What Is The Counseling Compact?


The information below answers questions about the counseling compact in detail. The status of which states have passed or have pending compact legislation is not current and will be updated soon.

Important Compact Law Definitions

No, these are not licenses. Whereas most of the states’ new compact laws indicate the “Privilege to Practice” is “equivalent to a state license”, it is not. In many ways it has a similar effect as a license but:

The privilege to practice is not a stand-alone legal right to practice. It is dependent upon the LPC or counselor having an unrestricted license for independent practice in at least one state. 

Also, there is an unresolved and unknown issue of whether counselors whose state does not permit diagnosis will be eligible for the Privilege To Practice.

It is difficult to know how the compact law will actually be enforced in each state. 

States may require specific telemental health training for LPCs. 

It is likely that many states will be able to participate in the counseling compact.

Counseling compact.org is a private organization and while it will likely have significant power over your Home State license, a Home State has ultimate authority and is charged with enforcing their licensing law. 

Also, if you wish to practice in multiple states you are not required to participate in the counseling compact agreement. 

An alternative example, you can be licensed in New York and obtain a license by endorsement in an additional state. You can then legally practice in both states. There are advantages to this:

If you choose to participate in the counseling compact and it determines there has been a significant or serious ethical violation of practice across state lines, it would have the power- amongst other authority- to suspend or revoke your “Privilege to Practice” in all states where you have been approved.

What Exactly Is the Counseling Compact?

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The Professional Counselors Licensure Compact Act legally permits counseling  across state lines in other participating states. It would permit practice within those states’ borders face-to-face as well.  In general, it provides for the mutual recognition of other member state licenses.

The Counseling Compact is an exciting alternative for both consumers and counselors. It also aims to solve access to care problems for both telemental health and physical out-of-state practice. 

It partially resolves both legal and ethical issues and practice across state lines. 

Good Read:  Ethics and Practice Across State Lines

It would enable professional counselors to practice across state lines if they have a:

1) valid unencumbered state license in their home state and 

2) been approved for the “Privilege To Practice” in the other state. 

This is the fundamental component of the compact . 

The compact was developed by The National center for Interstate Compacts through $600,000 funding from the American Counseling Association (ACA). 

Driving Factors Behind The Counseling Compact

Nationwide Shortage of Licensed Mental Health Professionals

The momentum behind expedited interstate counseling is in large part due to a shortage of licensed counselors particularly in rural areas.

Nationwide Emergency Need For Counseling Services

Reasons some states have been able to move so quickly with passing compact legislation include states being permitted to pass bills through administrative law provisions.  In this case. the legislation being viewed as a addressing a state of emergency.

Who Wrote The Counseling Compact Law?

The National center for Interstate Compacts in Lexington KY drafted counseling compact model legislation for professional counseling associations and other state stakeholders to use as a guide.

Most states legislative language is very similar from state to state and based upon this template drafted by counselingcompact.org.

10 States Before The Counseling Compact Becomes Effective

After compact legislation is enacted in 10 states,

1) it does not mean you can legally practice nationwide.

2) it does not mean you can legally practice within the 10 compact states.

3) many states will need to pass legislation changing their counselor licensing requirements in order to participate in the counseling compact.

4) Most states will need to write new rules to interpret that new part of their practice laws–states can then proceed with implementing the counseling compact.

Which States Are in The Counseling Compact

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*This information is subject to rapid change. Check back often.*

As of this writing, the following states have officially passed counseling compact legislation that has been signed by their governors. Here they are in order of the date which they were passed:

HB395: counseling compact passed into legal law Georgia 5-10-2021

SB0571: cross referenced with HB736 compact passed Maryland 5-18-2021

SB99: counseling compact act passed in Alabama 3-1-2022

HB1026: counseling compact law passed in Mississippi 3/16/2022. Replaced dead SB2916

SB213: counseling compact passed in West Virginia 3-23-2022

SB237: Utah counseling compact law passed 3-24-2022

LD1920: counseling compact legal law in Maine 3-31-2022

HB1521 linked with SB358 counseling compact legal law in Florida 4/6/22

HB65: compact legal law passed in Kentucky 4/8/22

LB752: counseling compact act passed in Nebraska 4/18/22

SB1027: Unanimously passed by both TN house of representatives and senate. Now legal counseling compact law and signed by governor Bill Lee on 5/27/22.

Colorado: 6/8/22, Governor Polis signs compact law. Further, “$104,538 has been appropriated to the department of regulatory agencies for use by the division of professions and occupations.” The monies are intended for hiring of an additional full-time employee and operating expenses.

6/10/22- Louisiana Gov Edwards signs compact into law. Largely bipartisan support.

6/14/22- Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signs Counseling Compact into law. It becomes effective 9/13/22. The governor also signed MD and DO compacts sponsored by the same Senator, Kristina Roegner, last fall.

