What are the Counselor Licensing Requirements in West Virginia?
The West Virginia Board of Examiners in Counseling issues licenses at two levels. When you fulfill all requirements, you will become a Licensed Professional Counselor or LPC in WV. You will work as a Provisionally Licensed Counselor while fulfilling requirements for supervised practice.
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Select a topic below...
- Education and Curriculum Requirements
- The Application Process
- Supervised practice requirements
- I am a licensed counselor in another state seeking Licensure in WV
- Professionals who can be Licensed Professional Counselors in WV
- Maintaining your license in West Virginia
- Contact information for the Licensing Board, Professional Counseling Organizations and Schools Offering Counseling Degree Programs.
- West Virginia School Counselor Certification Requirements
- West Virginia Rehabilitation Counselor License Requirements
- Substance Abuse Counselor Requirements in West Virginia
In order to attain either full or provisional licensing, you will need 60 semester hours of graduate coursework. You may select from a number of program options, but you will need to meet West Virginia's specific curriculum requirements.
Although you are required to have a degree at at least the master's level, you may do some of the coursework after you receive your initial graduate degree. Generally, you should opt for a program with counseling in the title. Multiple specialties are possible. Learn more about selecting a Master's in Counseling program here. The board lists the following as appropriate:
- Mental health counseling
- Community agency counseling
- Rehabilitation counseling
- Pastoral counseling
- School counseling
- Addictions or substance abuse counseling
Your program/school should hold appropriate accreditation. Possible accrediting agencies include the following:
- Council on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
- National Council on Accreditation for Teacher Education (NCATE)
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
- Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE)
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Your program should include at least three semester hours in each of the following topic areas:
- Counseling theories
- Counseling techniques
- Human growth and development
- Social and cultural foundations
- Individual appraisal
- Professional responsibilities
- Emotional disorders and dysfunctional behavior: etiology, assessment, diagnosis, treatment planning, and prevention
- Addictions counseling
- Group dynamics, processes, counseling, and consulting
- Marriage, couple, and/ or family therapy
- Research and evaluation
- Lifestyle and career development
You will also need a practicum and an internship where you deliver services under appropriate supervision. You can also opt for additional coursework in any of the core areas. You may take courses in any of the following areas to round out your semester hour requirement:
- Human sexuality
- Biological basis of behavior
- Crisis intervention
- Rehabilitation counseling
- Counseling interventions
- Counseling special populations (for example, counseling of children and adolescents, victims of domestic abuse, people with dual diagnoses or co-morbid conditions, sex offenders, forensic populations, geriatric populations)
Supervised Experience in West Virginia
You will need to work under supervision for a specified period of time before you can attain full licensure. If your highest degree is a master’s, you will need 3,000 hours. At least half of your experience must be direct client counseling care.
If you have a doctoral degree, only 1,500 hours of post-degree supervised experience will be required. You will need to apply for a provisional license before you begin accruing hours. Your clinical supervisor must be pre-approved by the board. You are expected to receive an hour of individual supervision for every twenty hours that you practice. If your clinical supervisor is not employed full-time by the same agency that you are, s/he should set up at least two supervision sessions per month.
As a provisionally licensed counselor, you will display a professional disclosure statement at your place of work. Your provisional license is good for 36 months. If you don't complete all your requirements during that period, you may apply for a renewal, which is good for another 24 months. You must continue to work under supervision until you have attained full licensure.
If you must interrupt/ discontinue your supervised practice for a period of six weeks or more, you will need to notify the board within the first month. You must also notify the board if you change supervisors or otherwise deviate from your supervision plan.
You will need to take a licensing exam. Typically this is the National Counselor Examination (NCE), offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. If you have not already taken the NCE, and you are nearing completion of licensing requirements, you will need to get permission from the Board of Examiners in Counseling. Once the board determines that you have met the other requirements, you will receive a registration form. You will fill out the form, sign it in ink, and mail it to the NBCC along with a $195 fee and a copy of your approval letter.
The NBCC will process your materials in about a month and send you confirmation. At that time, you will schedule a computer-based exam through Pearson. You may schedule your exam in Morgantown or Charleston or at any of the other computerized sites around the country.
The West Virginia board will receive your scores approximately four weeks after you test. The board also accepts the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor exam, which is offered by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification. This exam is especially for rehabilitation counselors and is aligned with CORE accredited programs, although there are other routes to eligibility.
If you don't pass your licensing exam on your first attempt, you will be allowed one retake without applying to the board again or taking further education. Anyone who fails three times must document additional education and experience.
The Application Process
Your completed application file will include multiple supporting documents. You will need to supply the board with both professional recommendations and personal references. They must come from separate individuals. (There is an official form for the professional recommendations, but not the personal references.)
You will need to have your graduate transcripts sent directly to the board.
You will need to sign an affidavit of your application and have it notarized. Fees may be made out to “WVBEC”.
Click Here for LPC application forms, other counseling discipline forms and additional materials.
Full instructions are available in CD format. You may send a request to the board along with a $30 fee. Send your request to WVBEC, 815 Quarrier Street, Suite 212, Charleston, West Virginia 25301.
Out of State Applicants
If you hold a full professional license in another jurisdiction, you may be eligible for licensure by reciprocity. You will need to have a certified copy of your file sent to the board. Your file should include examination results.
You will also need to submit two professional recommendations, a completed application, and the applicable fee. You will have your graduate school send transcripts.
Other Professionals who can be Licensed as Counselors
West Virginia’s definition of professional counseling is fairly broad and can encompass different types of counselor as well as some professionals in closely related fields. The American Art Therapy Association reports that West Virginia’s art therapists can be licensed as counselors if they meet the requirements. (This is not a mandate, but a possible option.)
Maintaining a Counselor License in West Virginia
You will need to renew your professional counseling license on odd-numbered years. For your first two renewals, you will be expected to provide documentation of continuing education. Thereafter, you will provide CE documentation only if you are selected for audit.
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 WV.
You may email the program coordinator, Roxanne Clay, at [email protected] with any questions.
Board meetings are open to the public, and you can find a list of upcoming meetings on the site (http://www.wvbec.org/allaboutwvbec/boardmeetingdates.html).
Additionally, you may want to use the West Virginia Licensed Professional Counselors Association or the West Virginia Counseling Association as professional resources.