How to Become a Counselor in Arkansas

State of Arkansas

After obtaining their license, counselors in Arkansas become Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs). Before applying for their professional licensure, counselors who are practicing under supervision are referred to as Licensed Associate Counselors (LACs).

Arkansas’ professional association for LPCs is the Arkansas Counselors Association, which provides organizational listings, a leadership development institute, and career resources. LPC licensure in the state is handled by the Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling, which maintains all of the requirements for education, supervision, and examination, including an oral exam.

Counselor Education in Arkansas

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An application for licensure as a professional counselor in Arkansas requires the completion of an accredited counseling master’s degree program with a counseling or therapy curriculum.

In order to qualify for application as a LPC in Arkansas, the graduate degree program must consist of a minimum of 60 graduate semester hours completed with a “B” or better grade and include at least three semester credits of coursework in the following content areas:

  1. Professional Identity
  2. Social and Cultural Diversity
  3. Human Growth and Development
  4. Career Development
  5. Helping Relations
  6. Group Work
  7. Assessment
  8. Research and Program Evaluation
  9. Psychopathology
  10. Family & Relationship
  11. Psychopharmacology
  12. Practicum/Internship

Internship Requirements

LPC licensure in Arkansas requires a practicum and internship. The practicum must total at least 100 clock hours, including 40 hours of direct service with clients. Internship experience is 600 clock hours that begins right after the practicum. This must include:

  • Experience in individual counseling and group work
  • An average of one hour per week with individual and/or triadic supervision by a program faculty member or supervisor
  • One and a half hours of group supervision per week
  • A performance evaluation

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Supervision Hours

Aspiring LPCs in Arkansas must complete at least 3,000 hours of client contact under the oversight of a state-approved supervisor. Supervision must be provided by a practitioner who is an LPC, holds approved supervisor status from the Arkansas Board, and whose license is valid and current.

One year is defined as 1,000 supervised Client Contact Hours (CCHs). Supervision must also be provided in the following manner, by Phase:

  • Phase I: at least 100 hours of supervision for 1,000 CCHs
  • Phase II: at least 50 hours of supervision for 1,000 CCHs
  • Phase III: at least 25 hours of supervision for 1,000 CCHs

Group supervision must not exceed 50 percent of the total CCHs. Indirect services must not exceed 200 for Phase I, 300 for Phase II, or 300 CCHs for Phase III. LACs have six years to complete their 3,000 CCHs, otherwise their LAC licensure may not be renewed.

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Examination

During the third phase, licensed associate counselors may opt to take the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) with recommendation from their supervisor and approval of the Board. A passing score on the NCMHCE is equivalent to 500 CCHs and is applied to Phase III.

National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification

The NCE is a 200-question multiple-choice examination administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). It assesses knowledge, skills, and abilities in effective counseling services.

The National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam

The NCMHCE tests knowledge of assessment, diagnosis, counseling, psychotherapy, administration, consultation, and supervision. It consists of 10 clinical mental-health counseling cases and assesses clinical problem-solving ability by testing identification, analysis, and treatment. It is also administered by the NBCC.

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LAC and LPC Licensure Fees

LPCs in Arkansas can expect to pay the following fees for their application, renewal, examination, and other licensure expenses:

Initial LAC/LPC Application: $200

LAC to LPC Application: $100

Application for Specialization License(s):  $50

Biennial License Renewal - LAC: $250

Biennial License Renewal - LPC: $300

Late Renewal Fees: $100-$200

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LPC Licensure Renewal

All licenses expire every two years on June 30th of the renewal year. Licensing dates and payments of fees are set from July 1st to June 30th. All applicants for renewal of their counselors licensure must provide evidence of completion of at least 24 clock hours of continuing education and/or training.

Arkansas LPC license renewal involves submitting the appropriate fees (see above) and this statement of Continuing Education. LPC and LAC licenses must be renewed every two years.

Continuing Education for LPCs

License renewal requires documentation of at least 24 clock hours of continuing education (CE) for each renewal period (or retaking and passing the NCE or NCMHCE 12 months prior to license expiration).

Two of the 24 CE hours must be in ethics. CE activities can include passing college or university courses; attending seminars, workshops, and conferences; publishing; providing supervision; completing dissertations; or taking on leadership roles.

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Additional Information

Additional Licensure Requirements

Arkansas LPC licensure requires three or more letters of reference, a statement of professional intent to provide psychotherapy, and a plan for client records upon the incapacitation or termination of the counselor. A criminal background check must also be completed. Following their receipt of passing written examination scores, the Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling will additionally schedule the applicant for an interview, which constitutes the required oral exam and must be passed.

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Average Counselor Salary in Arkansas

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the following types of counselors in Arkansas can expect to earn the corresponding average hourly wage and average annual wage:

Average Counselor Salary in Arkansas
Type of Counselor Average Hourly Wage Average Annual Wage
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor $16.13 $36,430
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselor $25.95 $53,550
Health Counselor $24.95 $51,960
Rehabilitation Counselor $16.92 $36,960

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Arkansas Counseling Scholarships

The following scholarships are available to aspiring LPCs in Arkansas:

Arkansas Rehabilitation Association Scholarships

  • Type: Scholarships
  • Amount: Varies According to Award
  • Description: The Arkansas Rehabilitation Association offers a number of scholarships based on merit, financial need, and thoroughness of the completed application.

National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program

  • Type: Loan Repayment
  • Amount: Between $30,000 and $50,000
  • 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.

Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students

  • Type: Scholarship
  • Amount: To Be Decided by School
  • 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).

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*Licensure information including requirements, 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.