How to Become a Counselor in Maryland - Online Counseling Programs
How to Become a Counselor in Maryland
As in some other states, counselors in Maryland who have completed their licensure are known as Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors (LCPCs). Those who remain in the supervision portion of the licensure process are known as Licensed Graduate Professional Counselors. The premier professional organization for LCPCs in the state is the Maryland Counseling Association, a branch of the American Counseling Association whose mission is to “promote public confidence and trust in the counseling profession and to influence policies that affect professional counselors and the welfare of the diverse clients they serve.”
Licensure for LCPCs in Maryland is managed by the state Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists, a division of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Licensure requirements for counselors in Maryland, including those relating to education, supervision, examination, fees, renewal, and “licensure by waiver,” 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 LCPCs in the state.
Counselor Education in Maryland
Becoming a professional counselor in Maryland requires the completion of a master’s or doctoral degree in counseling or a related field from an accredited institution approved by state Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists.
The master’s degree program must be at least 60 graduate semester credit hours, and the doctoral degree must be at least 90. Both should include a minimum of three graduate semester credit hours in each of the following content areas:
Human growth and personality development
Social and cultural foundations of counseling
Group dynamics, processing, and counseling
Lifestyle and career development
Research and evaluation
Professional, legal, and ethical responsibilities
Marriage and family therapy
Alcohol and drug counseling
Supervised field experience
Diagnosis and psychopathology
Psychotherapy and treatment of mental and emotional disorders
Supervised field experience, which may take the form of an internship or practicum must include at least 125 hours of face-to-face client counseling. This requirement is distinct from post-graduate supervision, also a requirement for LCPC licensure in Maryland.
“Supervision” is shorthand for post-degree, directed experience in professional counseling under supervision in a work setting. Maryland requires aspiring LCPCs to complete a number of supervision hours respective to their degree:
Master’s Degree: Three years with at least 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience in professional counseling under an approved supervisor. Of those three years, two must be post-degree.
Doctoral Degree: Two years with at least 2,000 hours of supervised clinical experience in professional counseling. Of those 2,000 hours, at least 1,000 must be post-degree.
LCPC licenses in Maryland expire every two years. License renewal requires payment of the appropriate renewal fee and completion of continuing education.
LCPCs in Maryland must complete at least 40 hours of continuing education (CE) in professional counseling during the two-year renewal period to successfully renew their licenses. Of those 40 hours, at least 30 must be in “Category A” activities. Category A activities consist of attending a course, workshop, seminar, or symposium, and authoring, editing, or reviewing a juried publication. “Category B” activities can make up 10 hours of CE and include attending or presenting informal courses, in-house colloquia, invited speaker sessions, in-house seminars, and case conferences specifically designed for training. Individualized learning activities, such as receiving formal supervision and participating in distance-learning programs, are also considered Category B.
Maryland Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists-approved sponsors of CE include the American Counseling Association, National Board for Certified Counselors, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors, International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, and all of their affiliates.
The Maryland Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists has an alternative route to licensure for counselors who have already obtained their licenses in other states. This process is called “licensure by waiver”. Applicants must be certified professional counselors who have earned a master’s or doctoral degree and provide evidence of 3 years of full-time clinical experience.
Description: Central Scholarship administers this award for master’s and doctoral students aspiring to advance the field of mental health. Specific criteria include a track record of dedication in the clinical treatment of patients with personality disorders, U.S. citizenship or legal permanent resident status, cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, adjusted gross income of less than $91,000, and Maryland residency.
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.
Description: Maine LCPCs 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: 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.