LPC Licensing Requirements in Georgia.
There are GA LPC requirements myths and misinformation that need to be clarified. The primary myths and misinformation about Georgia LPC licensing involve changes in education, work experience and supervision requirements.
There have been changes in GA LPC board Policies that conflict with the rules for how to become licensed.
The other LPC licensing myth is anyone knows precisely how the Georgia board will change the processing of APC/LPC applications.
I believe this article provides the most useful information for submitting your best possible GA LPC/APC application.
If you’re having difficulty with the GA APC/LPC applications process, you may schedule a license diagnosis service with me.
Changes in Georg1a LPC Licensure Law
A law change in Georgia’s LPC licensing law became effective 7/1/22. If you are applying for a Georgia LPC license, this effects you. Georgia’s board has laws and rules. The Georgia Composite Board has always referred licensees to Rules for understanding LPC licensing in Georgia.
So there is now a problem for LPC licensee applicants. The new Law now conflicts with board rules.
The board is writing new Rules. The goal is for them to match the new Law. But those rules are not likely to be effective before May 2023. So which LPC licensure requirements should you follow if you apply today now?
First, this entire article applies to licensing applications for both provisional (APC) and fully licensed LPCs.
In an unprecedented move, the Georgia Board of LPC, SW and MFT has passed Policies to begin enforcing the new Law. Again, the 7/1/22 Law is not connected to any LPC licensing rules. Proposed enforcement falls between the cracks of the law, rules and board policy.
That is a potential dilemma for both the licensing board and APC/LPC applicants.
Also worth noting is the “Petition of Rule Variance or Waiver”. A Rule Variance is a mechanism for both licensees and boards to vary from normal licensing requirements. It is an official action that boards must determine they are unable to grant under board Rules and Law. There is no legal mechanism for policy waivers.
Why Am I Providing You Such Detailed LPC Information?
1) Because you absolutely need to read and understand it to make informed decisions about submitting your GA LPC application.
2) Georgia’s LPC board has never been presented with a challenge of this magnitude as regards issuing licenses.
Still, you can’t control how the board handles your application. The board has been in a bind as well as they grapple with how to enforce the new law.
But as a result there have been inconsistencies in issuing APC and LPC licenses.
Check your application prior to submitting. It should be Immaculate.
The Difference Between Georgia Licensing Board Policies, Rules and Law
Board Policy VIII
Board Policies have normally been implemented for changes made to forms. For example, changes that will make it easier for board staff to read and prepare applications for the board members.
Another example is adding a question to the LPC application to collect needed information. Or moving a section of the licensing application to another location on the page so it flows better.
So Policies have been limited to changing administrative processes. They can be changed by a simple board vote.
Especially, policies can be changed without notice. They are often difficult to locate on the board website.
Theoretically and possibly legally, actual licensing requirements should not be changed through Policies.
This is how the board is attempting to fill the gap between the law and rules that have yet to be written let alone passed: through Policies.
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.
The licensing board does not write the LPC practice Law. They are only charged with enforcing it.
They do not represent LPCs. They are charged with public protection.
Other entities make Law through work with legislators. The primary organization in Georgia that seeks changes in Georgia LPC practice Law is the Licensed Professional Counselors Association of Georgia (LPCAGA).
Their aim is to improve citizen access to mental health treatment and advocate for professional counselors and LPCAGA has been successful in this endeavor.
The board is required to write Rules that clarify LPC Laws. It is not possible to refer licensees to the Law for understanding license requirements because they cannot all be found in Law. So the board writes Rules to fill in the blanks.
The best example is the Georgia LPC code of Ethics. The detailed code of ethics is in board Rules. GA LPC Law on ethics, however, contains a single sentence: “The board shall adopt a code of ethics.”
Current APC/LPC Rules V Policy Change VIII
FIRST: Click on the two links below. They will open in new tabs on your browser. SECOND: Read all of the definitions at the beginning of Rule 135-5. As you read, compare the two columns below. Note the requirements in Policy VIII are directly tied to the date your application is stamped as received by the board.
The columns below are the highlights. They are not a substitute for reading the board Rules on the GA Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists webpage.
Note that the LPC GA policies and board rules conflict:
Comparison For Applicants With Master's Degrees
GA Comp Board Rule 135-5
Minimum master’s degree primarily counseling in content. 600 Hour Practicum as part of graduate degree. Courses from 9 content areas as either part of or after graduate degree.
Years of Post Master’s Directed Work Experience
4 years one of which may be satisfied by the 600 hour internship.
Minimum master’s degree from a program in clinical counseling or counseling psychology that consists of at least 60 semester hours or 80 quarter hours. 600 hour practicum as part of degree program.
Years of Post Master’s Directed Work Experience
3 years one of which may be satisfied by the 600 hour internship.
Additional Requirements For Associate Professional Counselors (APCs)
Registration with the Board of an acceptable contract for obtaining the post-degree experience under direction and supervision that is required for licensure as a professional counselor.
- Definitions of qualified Supervisor and Supervision have not changed.
- Definition of Director, Direction and Directed Experience have not changed
- Unless specified above, no change in definition of Year or Hours of Supervision or Directed Work Experience (DWE).
Choosing a Path. Planning For The Future.
Surviving Future GA LPC Law and Rule Changes.
Graduate Programs in Counseling
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.
Clinical Patient Contact Hours
Georgia’s board does not require you document a specific number of face-to-face- clinical contact hours. This will possibly change to match the requirements of many other states. It would be wise that your job duties include a significant number of clinical contact hours. Again, this is not required but there are instances when the board will ask you to further explain your job duties.