The following states have introduced legislation, it has been passed or has been passed and awaiting the governors signature:

Updated 6/28/22:

HB582- on the calendar for final passage in senate 5/24/22. Will update when formally passed.
New Hampshire
New York
North Carolina
Rhode Island

When can you begin practicing in other states under the Licensed Professional Counselors Compact Law? 

As of today, you cannot practice under the counselor compact. You must practice through the current means for practicing across state lines–primarily applying for licensure through endorsement or reciprocity.

Good Read: The Counseling Compact: What Can I Do In The Meantime?

The compact permits states to enter into the compact and administer it. The law does not repeal licensing requirements set forth by state law.

Most states are working to move through their legislation the language created by CounselingCompact.org. So states are using that drafted language as a template. 

This post is dedicated to providing consolidated information about each state as legislative action is happening. Particularly when your state either introduces or passes counseling compact legislation.

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New York introduced compact legislation on 5/12/22. The legislative amendments proposed are made to Title VIII of Education Law. Title VIII contains practice law for professions. The legislation seeks to pass interjurisdictional/ interstate practice for counselors, psychologists and emergency medical personnel. The bill was introduced by Senator Robert Ortt. 

Tennessee: Passed counseling compact law. Signed by Governor Bill Lee on 5/27/22.

GA has now passed additional legislation with several changes. Among them are:

1) Georgia HB 972 signed by Governor Kemp on 5/2/22 (now Act 813) reduces by one (1) year the previous requirement for supervised experience.

2) Changes degree requirement a 60 hour master’s program. Aims to limit degrees to clinically-related counseling.

3) In general, Acts clarify the section of law. So Act 813 clarifies the Professional Counselors Licensure Compact Act, GA HB 395. Acts dovetail on existing licensing law and are more specific. 

4) It is unlikely Georgia’s Composite board will enforce either of these laws prior to 2023. It is also unknown how these rules will change licensing requirements–Georgia’s healthcare boards have great discretion in enforcing their laws.

Challenges To Implementing The Counseling Compact

It is very difficult to know exactly how states will implement and enforce the counseling compact. Complex issues to address include:

Whereas most of the states’ proposed bills state the privilege to practice is ‘equivalent to a state license’, it is not. It in many ways has a similar effect of a license but:

The privilege to practice is not a stand-alone legal right to practice. It is tied to your home state license clean, unencumbered and in good standing.

The primary obstacle to the laws going into effect by states is that states retain the authority to set their own requirements. Under state licensing law, licensing boards must abide by enforcing those requirements. 

For example:

Texas and North Carolina Counseling boards require a jurisprudence exam ( a test of license applicants knowledge of their practice law). Georgia does not, however Georgia’s general licensing requirements exceed those two states.

The Licensed Professional Association of Georgia is drafting legislation to reduce GA LPC licensing requirements in order to accommodate licensees from other states whose requirements are less stringent.  

Texas requires a specified number of experience and supervision hours but they can be acquired in a lesser time than Georgia. 

Some states allow LPC’s to diagnose. In Tennessee, one must hold an additional clinical mental health designation in order to diagnose (LPC-MHSP).

As you can see, portability through the counseling compact is quite complicated.

Again, your state retains it’s right to create, establish and enforce requirements for licensure. 

1) That state may need to determine if their existing law could prohibit them from entering into the compact due to conflicts with other practice law. 

2) States may opt to not pursue counseling compact laws.

3) Additional laws may need to be passed in order for a state to participate in the compact. Georgia has passed the Licensed Professional Counselors Compact Act. The Licensed Professional Counselors Association of Georgia has drafted legislation to reduce the requirements for licensure in order to accommodate states with lesser requirements. 

4) There are many administrative costs for state boards. How and if state funds will be allocated is unknown. At least one state has allocated funds for their board to administer the compact. At least one has permitted the board to fund the compact through increasing licensing fees.

The Requirement of Uniform State Counselor Licensing Requirements

Implementation of the counseling compact will require uniformity of license requirements amongst participating states. Presently, counselor state LPC licensing requirements vary widely. 

Can the Counseling Compact Discipline Your State License?

The answer is yes…and no. First, your state must participate in the compact.

All proposed (and passed) bills grant the compact significant power over the “Privilege to
 Practice”. It is difficult to predict the extent to which state boards will accommodate the Compact Organization. And state boards retain the ultimate power over your state license.

States have long explored counseling reciprocity agreements. Reciprocity is a unique mechanism. It is a written agreement between two states that one will accept the others license. It also first requires those state boards to have the authority under law to enter into a reciprocity agreement. These agreements permit face-to-face practice. 

The Kentucky Board of Professional Counselors and The Tennessee Board for Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Marital and Family Therapists, and Licensed Clinical Pastoral Therapists have reciprocity.

Kentucky and The Ohio Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists have reciprocity. 

So for example, since they already have legal recognition of their licenses, it is possible these three states could enter the interstate counseling compact more quickly. 

You deserve a former licensing board president on your side.

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