Georgia LPC Requirements: Plain and Simplified

GA-LPC-Requirements

9/15/22- Changes in GA LPC Requirements

9/15/22- Georgia’s Composite Licensing Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists is officially enforcing the new APC and LPC licensing requirements via the review and processing of applications.

Specifically, completion of an eligible masters degree and 60 semester hours. The changes are codified in new law. The board’s recent objective was to wait until policy changes are formally passed, but policy change can be implemented by simple board vote. This recent action cannot be found in board policy or board rules. It can only be found in law. So how can you know how to apply for your license?

It is unknown how or if they will continue to enforce this law or how individual cases will be handled. 

This action is directly related to my discussion below. Please continue reading:

8/9/22- The GA Comp Board has released LPC licensing policy changes posted for public input. The proposed policies are that applicants with master’s degrees will be required to obtain “2 years of post masters directed experience under supervision in a work setting acceptable to the board”. 

This would reduce by one year the requirements for work experience and supervision. This is also impactful for out of state applicants attempting to meet Georgia’s stringent LPC licensing requirements. 

Degrees will require an internship. Though there are a few semantic changes, the above definition has not changed. 

It is important you read these proposed policy changes carefully. Read them, but don’t read into them. Square it up with existing licensing requirements and it will answer many of your other questions and clarify confusion about supervision and work requirements. 

When Exactly Will The New Rules Become Effective?

**When the new law becomes effective is difficult to determine. Be assured I will update this page as I gain a clearer understanding of how and when the board changes rules enforcement.** 

“Becomes effective” means when the board begins processing applications differently. In other words, when they begin denying applications if applicants do not meet the newly stated requirements. 

There are logistics the board will need to resolve.

Georgia’s Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists has normally referred licensees to board rules for understanding how to become licensed. The traditional response to licensees who contact the board with most questions, is ‘please review to rule number…’ It is the fundamental source the board uses to convey all issues related to anything practice related. 

Now the board is referring licensees to a new Board law for all practice requirements and the law conflicts with board rules. 

Cautions About LPC Licensing in Georgia

Georgia’s LPC licensing process can be confusing. You have likely encountered conflicting information on how to get licensed. I will simply it for you, yet provide enough detail so you can understand how it all applies to your situation. Every licensee’s situations are different. 

It is important to plan well in advance of submitting your licensing application. If you don’t meet proper exam, educational requirements, or supervised experience your application may not be approved. 

If denied, in some cases it may not be practical to further pursue an LPC license in Georgia. So plan, plan, plan! Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Out of State Applicants

These Requirements Apply To You Too

Most states endorsement processes are similar. You must submit documentation that demonstrates equivalency to that state’s LPC requirements. 

The primary difference is you may not need to repeat your work and supervision hours.

Educational and Course Requirements

Degree Program Accreditation

Does Georgia’s Composite Board require you degree be CACREP accredited? This appears to have been tested by the board. 

The program may be accredited by either the Council on Higher Education Association (CHEA) the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) or Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs  (CACREP.)

Should I Plan For My Degree to Be CACREP Accredited

Still shopping for schools? If you have not yet selected your graduate degree, be safe and choose a CACREP accredited program. Georgia’s Licensing Board Requirements are overall becoming more stringent.

The new law provides the board greater discretion for degree program accreditation. The board could enforce degree program requirements more strictly…or more loosely. 

Acceptable Masters Degree Programs

A minimum masters degree is required for state licensure.

Georgia’s Composite Board rules and law state that the program must be “primarily counseling in content”. Examples of acceptable degrees include Professional Counseling, Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

In short, the program curricula must teach principles for delivering counseling and psychotherapy.

Acceptable program content and degrees may be enforced differently (more stringently). This is because of a change in language in HB 972 approved by governor Brian Kemp on 5/2/22.

The law will permit Georgia’s board to exclude certain degrees from eligibility. Again the board has not yet changed enforcement of this law.

Rehabilitation Counseling

**Outdated Paragraph* Georgia’s board licenses rehabilitation counselors as LPC’s (some states have Licensed Rehabilitation Counselors). An example of an acceptable degree is a Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling. In addition, you must also be a certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC). In some instances, a CRC is an acceptable supervisor provided they are board acceptable supervisors. There are other differences in licensing requirements for Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling. For example, you can reduce your directed experience and supervision requirements by one year.

Education Specialists and PhD Graduates

Generally there are three levels of acceptable education: a masters, a doctorate or a specialist degree. For example a Education Specialist (EdS) degree is a longer. 

An advantage to having a specialist or doctoral degree is the board requires fewer years of supervised experience.

LPC/APC Course Requirements

Again, there appears to have been fundamental changes with coursework requirements.  Now that you have reviewed your degree and accreditation, you must have also completed required courses. For example, if you have a Masters in Counseling that is CORE accredited, you’re good to go IF you meet the following.

Human Growth and Development

Multicultural Counseling or Diversity Training

Counseling Techniques or Skills

Group Dynamics and Group Counseling/Psychotherapy

Lifestyle and Career Development

Appraisal/Assessment of Individuals

Research Methods and Evaluation

Professional Orientation/ Ethics

Psychopathology

Confirming Your Program Meets Board Course Requirements

With a copy of your transcript in front of you, review Composite Board Rules Chapter 135-5, Requirements for Licensure.  

Regardless of your type of degree you must meet all of these course requirements. *Outdated* Review carefully curricula for Rehabilitation Counseling. Some of these programs do not include all required courses.*

This is a very important step so don’t skip it–compare the courses on your transcript to those in the board rule requirements. If the titles match, then you likely have met course requirements. Your appraisal/ assessment course may be a titled as a psychological testing course. Your research methods and evaluations might be titled as a statistics course.

