Requirements for Licensure of Mental Health Practitioners in Virginia

Virginia has one level of licensing for mental health counselors: Licensed Professional Counselor, or LPC. You can become an LPC by meeting education and examination requirements and completing a post-master residency.

Contact the Virginia Board of Counseling by emailing [email protected] or calling (804) 367-4610 with any questions or if you would like to verify that you are on the correct path.

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Required Education for an LPC in Virginia

You will need to complete a master's or doctoral level program. The Virginia Board of Counseling recognizes programs that have been accredited by CACREP (the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs) and CORE (the Council on Rehabilitation Education). Other programs may also be deemed acceptable. Learn more about selecting a Master's in Counseling program here. You will need to demonstrate coursework in the following twelve areas:

  • Professional identity, function and ethics
  • Theories of counseling and psychotherapy
  • Counseling and psychotherapy techniques
  • Human growth and development
  • Group counseling and psychotherapy, theories and techniques
  • Career counseling and development theories and techniques
  • Appraisal, evaluation and diagnostic procedures
  • Abnormal behavior and psychopathology
  • Multicultural counseling, theories and techniques
  • Research
  • Diagnosis and treatment of addictive disorders
  • Marriage and family systems theory

You will also need to complete a supervised internship of at least 600 hours. It must include, at minimum, 240 hours of direct client contact. Some curricular requirements have been in place only since April 12, 2000. If you completed your 60 semester hours before that time, the board will accept them provided they met the curriculum policies that were in place at the time.

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Supervised Practice/ Residency

You will do 4,000 hours of work while under supervision. You will need to complete 2,000 hours of direct client counseling during this time. Before beginning supervised practice, you will submit a form to the board that clearly shows that you will be delivering counseling treatment interventions as defined by the state of Virginia. You will not be able to accrue hours until your supervisory plan has been approved. You will also submit supporting documents, including educational verification, and pay the requisite fee.

It is now necessary to register your supervision even if you work in an exempt setting. (This helps ensure that you will meet licensing requirements later.)

You will be supervised by a professional who has at two years of post-license experience and specific training in clinical supervision. You will need at least 200 hours of supervisory sessions. At least 100 hours of individual clinical supervision must be provided by a professional counselor. The remaining supervision hours may be provided by a professional counselor, substance abuse practitioner, clinical psychologist, school psychologist, clinical social worker, or psychiatrist. Your clinical supervisor(s) will provide one to four hours of direct supervision per forty hours of work. No more than half of your total supervision hours may be in a group setting. Your supervisor will fill out a quarterly supervisory report. She or he will fill out additional paperwork and make evaluations at the end of your supervisory period.

There are specific issues that must be covered in your supervisory sessions and specific competencies that must be evaluated. They fall under the following general categories: counseling and psychotherapy techniques, appraisal, evaluation and diagnostic procedures, treatment planning and implementation, case management and record keeping, professional identity and function, and professional ethics and standards of practice. You will find a copy of competencies in your application packet (available on the board site).

Supervised practice completed as part of a graduate internship may count up to 600 hours toward your total 4,000 hour practice requirement provided that certain conditions are met. (Up to 900 may be counted if you were in a CACREP- or CORE- accredited program). Your faculty or clinical supervisor will need to meet licensing requirements set by the board. The internship cannot be begun until you have completed 30 semester hours of graduate study. You will need at least 20 hours of on-site supervision and at least 20 hours of off-site supervision. On-site supervision must be individual, but either group or individual supervision is acceptable for the off-site requirement.

You will fill out the “Verification of Internship Hours towards the Residency” form if you believe your internship hours meet eligibility requirements and you wish to have them counted. If you are in a combined program (earning a master's en route to a higher degree) you may work toward your supervised practice requirements once you have met the internship requirement -- so long as you have earned at least 30 semester hours and completed coursework in particular content areas.

You must have at least three semester hours (four quarter hours) in each of the following content areas before beginning supervised practice:

  • Professional function, identity, and ethics
  • Theories of counseling and psychotherapy
  • Techniques of counseling and psychotherapy
  • Procedures of appraisal, evaluation, and diagnosis
  • Abnormal behavior and psychopathology

You will also need to have completed your 600 hour internship. You will identify yourself as Resident in Counseling while you are completing requirements for professional licensure. If you did supervisied hours out of state, or plan to, you will fill out the “Verification of Licensure of Out of State Supervisor form.


In order to be licensed as a professional counselor, you will need to take the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination; if you are getting your initial license in Virginia, taking the exam is one of the final steps before licensing. You will receive your authorization and registration form by submitting your application and required documentation to the Commonwealth of Virginia. You will then mail your registration form to the National Board for Certified Counselors. It must be accompanied by a $190 fee. It will take approximately a month for the NBCC to process your materials and send you email and postcard confirmation. At this point, you will visit or call 888-519-9901 to schedule an exam. This may be done at your convenience. Exams are computer-based, and sessions are offered the first two full weeks of the month. The exam is offered in Virginia in Fredericksburg, Norfolk, Richmond, and Roanoke. Approximately four weeks after you take the exam, your scores will be received by Virginia's Board of Counseling.

The Application Process

Your completed application will include multiple supplementary documents. You will need to sign an affidavit that you read and understood Virginia's counseling laws and regulations.

The application itself will include questions about ethics. If you answer any in the affirmative, you will need to provide explanation and documentation in a sealed envelope marked "ethics". You will need official sealed transcripts documenting your graduate education. You will make your check or money order out to Treasurer of Virginia. Application materials are to be sent to the following address:

Board of Counseling
9960 Mayland Dr., Suite 300
Henrico, Virginia 23233

Out of State Applicants

If you have ever held licensing in another jurisdiction, you will need to submit license verification. This must confirm that you have no current unresolved actions; your past record will be considered on a case by case basis.

You may choose one of two routes:

  • You may show that you meet Virginia's current requirements or
  • You may show that you met the requirements of your own jurisdiction at the time you were licensed and that you have been in active practice.

You will need to demonstrate post-licensure practice during five of the six previous years.

If you are eligible for endorsement, you will not be required to take another licensing exam. If you are registered with of the American Association of State Counseling Boards, this can be accepted in lieu of transcripts and documentation of supervised practice.

Other Professionals who may be Licensed as Counselors in VIrginia

If you’re in a related field (for example, art therapy), and you want to be licensed as a professional counselor, you will need to show that you have met the same curricular requirements.

Maintaining Your License

You will need to renew your LPC license every year. During this time, you must complete 20 hours of continuing education. At least two of these must pertain to ethical or legal considerations. You will need to retain records for two years after the renewal cycle ends. The board recommends that you use a Continuing Education Summary Form to keep track of your continuing education. If you are selected for audit, you will need to turn in this form, in addition to other documentation of continuing education.

Additional Information

If you are still in High School, hold a High School Diploma/GED, or hold a bachelor's degree, check out suggested steps to take along the path to becoming a counselor in Virginia.

You may reach the Virginia Board of Counseling by emailing [email protected] or calling (804) 367-4610.

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