GA LPC Requirements: Clarifying Myths and Misinformation
Table of Contents
Updated 9/1/2023 to include proposed rule 2023 changes. Watch this page for updates.
There are nearly as many myths and misinformation about Georgia LPC requirements as accuracies.
Licensing Myth 1: The Composite Board of PC, SW and MFT wrote the July 1 2022 law.
False. The state counselors professional association which represents Georgia LPCs, the Licensed Professional Counselors Association of Georgia (LPCAGA) drafted the amended law.
The Composite Board is prohibited from making law and in many states professional associations or other stakeholders write licensing legislation.
As a GA LPC, try to review LPCAs work on the law before it is presented to legislators. Once passed, laws are difficult to change.
LPCAGA in collaboration with their lobbyists promoted and amended the law change. The board needs to pass rule changes to align them with that law.
The Enormous Impact of The Proposed LPC Rule Changes
When the board needs to ask for additional information, it lengthens the turnaround time on processing LPC licensing applications. Denials also create complications and frustrations for both the applicant and the composite board.
Licensing Myth 2: GA LPC Degrees must be CACREP accredited.
False. But the 2023 rules seek to change this. This is long-held misinformation. If all other degree requirements are met, Georgia’s Composite Board does accept counseling degrees with other regional accreditation.
The Rule Changes: Highlights
The most dramatic changes in the proposed rules are:
1) Who can supervise you.
2) Who can be your boss/director.
3) Which directed experience settings the board will approve.
4) Who is prohibited from supervising you.
5) Proving you have completed a minimum number of hours in direct counseling and psychotherapy.
6) Changes in graduate degree requirements.
Licensing Myth 3: The 2023 proposed rule changes for APC/LPC will become effective shortly.
False. The proposed rules have gone back to committee and will likely change. If so, it could be many months before any proposed rules actually become effective. The board will likely need at least a few months to revise and draft.
Licensing Myth 4: The Composite Board Is Not Obligated To Board Rules.
False. Board Rules are legally binding not only upon licensees, but upon the board. Licensees must follow the Rules. The Georgia Composite Board cannot break it’s own Rules.
Licensing Myth 5: GA LPC applicants must acquire a minimum number of clinical contact hours.
False. As currently written, clinical work and activities related to delivering services are considered collectively. (the board has sometimes required applicants to present evidence of clinical contact but this is unique to an application).
However, the proposed rule change will seek to change that to require a minimum number of actual clinical contact, counseling and psychotherapy.
Two New Rule Definitions
Direct Work Experience and Indirect Work Experience
First, when seeking to understand licensing rules, start by reading the Definitions. If you understand the Definitions, it is much easier to understand the rules!
Chapter 135-5. REQUIREMENTS FOR LICENSURE
Georgia’s Composite Board rules are divided into 13 sections. For example, 135-7 is “Code of Ethics”.
GA Chapter 135-5 is the rules section impacted by the 5/2023 proposed changes.
Chapter 135-5 has always contained a definition, “Directed Work Experience”. Under the proposed rules sub definitions, “Direct Work Experience” and “Indirect Work Experience” have been added. In short, applicants would be now be required to obtain a minimum number of work hours in clinical contact.
“Direct work experience” includes clinical work and psychoeducation.
“Indirect work experience” includes paperwork, documentation and case management.
Licensing Myth 6: GA LPC Supervisors must hold the CPCS credential.
False. The fundamental definition of “qualified supervisor” has by and large, not changed for many years. The 2023 proposed rules seek to maintain current LPC supervisor requirements.
Generally, supervisors must be licensed for a minimum of 3 years. The board accepts the NBCC Approved Clinical Supervisor (ACS) credential. This credential is accepted by 15 state licensure boards:
Further, every state and U.S. territory relies upon NBCC to administer the NCE and NCMHCE licensing examinations so the credentials they issue are the gold standard.
Georgia’s Counseling board also accepts supervisors who hold the LPCAGA Certified Professional Counselor Supervisor credential.
The board sometimes makes exceptions to accepting a supervisor for applications by endorsement since the CPCS is a Georgia-only credential, out-of-state supervisors do not have the CPCS and it is not formally recognized by other state counselor licensing boards.
Also, exceptions are made since relatively few supervisors have obtained the rigorous national NBCC ACS supervision credential.
Fortunately, there are a few Supervisors who hold both the state and national credential.
Supervisor and Director Cannot Be The Same Person
What has changed in these proposed rules is strict limitations on the relationship between the Supervisor and Director. The Supervisor could no longer also be the Director. The supervisor, director and supervisee must have wholly independent relationships.
Exclusions include no family members, no friends, nobody who has any form of financial stake. The supervisor and director could no longer be connected in any manner which would create a conflict of interest. Financial interests include arrangements when supervision is offered in exchange for supervisee compensation.
The restriction of the boss/supervisor relationship greatly impacts work settings the board would accept for licensure.