And you can’t apply a single course more than once. 

Courses Don’t Match Board Requirements

Some of your course titles may be different. Read the course descriptions in your school bulletin and retain a copy as this is primary source information for that course. The course bulletin and syllabi are the university bible for purposes of accreditation. 

Also, keep a copy of all your course syllabi. Georgia’s board will often request this as proof of course eligibility.

Be sure the instructional content matches board course requirements for LPC licensure. Selecting a CACREP accredited program in counseling will most likely require you to complete all courses required to meet Georgia LPC requirements.

Coursework may be completed during the program or after the degree was conferred. Some programs do not require a course in diagnosing. 

It is best to choose a program that offers all required courses. It can be difficult to piece together individual courses after graduation. 

Even worse, it is difficult if not impossible to find a practicum/internship that is not part of a degree program.

Post Masters Training Requirements

Summary of Highlights

There are two main components of LPC supervised experience in Georgia: Supervision and Directed Experience.

Directed Experience

Directed Experience is your job or employer. It is the time you spend in work as a professional counselor. It must include a formal structure. In short, it must have all the elements of employment. A boss, a company, policies and procedures, W-2 or 1099 compensation, hiring and termination.

Georgia’s Composite board scrutinizes work settings (many counselors were working in work settings that are private practice that provide little or no employer/employee oversight).

If you are considering accepting a job with questionable structure, the board considers these on a case by case basis (for example, you may be interested in obtaining your supervised experience at a small group practice of other licensed mental professionals). 

In all cases, you must document that someone will monitor your work and can terminate you.

This oversight means activities performed by a Director who meets specific requirements:

Director

Essentially this is your boss and often the person directly above you in the chain of command. There are no education requirements. No degree, no diploma, nothing– it is the individual who has the authority to discipline, hire and fire you.

The only requirement is they understand and agree to –in writing– to support your pursuit of LPC licensure and provide oversight of the directed experience.

LPC Supervision

Supervision is defined as “…the direct clinical review for the purpose of training or teaching by a Supervisor of a Professional Counselor’s interaction with their clients.”. 

Supervision can be provided at the place of employment or off-site with a private Supervisor. It can be provided for a fee or for free. Supervision can be provided via distance technologies or face-to-face. 

Supervision may include but is not limited to case presentation, direct observation or reviewing the counselor’s clinical documentation.

Supervision are activities performed by another licensed mental health professional Supervisor who has specific qualifications:

Supervisor (aka Clinical Supervisor)

An LPC Supervisor must be a licensed mental health professional in Georgia. Georgia’s licensing board accepts five types of state licensed mental health professionals:

• Psychiatrists- minimum requirement is state license to practice medicine

• Psychologists- minimum requirement is state license to practice psychology

• Professional Counselors- if Supervisor has a Masters degree, minimum 3 years licensed.

• Clinical Social Workers- if Supervisor has a Masters degree, minimum 3 years licensed.

• Marriage and Family Therapists- if Supervisor has a Masters degree, minimum 3 years licensed.

Year Requirements for Supervision and Directed Experience

What is a Year?

Number of years required will be reduced by one year dependent on your level of degree. Again, this will likely not become effective for many months. I’ll let you know when it does. I will release it in an enewsletter so sign up for that or message me in the chat box below providing me your name and email address. You will receive the news first and before others if you want me to send SMS/TEXT notifications.

A year is 12 months. You can’t you rush the clock. In some states you can obtain 3000 hours of work experience in a time frame that can be reduced. For each month, you must be under supervision while in a board approved directed experience work setting. In other words, simultaneously. 

Work without supervision is not allowed and the board will disallow these months.  

However, you have 20 months to obtain that one year. This allows for unforeseen lapses in employment.

During that 12-20 month year, you must obtain 1000 hours of work performing counseling and psychotherapy and 35 hours of Supervision. 

If you have a masters degree you must complete four years of Directed Experience under Supervision however an eligible internship equals one of those years. *Outdated. please await changes to this paragraph.*

Simply multiply the above definition by the number of years required for your license application. 

For example, two years is a minimum of 24 months but you have 40 months to meet that two year work setting requirement. And you need 70 hours of supervision. Same for three years and so on.

Minimum Two Years Supervision by LPC Supervisor

If you have a masters degree a minimum of two of the four years must be provided by an Eligible LPC Supervisor.

Specific To LPC Supervisors: Additional Requirements

In additional to the minimum three years post licensure requirement, LPC Supervisors in Georgia must hold one of the following supervision credentials:

• The certified Professional Counselor Supervisor (CPCS). This credential is issued and maintained by the Licensed Professional Counselors Association of Georgia (LPCA). 

• The Approved Clinical Supervisor (ACS) credential issued by the National Board for certified Counselors (NBCC).

The board processes out-of-state supervision and LPC reciprocity/transfer on a case by case basis.

A Practicum/Internship In Lieu of a Year

If you completed a 600 hour and eligible practicum and internship as part of your degree program, you only need 3 years of directed experience under supervision if you have a masters degree. 

If your practicum/internship supervisor was also an Eligible LPC Supervisor, then you will only need one additional year of LPC Supervision.

Another advantage of completing a 600 hour internship is that counts as one full year even though most internships are only 8-9 months in duration.

Important Hot Tips

Ensure both directed experience and supervision hours are evenly distributed. The board may ask you to explain why you received ten hours of supervision over one month, then no supervision over the next three months.

The same applies to directed experience years. Spread them out. If you worked 2000 hours in year one and 300 hours in year two, the board may also question this.

You deserve a former licensing board president on your side.

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