Become a Counselor in New Mexico
Licensed counselors in New Mexico are known as Licensed Professional Clinical Mental Health Counselors (LPCCs), and counselors still in the supervision portion of the licensure process are known as Licensed Mental health Counselors (LMHCs). The state’s premier professional organization for LPCCs and LMHCs is the New Mexico Mental Health Counselors Association, a local member of the American Mental Health Counseling Association whose mission is “to ensure the delivery of exemplary mental health services by promoting the highest levels of professional behavior on the part of practitioners.” Licensure for LPCCs and LMHCs in New Mexico is managed by the state Counseling and Therapy Practice Board, a division of the New Mexico Regulation & Licensing Department.
Licensure requirements for counselors in New Mexico, including those relating to education, supervision, examination, fees, renewal, and “licensure by 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 aspiring LPCCs and LMHCs in the state.
LPCC licensure in New Mexico requires the completion of a 48-semester-hour master’s or doctoral degree in counseling or a related field from a regionally accredited institution of higher education.
Appropriate degree programs will include three semester hours in each of the following content areas:
- Human growth and development
- Social and cultural foundations
- Helping relationships
- Group work
- Career and lifestyle development
- Research methods
- Professional orientation
Aside from the coursework listed above, LPCC licensure in New Mexico also requires the completion of a practicum, sometimes referred to as an internship. This practicum/internship should be at least nine semester hours of graduate coursework focusing on training in a professional setting under the direction of a faculty member and/or on-site supervisor designated by the college or university.
This is a distinct requirement from post-graduate supervision, which is also necessary for LPCC licensure in New Mexico. (See “Supervision” below for details.)
“Supervision” is shorthand for directed, post-graduate experience in professional counseling under supervision in a work setting. New Mexico requires aspiring LPCCs to complete 3,000 hours of supervision in at least two years, with a minimum of 100 hours of face-to-face direction from an approved supervisor. Up to 1,000 hours may be obtained through a degree-program internship or practicum.
LPCC licensure in New Mexico requires a passing score on both the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification, and 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.
LPCCs and LMHCs in New Mexico can expect to pay the following fees for their license, renewal, and examination:
LPCC/LMHC Application: $75
LPCC License: $220
LMHC License: $75
LPCC License Renewal $220
LMHC License Renewal: $75
LPCC/LMHC Late Renewal Penalty: $100
National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification: $195
National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination: $195
LPCC licenses in New Mexico expire biennially on October 31. License renewal requires payment of the appropriate fees (see above) and the completion of Continuing Education.
Continuing Education (CE)
New Mexico LPCCs are required to complete 40 hours of CE during each two-year renewal period. At least six of those hours must focus on ethics. Acceptable CE courses must be approved by certifying groups like the National Board for Certified Counselors, other regulatory boards related to mental health or substance abuse, or regional mental health professional associations, with online or home-study courses accounting for 12 CE hours at most. CE hours may also be obtained through publication of professional writings.
For Counselors Licensed in Other States
The New Mexico Counseling and Therapy Practice Board has an alternative route to licensure for counselors who have already obtained their licenses in other states. This process is called “licensure by reciprocity” and is delineated on the Board’s website.
Average Counselor Salary in New Mexico
The following types of counselors in New Mexico can expect to earn the respective average hourly and average annual wages, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
|Occupation||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Wage|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors||$19.59||$40,750|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||$22.31||$46,390|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||$30.20||$62,820|
|Mental Health Counselors||$17.91||$37,250|
|All Other Counselors||$13.28||$27,620|
New Mexico Counseling Scholarships
The following scholarships and loan repayment programs are available to aspiring LPCCs and LMHCs in New Mexico:
- 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 school students pursuing careers in behavior health and addiction-related studies, including counseling.
- Type: Loan Repayments
- Amount: Between $30,000 and $50,000
- Description: New Mexico LPCCs 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.
- 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).