Tight Restrictions on Acceptable Directed Work Experience
Whereas, the board does not specifically exclude 1099 employment, the rule change could have a similar result. Accepted Directed Work Experience would likely include organizations that have state government contracts in public mental health or state corrections facilities where the applicant might be issued a 1099 and private residential treatment facilities.
Reduced Number of Required Months For Licensure
The proposed rules echo the new law reducing number of years required down to two for applicant’s with eligible master’s degrees. But for practical reasons, you may need to complete 3 years anyway:
The rule also increases the number of supervision hours over a two year period from 70 to 100. Consider that this would also require a much greater frequency of supervision sessions.
More Stringent Educational Requirements
The board is currently enforcing through policy, the requirement of a 60 semester hour or a 80 quarter hour master’s degree.
Previously applicants with a 48 semester hour master’s degree could be eligible for licensure. Missing courses could be completed post master’s.
The proposed rule would seek to eliminate 48 semester hour degrees regardless of whether they are primarily counseling in content.
Moving this from informal policy to formal rule would make this change fully enforceable.
The proposed LPC rule changes would restrict degree programs to clinical mental health or counseling psychology degrees. This rule would impact applicants with School Counseling degrees.
There is also a grandfathering provision that degrees received on or after 5/1/2026 would need to be CACREP accredited.
Where Do These Proposed Changes Stand As of Today?
When Georgia’s board of PC, SW and MFT wants to make rule changes, three things must occur before they become effective:
1) The board drafts rules. This often takes many months.
2) The board must post proposed rule changes for public input.
3) If after public input, the board wants to proceed with the rules as written, there is a waiting period.
4) The governor must sign the rules.
5) There is a 21 day waiting period before the rules become effective.
The board held a public hearing on 8/11/23 to address the 2023 rule changes. Members of the public were given the opportunity for input including objections. The board voted to reconsider the rules. The LPC Standards Committee will work on the rules.
If a single word of a GA licensing board’s rules is changed, the process begins again. In the case of the Composite Board’s proposed changes “clock” has been returned to zero.
General Rationale for the Proposed Rule Changes
Ensuring adequate training in delivering psychotherapy.
Many states require counselors to obtain minimum hours in direct client contact (for example, Pennsylvania’s counseling board requires that at least half of supervised clinical experience is delivery of direct counseling and psychotherapy).
Georgia’s board does not specifically require in rule a minimum number of hours in clinical contact. The board has often enforced licensees prove significant hours are delivering therapy, but this rule change would make it official.
Achieving National Uniformity of LPC Licensing Training Requirements
Georgia’s Composite Board of PC, SW and MFT is aiming to achieve uniformity so licensees can join the Counseling Compact. The implementation of the Counseling Compact would pave the way for telemental health opportunities across state lines. Specifically, many states permit applicants to obtain their licenses without being tied to a yearly clock provided they meet all other licensing requirements. In contrast, Georgia’s board currently does not permit you to rush the clock. Regardless of your work and supervision hours, you are tied to number of required months or years. Georgia’s board wants to remedy these differences in licensing requirements.
Additional Board Workload of Mediating Supervisor/Supervisee Conflict and Investigating Complaints
Georgia’s Counseling board handles many problematic licensing issues resulting from conflicts of interest and boundary issues. Another example of a conflict is supervisors exerting their employment authority as director/boss by refusing to sign supervision forms. They have power to not recommend if that person also serves as supervisor.
For example, “Alicia, you were a competent therapist but since you violated company policy, as your supervisor I refuse to recommend you for licensure.”
Note: Peer conflicts are resulting in lawsuits by LPC supervisees against supervisors.
Uniformity of Master's Degree Counselor Education Requirements
Many other states already require 60 semester hour Master’s degrees. The board is further scrutinizing work in the school system to determine whether the job duties provide adequate experience in delivering counseling and psychotherapy.
Choosing a Path. Planning For The Future.
Surviving Future GA LPC Law and Rule Changes.
Still shopping for schools? It is best to have a plan that will help you become licensed even if law and rules change. If you have not yet selected your graduate degree:
Choose a CACREP accredited graduate program in either mental health counseling, clinical mental health, or counseling psychology.
Be sure it is a 60 semester or 80 quarter hour degree program.
Degree programs such as school counseling or educational psychology may not be accepted by Georgia’s Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists. The board wants to be sure your education fully prepares you to deliver psychotherapy even at the independent private practice setting.
Some state boards issue a separate school counselor license.
Professional Counselor Examination Requirements
Register and pass NBCC’s National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). Whereas, Georgia’s Composite Board accepts the National Counselor Examination (NCE) there is movement towards requiring the NCMHCE as it is required by numerous other states for LPC licensing.
Approved Supervised Work Setting
Plan, plan and plan.
It’s important to have a road map for meeting all of Georgia’s board post master’s worksite requirements.
Prior to accepting a job or clinical supervisor, consult with someone who thoroughly understands the LPC licensing requirements in GA.
There are specific conditions and definitions for what are acceptable job sites, job duties and qualified Supervisors and Supervision. The current requirements can be found at GA Rule chapter 135-5.