As in many other states, counselors in South Dakota who have obtained their licensure are known as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) — although those who have continued their education and further developed their clinical mental health skills can also obtain licensure as Licensed Professional Counselors of Mental Health (LPC-MH).
The state’s premier professional organization for LPCs is the South Dakota Counseling Association, a local branch of the American Counseling Association, whose mission is to “enhance the quality of life in 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 and diversity.”
Licensure for South Dakota LPCs is managed by the state Board of Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapist Examiners, a division of the South Dakota Department of Social Services. Licensure requirements for counselors in South Dakota, including 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 LPCs in the state.
Licensure as a professional counselor in South Dakota requires the completion of a graduate degree in counseling from a program approved by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs. Alternatively, degree programs that includes all of the coursework listed below may be acceptable.
Appropriate degree programs will include graduate-level courses in each of the following core content areas:
Human growth and development
Social and cultural foundations
Life-style and career development
Appraisal of the individual
Research and evaluation
Professional, legal and ethical considerations
In addition to the coursework listed above, South Dakota LPC licensure also requires the completion of a practicum and an internship. The practicum must be a supervised training experience of at least 100 hours with a minimum of 40 hours in direct client service. It should be under the direction of a graduate faculty member.
The internship is an on-the-job experience in professional counseling under the supervision of an on-site supervisor licensed as a professional counselor or mental health therapist. It should be at least 600 hours with a minimum of 240 hours in direct client service.
The practicum and internship requirements are distinct from post-graduate supervision, which is also necessary for LPC licensure in South Dakota.
“Supervision” is shorthand for directed, post-graduate experience in professional counseling under supervision in a work setting. South Dakota requires aspiring LPCs to complete 2,000 hours of supervision within five years. This must include at least 800 hours of direct client contact and a minimum of 100 hours of direction from an approved supervisor, at a rate of at least one hour per week. Of these 100 hours, at least 50 must be face to face and no more than 50 percent may be group supervision. A supervision plan must also be submitted to the South Dakota Board of Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapist Examiners.
South Dakota LPC licensure requires a passing score on the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification, a 200-question, multiple-choice examination administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. It assess knowledge, skills and abilities in effective counseling services.
For licensure as a licensed professional counselor - mental health (LPC-MH) applicants must pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (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 administered also by the National Board for Certified Counselors.
LPC licenses expire annually on December 31 in South Dakota. License renewal requires payment of the appropriate fees and during each odd-numbered year, the completion of continuing education. New licensees are exempt from the continuing education requirement until their second renewal date.
LPCs in South Dakota are required to complete 40 hours of continuing education (CE) during each two-year compliance period ending on December 31 of every odd-numbered year. Four of these hours must focus on ethics as it relates to counseling and a certificate attesting to as much must be obtained. Other hours can be obtained through attendance of coursework, workshops, clinics, forums, lectures, programs, seminars, distance learning programs or other activities previously approved by the board.
Pre-approved sponsors of CE activities include the National Board for Certified Counselors, American Psychological Association, American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, National Association of Social Workers, Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification, American Medical Association Physician’s Recognition Award and Joint Commission for Accreditation of Health Care Organizations.
The South Dakota Board of Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapist Examiners has an alternative route to licensure for counselors who have already obtained their licenses in other states. This process is called “licensure by reciprocity”.
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.
Description: American Addiction Centers offers three scholarships providing financial assistance to full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students pursuing careers in behavior health and addiction-related studies, including counseling.
Description: LPCs and LPC-MHs in South Dakota 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.
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.