselor requirements, you can apply for a license. The application includes questions about your experience and professional fitness. You also need to attest that you are in good standing with regard to child support, taxes, and court fines. Click here to download the application for Vermont. The application fee is $125, and you can submit the form online.
Each state licensing board requires counselors to pay fees in order to cover the costs of processing a license application or renewal. Below you can find a table outlining the various fees that counselors must pay in order to apply for and maintain their credentials in Vermont. You only have to pay the fees relevant to your specialization and license.
|Clinical Mental Health Counselor Application Fee||$125|
|Clinical Mental Health Counselor Biennial Renewal||$150|
|Marriage and Family Therapist Application Fee||$125|
|Marriage and Family Therapist Biennial Renewal||$150|
The Licensing Exam
Before obtaining your license, you need to pass two licensing examinations, both of which are offered through the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). You may be able to take the National Counselor Examination (NCE) while still a student if you attend a properly accredited program.
If you have already taken the NCE, you need to send verification to the Vermont board. After graduation, you can take the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE).
You need to seek authorization from the Vermont board to take any licensing exam you have not previously completed. In this case, you should submit your transcripts and course descriptions.
The registration process is essentially the same for the NCE and the NCMHCE. You will send a copy of your approval letter from the Vermont board to the NBCC, along with the registration form and appropriate fees. Each exam costs $195.
You must wait for approval from the NBCC before scheduling your exam. You may opt to take the exam at any of the computer-based testing locations. The only Vermont testing center is located in South Burlington, but there are also sites in neighboring states. The NCE and the NCMHCE are scheduled during the first two weeks of each month.
Supervised Practice Requirement
You need to work under supervision for at least two years and accrue a minimum of 3,000 hours before you can become professionally licensed. At least 2,000 of these hours must include direct client services. You may begin accruing hours once you have finished your degree requirements, even if you have not actually graduated yet. Before you can begin practice, however, you need to be entered on the roster of non-licensed and non-certified psychotherapists.
Over the course of your supervised practice, you need at least 100 hours of face-to-face supervision. At least 50 of the supervision hours must feature individual mentorship. Supervisory sessions should occur at regular intervals. You should not accrue more than thirty practice hours without at least an hour of supervision.
You may undergo supervision from a psychiatrist, psychologist, psychiatric nurse practitioner, independent clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, or other individual with equivalent training. Your supervisor will not be your employer, but another professional who takes responsibility for your professional development. Ultimately, your supervisor will make a recommendation to the board about your qualifications as a counselor.
Out of State Counselor Candidates
Counselors with an out-of-state license need to obtain verification from any state where they have held a license. The verification form includes questions about the state's licensing standards, as well as the license itself. You may be eligible for licensure through endorsement or through the "five-year rule." Counselors with at least five years of active practice under license in the United States or Canada may earn a license even if the states' requirements are not substantially equivalent.
If you apply under the five year rule, you need a letter stating your qualifications and experience. Out-of-state candidates who do not meet the five year rule can receive a reciprocal license if their jurisdiction maintains substantively equivalent licensing standards. However, these candidates must take the second licensing exam if their municipality required only one NBCC test. You need to forward a copy of your state's statutes to the Vermont board to demonstrate equivalency.
Subject to legislative approval, counselors may also demonstrate that they have met licensing standards through a registration with a national registry of the American Association of State Counseling Boards.
License Maintenance and Renewal
You must renew your mental health counseling license every two years. During each renewal cycle, you need to complete 40 hours of approved continuing education, including four hours of professional ethics. You should retain records of your continuing education for a full four years.
Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Vermont
- Healthcare Training Institute: The Healthcare Training Institute provides continuing education units approved by the NBCC. The institute offers online courses in various mental health fields, including counseling and marriage and family therapy. Counselors can opt for video and audio courses in topics like couples' therapy, anger management, and ethical boundaries.
- Brattleboro Retreat: Founded in 1834, Brattleboro Retreat is a mental health center that treats a variety of conditions, including addiction, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. The center hosts continuing education conferences for mental health professionals in the area. These workshops inform counselors about recent research findings in addiction and mental health care.
- University of Vermont Graduate Counseling Program: Counselors may choos pode to complete their continuing education requirements through graduate-level counseling courses. The University of Vermont's MS in counseling prepares students for work in a variety of healthcare settings, including schools and mental health facilities. Students may opt for either the school counseling or the mental health counseling track.
Resources for Counselors
- Vermont Board of Allied Mental Health: Vermont's Board of Allied Mental Health oversees counselor licensure in the state. Through its website, counselors and counseling students can learn about requirements, review renewal laws, and access forms.
- NBCC Examinations: Through this website, counseling students can locate important information about the two counseling exams necessary for licensure in Vermont. Students can also access study guides and order their scores.
- NBCC Approved Continuing Education Providers: This page serves as a directory for continuing education opportunities and providers approved by the NBCC. Counselors can browse opportunities or search for providers by name, location, or education format.
- American Association of State Counseling Boards: This organization offers information on laws, regulations, and ethical matters relevant to counselors and state counseling boards. Counselors can view newsletters and a directory of state counseling boards.
- Vermont Department of Mental Health: This department seeks to improve the mental health and well-being of Vermonters. Through this site, counselors and counseling students can learn about events, healthcare providers, and the overall state of mental health in Vermont.
Professional Organizations for Counselors
- Vermont Mental Health Counselors Association: The Vermont Mental Health Counselors Association is the state's chapter of the American Mental Health Counselors Association. The group advocates on behalf of Vermont's licensed counselors, hosts continuing education and professional development workshops, and publishes newsletters about developments in the field. The organization also provides free ethics advice to members.
- American Counseling Association: Founded in 1932, the American Counseling Association supports mental health professionals in the U.S. through advocacy and professional development opportunities. The association also promotes ethical standards and culturally inclusive practices within the counseling field. Members gain access to a job center, an annual conference, and free online courses.
- Vermont Psychological Association: The Vermont affiliate of the American Psychological Association serves as one of the main professional organizations for psychologists and other mental health professionals in the state. Founded in 1950, the association's mission is to support the advancement of psychology in Vermont, and to improve the mental health and well-being of Vermonters.