If you want to learn more about helping others in Idaho, a degree in counseling can get you started. After you complete the required coursework and clinical hours, you can get certified as a registered counselor intern (RCI). You can stop there, or you can pursue additional instruction and coursework to qualify as a licensed professional counselor. Here’s what you need to know about how to become a counselor in Idaho.
The Three Levels of Professional Counseling
Registered counselor intern (RCI)
Registered counseling interns are at the first level of a career in counseling. As a counselor intern, you’ll have the opportunity to accrue hours of supervised experience that you will need to ascend to the next two tiers of professional counseling.
Licensed professional counselor (LPC)
A licensed professional counselor can operate independently and with little supervision. The duties of an LPC can include any or all of the following treatments or interventions:
- Crisis intervention
- Assessment of mental health issues and treatment
- Case management
- Guidance, consultation and referrals
- Individual and group counseling
- Counseling for families and couples
Licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC)
A licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC) is the highest level of licensure and certification you can achieve in the counseling field. With an LCPC, you can practice clinical counseling as well as professional counseling without supervision.
Clinical counseling supervisor
Counselors who have been licensed by the state as an LPC or an LCPC and who have held their counseling licenses for at least two years are eligible to become counseling supervisors.
Applicants must have 1,500 hours of one-on-one direct client experience. They must also complete 15 hours of training in counselor supervision. Potential candidates should submit proof of supervisor training along with an application to the state board.
What Is the Difference Between an LMFT and an LCSW?
A licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) is a certified health care professional. This person has usually graduated with a master’s degree in counseling.
The duties of an LMFT can occasionally overlap with those of a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). However, LMFTs and LCSWs differ significantly in terms of the services they provide and the populations they serve. Degree programs for both LMFTs and LCSWs are usually offered at the same colleges and universities.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Professional Counselor in Idaho?
The level of counselor licensing increases with each successive step up. The higher the level to which you aspire, the more time-intensive and demanding your training will be. A bachelor’s degree generally takes three or four years to complete. A master’s degree from a qualifying master’s degree program in counseling takes about two years.
After that, you’ll be ready for RCI licensure, and you can start accruing supervision hours at once. You will need 1,000 supervised counseling hours in a professional and comfortable setting to advance to the role of an LPC. Of the 1,000 hours completed, at least 400 must involve direct client contact. Although that boils down to a six-month commitment to unpaid supervision, it is nevertheless an investment in your counseling career and your financial future.
If your goal is to go all the way to the top, you’ll need 2,000 more hours of supervision to reach the goal of LCPC. The hours must be completed over a period of at least two years. If you were to begin a counseling program today, you could be an LCPC in about 8.5 years.
How Do Counselors Get Licensed in Idaho?
Counselors in Idaho are generally licensed by the Idaho State Licensing Board of Professional Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists. Licensure may be granted by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling Programs. Licensure is sometimes obtainable from the Council on rehabilitation Education.
The Idaho licensing board is most likely to certify counselors with extensive supervised counseling experience. They favor therapists who have been trained in counseling theory and who employ a wide variety of counseling techniques in their work.
The requirements for LPC licensure in the state of Idaho include the completion of 60 semester hours in an approved and accredited counseling graduate degree program. The coursework must include at least one graduate-level course from each of the following eight focus areas:
- Group theory and practicum
- Research and evaluation
- Individual appraisal
- Human growth and development
- Career development and lifestyle
- Professional orientation
- Cultural and social foundations
- Helping relationships
All Idaho LPC applicants are required to complete an internship. An internship involves a minimum of six semester hours in an advanced counseling practicum.
The internship must be supervised and involve at least one hour of one-on-one supervision for every 10 hours of work performed. Internship experience is not the same thing as counseling supervision. However, the hours are applicable to supervision as well as to internship.
Supervision, sometimes referred to as an internship, is direct counseling experience performed by an individual in a work setting while the same individual is being supervised.
Depending on the setting, supervision must include one hour of one-on-one or one-on-two instruction from an LPC or LCPC for 10 out of every 20 hours completed. Counseling sessions must be conducted face to face either in person or via a secure electronic connection.
To obtain clinical professional counseling licensure, individuals must complete 2,000 hours of direct client counseling. The accumulation of these hours must be completed within two years after getting licensed.
Applicants must also get a passing score on the National Counselors Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE). The NCE is administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), and it contains 200 multiple-choice questions.
The multiple-choice questions are designed to assesses your knowledge, skill and ability to deliver effective counseling services to clients. The National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam (NCMHCE), may also be required.
The NCMHCE test is designed to calculate your understanding and knowledge of a broad range of topics that are part of the spectrum of counseling. The topics range from administration, assessment and psychotherapy to consultation and diagnosis.
You’ll be presented with 10 different cases in the mental health counseling arena. Each case is designed to assess clinical problem-solving based on the ability to identify, test, analyze and treat a case successfully. The test is administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).
Continuing Education (CE) Requirements
To successfully renew an Idaho LPC or LCPC license certification, an applicant must have completed a minimum of 20 continuing education (CE) credits during the last year. Three of the CE hours must be about counseling ethics and ethical practices. The CE credits must be obtained in a face-to-face setting, and they must include instructor and participant interaction.
Alternatively, applicants can fulfill their CE requirements by attending workshops, seminars, presentations and conferences. Applicants can satisfy the CE requirement by taking college or university courses or continuing education classes.
The CE requirement can be satisfied with clinical supervision, case consultation, dissertation, publications and home study. Unused CE hours can be carried forward into the new license renewal year.
License fees in Idaho apply to all Registered Counselor Interns, LPCs and LCPCs. Fees are assessed for applications, renewals, exams and other expenses related to licensure. Additionally, the applicant must complete a predetermined number of continuing education hours to qualify for a new license or a renewal.
- LPC and LCPC license applications cost $100 and must be renewed annually.
- LPC and LCPC license renewals cost $120.
- Registered Counselor Intern applications cost $25.
Counselors Who Are Licensed to Practice in States Other Than Idaho
Counselors who are licensed to practice in other states can obtain a license to counsel in Idaho, too. The Idaho Licensing Board of Professional Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists permits counselors who have been licensed in other states to gain certification in Idaho under what’s called “licensure by endorsement.”
In this context, “licensure by endorsement” occurs when a state like Idaho that issues counseling licenses grants a license to a counselor who already has a license in good standing in another state. The new license carries the same weight in Idaho as it does in other jurisdictions. It’s a professional courtesy by which out-of-state counselors can offer their services in Idaho.
How Much Salary Do Counselors Earn in Idaho?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in May of 2021 on the average salaries paid to counselors based on the services that the counselors provide:
- Type of counselor: Substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors
- Average hourly earnings: $25.78
- Average annual earnings: $53,630
- Type of counselor: Educational, vocational, school and guidance counselors
- Average hourly earnings: $25.48
- Average annual earnings: $52,990
- Type of counselor: Rehabilitation counselor
- Average hourly earnings: $20.59
- Average annual earnings: $42,820
- Type of counselor: Marriage and family therapist
- Average annual earnings: $50,340
- Type of counselor: Occupational therapist
- Average annual earnings: $83,980