How to Become a Counselor in Florida

State of Florida

Counselors in Florida are known as Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHCs), or Registered Mental Health Counselor Interns (RMHCIs) if they are in the supervision period of the licensure process. The state’s premier professional association for LMHCs and RMHCIs is the Florida Mental Health Counselors Association, which seeks to “provide education, legislative oversight, and networking” for the field.

LMHC licensure in Florida is handled by the state Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling. Licensure details, including requirements for education, supervision, examination, and renewal, are examined further below, along with salary information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as scholarships available to aspiring LMHCs in Florida.

Counselor Education in Florida

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LMHC licensure in Florida requires the completion of a master’s degree in mental health counseling from a program accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. Programs that meet all of the coursework requirements listed below may also be acceptable.

The master’s program in mental health counseling or a related field should consist of at least 60 semester hours of clinical and didactic instruction. Furthermore, a minimum of three semester hours of graduate-level coursework in each of the following content areas should be completed:

  1. Counseling Theories and Practice
  2. Human Growth and Development
  3. Diagnosis and Treatment of Psychopathology
  4. Human Sexuality
  5. Group Theories and Practice
  6. Individual Evaluation and Assessment
  7. Career and Lifestyle Assessment
  8. Research and Program Evaluation
  9. Social and Cultural Foundations
  10. Counseling in Community Settings
  11. Substance Abuse
  12. Legal, Ethical, and Professional Standards

In addition to the master’s program coursework, Florida LMHC licensure requires the completion of an eight-hour course on laws and rules, a three-hour course on HIV and AIDs, a two-hour course in domestic violence and a two-hour course on domestic violence within six months of licensure—all of which may be obtained from board-approved providers.

Internship Requirements

In addition to the coursework listed above, LMHC licensure applicants should complete at least 1,000 hours of university-sponsored supervised clinical practicum, internship, or field experience. This experience may not be used to satisfy the post-master’s clinical experience requirement, sometimes also referred to as “supervision.” For more on supervision, see below.

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Supervision Hours

LMHC licensure in Florida requires two years of post-master’s supervised experience under the supervision of an LMHC or equivalent. During this time, counselors are considered Registered Mental Health Counselor Interns (RMHCI). Supervised experience must consist of at least 1,500 hours of providing psychotherapy face to face with clients and should be accrued in no less than 100 weeks. Additionally, there should be at least one hour of supervision every two weeks and at least one hour every 15 hours of psychotherapy. Each hour of group supervision must alternate with an hour of individual supervision, which may actually include up to two RMHCIs for each supervisor.

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Examination

Florida LMHC licensure requires a passing score on the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). 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 administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors.

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RMHCI and LMHC Licensure Fees

Florida LMHCs can expect to pay the following fees for their application, renewal, examination, and other licensure expenses:

RMHCI Licensure: $150

LMHC Application: $100

LMHC Licensure: $105

LMHC Renewal: $130

LMHC Late Renewal: $235

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LMHC License Renewal

Florida LMHC licenses expire on March 31 each odd year. LMHC license renewal requires payment of the appropriate renewal fees (see above) and the completion of continuing education.

Continuing Education (CE)

LMHC license renewal in Florida requires the completion of 25 hours of general CE, two hours on medical errors, three hours on ethics and boundaries, three hours on laws and rules, and two hours on domestic violence. First-time renewers are exempt from these requirements.

All CE courses must be taken through board-approved providers. Alternatively, CE can be earned by attending a board meeting (up to three hours of general CE), presenting or moderating an event (up to 10 hours), or instructing a graduate-level course (up to five hours). There is no limit on the number of hours earned through home-study courses, and all 25 general hours can be covered by sex therapy or hypnosis training.

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Additional Information

For Counselors Licensed in Other States

The Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling has an alternative route to licensure for counselors who have already obtained their professional counseling licenses in other states - applying by endorsement.

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Average Counselor Salary in Florida

The following types of counselors in Florida can expect to earn the corresponding average hourly and annual wages, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Average Counselor Salary in Florida
Type of Counselor Average Hourly Wage Average Annual Wage
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor $22.12 $46,010
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselor $25.62 $53,300
Marriage and Family Therapists $23.15 $48,140
Mental Health Counselor $21.39 $44,490
Rehabilitation Counselor $18.01 $37,470
All Other Counselors $21.89 $40,470

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Florida Counseling Scholarships

The following scholarships are available to aspiring LMHCs in Florida:

National Association of Junior Auxiliaries, Inc. (NAJA) Graduate Scholarship Program

  • Type: Scholarship
  • Amount: To Be Decided by NAJA
  • Description: Applicant must be working or planning to work directly with children; be pursuing graduate-level studies for one year in fields that 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 Florida; and be planning to attend a U.S. college or university for full-time or part-time study.

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).

National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program

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

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*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.