How to Become a Counselor in West Virginia

State of West Virginia

As in many other states, counselors in West Virginia who have obtained their licensure are known as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs). The state’s premier professional organization for LPCs is the West Virginia Counseling Association, a branch of the American Counseling Association whose mission is “to enhance the quality of individual life in our society by promoting the development of professional counselors, advancing the counseling profession, and using the profession and practice of counseling to promote respect for human dignity.”

Licensure for LPCs in West Virginia is managed by the state’s Board of Examiners in Counseling. Licensure requirements for counselors in West Virginia, including education, supervision, examination, fees, renewal, and “licensure reciprocity,” 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 LPCs in the state.

Counselor Education in West Virginia

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Licensure as a professional counselor in West Virginia requires the completion of a master’s or doctoral degree in counseling from an institution accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, National Council on Accreditation for Teacher Education, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Council on Rehabilitation Education, or a comparable accrediting body.

Appropriate degree programs will be 60 semester hours of graduate coursework with a minimum of three semester hours in each of the following content areas:

  1. Counseling theories
  2. Counseling techniques
  3. Human growth and development
  4. Social and cultural foundations
  5. Individual appraisal
  6. Professional responsibilities
  7. Principles of etiology, assessment, diagnosis, treatment planning, and prevention of mental and emotional disorders and dysfunctional behavior
  8. Addictions counseling
  9. Group dynamics
  10. Lifestyle and career development
  11. Marriage, couples, or family counseling
  12. Research and evaluation
  13. Supervised practicum and internship

Additional required elective coursework should be in:

  1. Human sexuality
  2. Psychopharmacology
  3. Crisis intervention
  4. Biological basis of behavior
  5. Counseling special populations
  6. Rehabilitation counseling
  7. Counseling interventions

Internship Requirements

In addition to the coursework listed above, LPC licensure in West Virginia also requires the completion of a supervised practicum and internship. These requirements are distinct from post-graduate supervision, which is also necessary for licensure.

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Supervision Hours

“Supervision” is shorthand for directed, post-graduate experience in professional counseling under supervision in a work setting. LPC licensure in West Virginia requires the completion of 3,000 hours of supervision for holders of master’s degrees and 1,500 hours for holders of doctorate degrees. At least 50 percent of those hours must be in direct client contact, and there should be one hour of supervised direction from an approved supervisor for every 20 hours of practice.

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Examinations

LPC licensure in West Virginia requires a passing score on either the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification, the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Exam, or the Certified Rehabilitation 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 Counseling 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.

Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) Exam

The CRC Exam consists of 175 multiple-choice questions across 10 subjects underlying rehabilitation counseling. One portion of the exam tests knowledge regarding counseling, while the other pertains to rehabilitation and disability issues. It is administered by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification.

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LPC Licensure Fees

LPCs in West Virginia can expect to pay the following fees for their application, license, renewal, and examination:

LPC License Application: $200

LPC Initial License: $220 (Prorated)

LPC Biennial License Renewal: $220

LPC Late License Renewal: $50

LPC Reciprocity Application: $200

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LPC License Renewal

LPC licenses in West Virginia expire biennially on July 1 of each odd-numbered year. License renewal requires payment of the appropriate fees and the completion of continuing education.

Continuing Education

West Virginia LPCs are required to complete 35 hours of continuing education (CE) during each two-year renewal period. At least three of these hours must focus on related ethics. CE hours may be earned through graduate courses, publication of journal articles, publication of books, graduate course instruction), agency training, presentations, supervision, and home study.

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Additional Information

For Counselors Licensed in Other States

The West Virginia Board of Examiners in Counseling has an alternative route to licensure for counselors who have already obtained their licenses in other parts of the United States. This process is called “licensure reciprocity”. Out-of-state applicants are required to submit a completed application, copies of graduate education, exam results, two professional recommendation forms, and the appropriate fee.

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Average Counselor Salary in West Virginia

Counselors in West Virginia can expect to earn the following average hourly and annual wages, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Average Counselor Salary in West Virginia
Type of Counselor Average Hourly Wage Average Annual Wage
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors $16.44 $34,200
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors $21.36 $44,430
Marriage and Family Therapists $17.97 $37,380
Mental Health Counselors $16.14 $33,570
Rehabilitation Counselors $16.17 $33,640
All Other Counselors $12.88 $26,800

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West Virginia Counseling Scholarships

The following scholarships and loan repayment programs are available to LPCs in West Virginia:

Predoctoral Fellowship in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Program

  • Type: Scholarships
  • Amount: To Be Decided
  • Description: The American Psychological Association (APA), with funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, offers assistance to students enrolled full time in APA-accredited doctoral programs who have a strong commitment to a career in ethnic minority behavioral health services or policy.

Violet and Cyril Franks Scholarship

  • Type: Scholarships
  • Amount: $5,000
  • Description: This award from the American Psychological Foundation is available to one full-time graduate student in good standing at an accredited university who has demonstrated a commitment to stigma issues.

American Addiction Centers’ Behavioral Health Academic Scholarship Program

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

National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program

  • Type: Loan Repayments
  • Amount: Between $30,000 and $50,000
  • Description: West Virginia 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- or half-time service.

Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students

  • Type: Scholarships
  • Amount: To Be Decided
  • 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.