Washington Counselor Licensure Requirements

In Washington, a licensed individual is called Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC). LMHCs need a master’s degree in counseling or closely related field. The licensure law was passed in 1987 and also allows for Registered Counselors who do not require any particular education, experience or exam, to practice independently. They can be paid directly by clients but third-part payment (insurance) is not allowed. This category of counselor is abolished as of July 1, 2012. The Washington State Licensure Board may be accessed at: doh.wa.gov/licensing.

To become an LMHC, following the degree, 3 years of full-time counseling or 3,000 hours of post-graduate supervised mental health counseling in an approved setting is required. This counseling experience must include 1,200 hours of direct counseling and 100 hours of immediate supervision by a supervisor approved by the board. Four hours of training in HIV/AIDS is also required. To become licensed, the State of Washington permits the completion of either the National Counselor Exam (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam.

A number of universities in the State of Washington allow graduate students to complete the NCE before graduation. Those students become eligible for the National Certified Counselor credential upon graduation if the university program is accredited by Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). These exam results can then be used later for state licensure. Many of these universities also use the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Exam (CPCE) as an exit exam. The following universities facilitate the completion of the NCE before receipt of the master’s degree:

Argosy University Seattle
Central Washington University
Eastern Washington University
Gonzaga University
St. Martin’s University
Walla Walla College
Washington State University
Western Washington University