How to Become a Counselor in Alabama - Online Counseling Programs
How to Become a Counselor in Alabama
Counselors in Alabama are known as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs). Supervision is a required part of LPC licensure, and while under supervision, counselors must be licensed as Associate Licensed Counselors (ALC).
The Alabama Counseling Association (ALCA) is the state’s professional organization for counseling graduate students, ALCs and LPCs. Formally founded in 1966 but with roots dating back to 1954, the ALCA was one of the few state organizations that was racially integrated prior to the desegregation movement.
Associate and licensed professional licensure for counselors is handled by the Alabama Board of Examiners in Counseling (ABEC). The state board of examiners maintain all of the education, supervision, examination and renewal requirements for LPCs, which are examined in detail below, along with salary information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as scholarships available to aspiring LPCs in Alabama.
Counselor Education in Alabama
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LPC licensing requires completion of a master’s degree in counseling with at least 48 graduate semester hours at a regionally accredited college or university. The degree program should be accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), or possess equivalent completed graduate coursework in:
Human Growth & Development
Social & Multicultural Foundations
The Helping Relationship
Group Dynamics, Processing, & Counseling
Lifestyle & Career Development
Appraisal of Individuals
Research & Evaluation
One hundred clock hours of individual and group counseling experience is required under appropriate supervision. A minimum of 40 of these hours should be working directly with clients that corresponds with the program’s emphasis. One hour must be dedicated to individual supervision per week while one and one-half is devoted to group supervision.
At least 600 internship hours are also necessary, with a minimum of 240 in direct service work with clients appropriate to the program’s focus. At least two and one-half hours per week of the internship should be under group supervision and one hour per week under individual supervision.
Before becoming a licensed professional counselor as recognized by Alabama, applicants must first apply as an associate licensed counselor (ALC). To pursue licensure as a professional counselor, ALCs must accrue 3,000 hours of supervised experience of which 2250 are providing direct services and 750 are indirect. Annual supervision hours must accumulate to 100 minimum which includes 50 hours of face-to-face individual supervision.
A passing score on the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) is a requirement for LPC licensure. The NCE is a 200-question multiple-choice examination administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. It assess knowledge, skills and abilities in effective counseling services.
LPC licenses must be renewed every two years and on July 31 of the renewal year. (ALCs must renew their licenses annually.) Failure to renew a license for more than six years will result in the LPC needing to reapply for licensure.
Licensed Professional Counselor renewal requires LPCs to submit the appropriate fees, completing an application and providing evidence for the completion of all relevant continuing education clock hours/experience.
Continuing Education for LPCs
At least 40 hours of formal contact in relevant professional and continuing education (CE) experience are required for each two-year renewal. Of those 40 hours, a minimum of six must be devoted to ethical concerns for practice, assessment, supervision or research in counseling.
Additionally, at least 75 percent of CE activities must consist of real-time participation in seminars, classes, workshops, presentations, training programs or similar activities. Such real-time participation must involve the LPC’s presence at the location of the activity or use of interactive technology by the LPC for the activity as it occurs.
Ten hours of CE may be obtained by supplying documentation for two of the following activities:
Service as a counseling seminar, workshop or training conference presenter.
Publication of peer-reviewed counseling material.
Therapy received as part of a certification or towards a learning modality that is pre-approved by ABEC and yields a certificate or similar document.
Service on a counseling board, commission or professional organization.
All CE hours must be approved in advance by ABEC or be formal graduate academic coursework, excluding thesis or dissertation credit. Additionally, all CE hours towards the renewal of a license which has been expired for more than two years must be accrued within the 24 months preceding the renewal request.
Counselors licensed by other states, U.S. territories, the District of Columbia or Puerto Rico may receive LPC licensure from ABEC provided it finds the requirements of their licensure equivalent to its own. In the event that it does not, ABEC may issue a provisional license, which may be renewed for one additional year.
Description: LPCs are eligible to apply for loan repayment assistance in exchange for working in a health professional shortage area (HPSA) at a site approved by the National Health Service Corps. Funding is tied to HPSA score and is in exchange for two years of full-time service. A half-time service commitment option is also available.
Description: Applicant must: be working or planning to work directly with children; be pursuing graduate level studies for one year in fields which address the special needs of children and youth, such as counseling; be a U.S. citizen and permanent resident of a state with a Junior Auxiliary Chapter, such as Alabama; and be planning to attend a U.S. college or university for full-time or part-time study.
Description: The Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students program provides funds to schools, which in turn offer scholarships to full-time, financially needy students from disadvantaged backgrounds who are studying professional counseling (amongst other health professions).
*Licensure information including requirements, salaries, renewals, and fees were retrieved as of May 2017. Information may have changed since, check with the state's board of licensing for more information.