How to Become an LPC 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 your unique situation.
If you like, I can make it even easier if you register for my “Learn Georgia LPC Requirements in 90 Minutes or Less”. Do it now.
Visit this page often because I update it as licensing news becomes available.
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 will be denied. 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:
Educational and Course Requirements
Degree Program Accreditation
Does Georgia’s Composite Board require you degree be CACREP accredited? No.
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.
Since at least 2016, Georgia’s Composite Board has pondered the matter of accreditation.
It is difficult to predict whether the board will change this rule.
Interestingly, the two other licenses regulated by the composite board – social work and marriage and family therapy- are required by GA law to be specifically accredited. Such is not the case with professional counseling.
Acceptable Masters Degree Programs
*A minimum masters degree is required for state licensure. It is not possible to become licensed with a bachelors degree or less. With a state license you can start a private practice.*
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.
An example of an unacceptable degree is Sociology. Whereas some of the courses may have a focus on social systems, the board does not consider this primarily counseling in content.
Board rules allow for individuals with psychology degrees to become licensed as LPCs. It must be a program in applied psychology. Degree titles vary, but programs in experimental or research psychology are not acceptable.
In short, the program curricula courses must teach principles for delivering counseling and psychotherapy.
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).
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.
Other Levels of Degrees
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 three year program.
The primary advantage to having a specialist or doctoral degree is the board requires fewer years of supervised experience.
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
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. The page will open in a new window. Attest to the copyright agreement. The page a new page will open. Click on the highlighted link and locate detailed descriptions of the courses you are required to complete.
Regardless of your type of degree you must meet all of these course requirements. *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.
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 is 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
There are two main components of LPC supervised experience in Georgia: Supervision and 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:
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.
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:
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?
First, understand the basic definition of one year of post masters directed work experience under supervision. The number of years required depends on your degree level and whether you completed a practicum and internship in your program.
A year is 12 months. You can’t you rush the clock. 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.
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.
Eligible 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 practicum and internship as part of your degree program, you only need 3 years of directed experience under supervision. 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.
Summary: Important Hot Tips
Accumulation of Directed Experience
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.
Submitting a Killer LPC Application
Now that you understand Georgia’s LPC licensing requirements, learn the art of reading board rules.