How to Become a Counselor in Indiana

State of Indiana

Counselors in Indiana are known as Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHCs). The premier professional organization for LMHCs in the state is the Indiana Counseling Association, whose mission is “Enhancing the counseling profession and the professional counselors who serve others”.

Licensure for counselors in Indiana is managed by the state Professional Licensing Agency. Licensure requirements for counselors in Indiana, including those relating to education, supervision, examination, fees, and renewal, are examined in further detail below, along with salary information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as public and private scholarships available to aspiring LMHCs in the state.

Counselor Education in Indiana

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LMHC licensure in Indiana requires the completion of a master’s or doctoral degree in an area related to mental health counseling, such as counseling, clinical social work, psychology, human services, human development, family relations, or any other program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE). A master’s degree must have no less than 48 semester hours, and a doctoral degree must have no less than 96.

Appropriate degree programs will cover each of the following 12 content areas:

  1. Human Growth & Development
  2. Social & Cultural foundations of counseling
  3. Helping Relationships - Counseling Theory & Practice
  4. Group Dynamics, Processes, Counseling, and Consultation
  5. Lifestyle and Career Development
  6. Assessment & Appraisal of Individuals
  7. Research and Program Evaluation
  8. Professional Orientation & Ethics
  9. Foundations of Mental Health Counseling
  10. Contextual Dimensions of Mental Health Counseling
  11. Knowledge and Skill for the Practice of Mental Health Counseling & Psychotherapy
  12. Clinical Instruction

Internship Requirements

LMHC license applicants in Indiana must complete 1,000 hours of supervised clinical experience in a counseling setting for their graduate degree, which includes at least 100 hours of practicum, 600 hours of internship, and 300 hours of advanced internship. (If no advanced internship is available, the remaining hours may be satisfied by practicum or standard internship.) At least 100 hours of face-to-face supervision must also be provided by a counselor educator, licensed or certified master’s- or doctoral-level psychiatrist, psychologist, mental health counselor, clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, or clinical nurse specialist in psychiatry or mental health nursing. This requirement is distinct from “Supervision.”

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Supervision Hours

“Supervision” is shorthand for post-degree, directed experience in professional counseling under supervision in a work setting. Indiana requires LMHCs to complete 3,000 hours of post-degree supervision in at least 21 months. Supervision may be provided by an LMHC, a licensed or certified master’s- or doctoral-level psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, or clinical nurse specialist in psychiatric or mental health nursing.

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Examination

Licensure as a mental health counselor in Indiana requires a passing score on the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam (NCMHCE), which tests knowledge of assessment, diagnosis, counseling, psychotherapy, administration, consultation, and supervision. An application to the Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board is required before taking the required examination. The NCMHCE 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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LMHC Licensure Fees

LMHCs in Indiana can expect to pay the following fees for their application, renewal, and examination:

LMHC Application: $50

LMHC License Renewal Fee: $50

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LMHC License Renewal

LMHC licenses in Indiana expire biennially on April 1 of each even-numbered year. License renewal requires payment of the appropriate renewal fee and completion of continuing education.

Continuing Education

LMHCs in Indiana must complete 40 hours of continuing education during the 24-month renewal period to successfully renew their licenses. (Only 20 hours are required for licenses issued for less than 24 months, and zero are required of licenses issued for less than a year.) At least one hour of ethics is required each year. Additionally, 20 hours must be from “Category I,” which is comprised of formally organized courses, workshops, seminars, symposia, and home-study programs. “Category II,” which may make up the remaining 20 hours, is comprised of journal clubs, office in-services, case conferences designed for training, service as an instructor, research and publication in professional journals or books, peer review, and service on professional boards, commissions, and organization.

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Additional Information

For Counselors Licensed in Other States

The Indiana Professional Licensing Agency requires that counselors licensed in other states meet the same requirements for individuals preparing for licensure in Indiana. The National Counselor Examination (NCE) is not a comparable alternative to the NCMHCE requirement, therefore all applicants must take the NCMHCE for appropriate licensure.

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Average Counselor Salary in Indiana

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

Average Counselor Salary in Indiana
Type of Counselor Average Hourly Wage Average Annual Wage
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor $18.17 $37,800
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselor $24.98 $51,950
Marriage and Family Therapists $23.40 $48,670
Mental Health Counselor $20.12 $41,840
Rehabilitation Counselor $17.26 $35,910

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Indiana Counseling Scholarships

The following scholarships and loan repayment programs are available to aspiring LMHCs and LMHCAs in Indiana:

Marva J. Lee Endowed Scholarship Fund

  • Type: Scholarships
  • Amount: To Be Decided by the Educational Advancement Foundation (EAF)
  • Description: Available to graduate students pursuing a degree in counseling in the Central Region of the United States (including Indiana), the Marva J. Lee Endowed Scholarship Fund is administered by the EAF. Criteria include genuine interest in guiding young people, active involvement in school and community service, a minimum GPA of 3.0, and a high standard of excellence, determination, and moral integrity.

American Addiction Centers’ Behavioral Health Academic Scholarship Program

  • Type: Scholarships
  • Amount: $2,500 to $5,000
  • Description: American Addiction Centers offers three scholarships to provide financial assistance to full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate school students pursuing careers in behavior health and addiction-related studies, including counseling.

Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students

  • Type: Scholarships
  • 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: LMHCs and LMHCAs in Indiana 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.