How to Become a Counselor in Montana - Online Counseling Programs
How to Become a Counselor in Montana
Counselors in Montana who have obtained their licensure are known as Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors (LCPCs). The state’s premier professional organization for LCPCs is the Montana Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors Association, which is a local chapter of the American Mental Health Counselors Association whose mission is to “advocate and defend Licensed Professional Counselors through [their] practice law, public policy advocacy, education, and professional development.” Licensure for LCPCs in Montana is managed by the state Board of Behavioral Health, a division of the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.
Licensure requirements for counselors in Montana, including those relating to education, supervision, examination, fees, renewal, and “licensure by credential,” are examined in further detail below, along with salary information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as scholarships and loan repayment programs available to aspiring LCPCs in the state.
Counselor Education in Montana
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Licensure as a clinical professional counselor in Montana requires the completion of a 60-semester-hour graduate degree in counseling or a related field.
Appropriate degree programs will include core courses as identified by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs:
Human Growth & Development
Social & Cultural Foundations
The Helping Relationship
Life-style & Career Development
Advanced Counseling Practicum
Like many other states, LCPC licensure in Montana requires the completion of a practicum, also sometimes referred to as an internship. This graduate clinical experience requires 30 hours of face-to-face supervision, 45 hours of group supervision, a minimum of 200 hours of service which includes 80 hours in direct services. These hours can be applied to post-graduate supervision hours.
“Supervision” is shorthand for directed experience in professional counseling under supervision in a work setting. Montana requires aspiring LCPCs to complete 3,000 hours of supervision—at least 1,500 of which must be post-degree. Supervisees must receive one hour of supervision for every 15 hours of direct service of which no more that 250 of the total 1000 direct hours should be in group counseling sessions.
LCPC licensure in Montana requires a passing score on either the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification or the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam.
National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE)
The NCE is a 200-question, multiple-choice examination administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. It assesses knowledge, skills, and abilities in effective counseling services.
National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam (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 also administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors.
LCPC licenses in Montana expire annually, with the renewal period beginning December 1st to February 1st. License renewal requires payment of the appropriate renewal fee and completion of continuing education.
Montana LCPCs are required to complete 20 hours of continuing education (CE) each year. A maximum of 10 hours can be accrued by first time preparation of a new course, in-service training, or seminar. Ten hours can also be earned through preparation of a professional counselor paper or presentation at a statewide or national counselor meeting. Excess of 20 hours accrued in a year can be carried over up to 20 additional hours.
The Montana Board of Social Work Examiners and Professional Counselors has an alternative route to licensure for counselors who have already obtained their licenses in other states. Individuals from out-of-state must file the appropriate application and fee as well as meet the following requirements: hold a valid license and graduate degree, have completed the National Counselor Examination or other board-approved licensing exam, submit proof of completed 3,000 post-degree supervision hours, proof of continuous practice for two years preceding application, and submit to fingerprints and background check.
Description: The Pride Foundation offers residents of the Northwest, including Montana, who are pursuing post-secondary education anywhere in the world to apply to more than 50 scholarships through one application. Preference is given to students who self-identify as LGBTQ, are members of LGBTQ families, or have been strongly supportive of the LGBTQ community.
Description: Montana 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: American Addiction Centers offers three scholarships providing financial assistance to full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate school students pursuing careers in behavior health and addiction-related studies, including counseling.
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.