Mental Health Counseling License Requirements
The practice of Mental Health Counseling and use of the titles "Mental Health Counselor" and "Licensed Mental Health Counselor" or any derivative thereof within New York State requires licensure as a Mental Health Counselor, unless otherwise exempt under the law.
To be licensed as a Mental Health Counselor in New York State you must:
- be of good moral character;
- be at least 21 years of age;
- meet education requirements;
- meet experience requirements;
- meet examination requirements; and
- complete coursework or training in the identification and reporting of child abuse offered by a New York State approved provider;
Submit an Application for Licensure (Form 1) and the other forms indicated, along with the appropriate fee for licensure and first registration to the Office of the Professions at the address specified on each form. It is your responsibility to follow up with anyone you have asked to send us material.
The specific requirements for licensure are contained in Title 8, Article 163, Section 8402 of the New York State Education Law and Section 52.32 and Subpart 79-9 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.
You should also read the general licensing information applicable for all professions.
The fee for licensure and first registration is $371.
The fee for a limited permit is $70.
Fees are subject to change. The fee due is the one in law when your application is received (unless fees are increased retroactively). You will be billed for the difference if fees have been increased.
- Do not send cash.
- Make your personal check or money order payable to the New York State Education Department. Your cancelled check is your receipt.
- Mail your application and fee to:
New York State Education Department
Office of the Professions
PO Box 22063
Albany, NY 12201
NOTE: Payment submitted from outside the United States should be made by check or draft on a United States bank and in United States currency; payments submitted in any other form will not be accepted and will be returned.
Individuals who withdraw their licensure application may be entitled to a partial refund.
- For the procedure to withdraw your application, contact the Mental Health Counseling Unit by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 518-474-3817 ext. 592 or by faxing 518-402-2323.
- The State Education Department is not responsible for any fees paid to an outside testing or credentials verification agency.
If you withdraw your application, obtain a refund, and then decide to seek New York State licensure at a later date, you will be considered a new applicant, and you will be required to pay the application fee and meet the licensure requirements in place at the time you reapply.
To meet the professional education requirement for licensure as a Mental Health Counselor, you must present evidence of receiving a master's or doctoral degree in counseling from a program that is:
- registered by the Department as licensure qualifying;
- accredited as a mental health counseling program of 60 semester hours by the Commission on the Accreditation of Counseling Related Education Programs (CACREP) or another acceptable accrediting agency; or
- determined by the Department to be the substantial equivalent of such a registered or accredited program.
A program located outside the United States and its territories may be used to satisfy the professional education requirement if it:
- prepares individuals for the professional practice of Mental Health Counseling; and
- is recognized by the appropriate civil authorities of that jurisdiction; and
- can be appropriately verified; and
- is determined by the Department to be the substantial equivalent of a registered licensure qualifying or acceptable accredited master's or doctoral program in counseling.
To be considered substantially equivalent, your program must include at least 60 semester hours, or the equivalent, of graduate study that contains curricular content that includes but is not limited to the following areas:
- human growth and development;
- social and cultural foundations of counseling;
- counseling theory and practice;
- group dynamics;
- lifestyle and career development;
- assessment and appraisal of individuals, couples, families and groups;
- research and program evaluation;
- professional orientation and ethics;
- foundations of Mental Health Counseling and consultation;
- clinical instruction; and
- include a minimum one year supervised internship or practicum in Mental Health Counseling where one year means at least 600 clock hours.
Note: The education requirement for licensure as a Mental Health Counselor can only be met through completion of graduate level courses at an acceptable degree granting institution. Training in an institute or by a registered individual does not meet the education requirement for licensure even if the training is accredited by a private organization.
Evidence of receipt of your degree(s) must be presented on Form 2 - Certification of Professional Education - and must be submitted directly to the Office of the Professions by the school(s) where you obtained your degree(s). In most cases, an official transcript is also needed.
A degree in school counseling, school psychology, social work or a related field does not meet the education requirements. An applicant with a degree in another field must be individually evaluated to determine what additional graduate coursework, including supervised internship/practicum, must be completed to constitute an equivalent degree.
The Bureau of Comparative Education must conduct an individual transcript evaluation of an applicant for licensure as a mental health counselor who graduated from a program that, at the time of graduation, was not a masters or higher degree in mental health counseling of 60 semester hours (or more) that was either:
- Registered by the State Education Department as leading to licensure in mental health counseling; or
- Accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP) under its 2009 Standards.
In addition to verifying the required courses content, Comparative Education must determine if the applicant completed a supervised internship in mental health counseling and psychotherapy as part of the degree program. This evaluation requires information that is not on the transcript, so the applicant must ask the Chair or Director of the academic department to complete and submit the Form 2INT - Certification of Supervised Internship and Practicum. Failure to submit this form will delay the evaluation of the applicant's education and his/her eligibility for a limited permit and admission to the licensing examination. Please note that this form is not required for graduates of 60 credit hour CACREP accredited or NYS registered licensure qualifying MHC programs.
In addition to the professional education requirement, every applicant for Mental Health Counseling licensure or a limited permit must complete coursework or training in the identification and reporting of child abuse in accordance with Section 6507(3)(a) of the Education Law. See additional information and a list of approved providers for this training.
To meet the experience requirement for licensure as a Mental Health Counselor, you must submit documentation of completion of a supervised experience of at least 3,000 clock hours providing Mental Health Counseling in a setting acceptable to the Department. The supervised experience must be obtained after completion of the master’s degree program required for licensure.
The practice of Mental Health Counseling is defined as:
- the evaluation, assessment, amelioration, treatment, modification, or adjustment to a disability, problem, or disorder of behavior, character, development, emotion, personality or relationships by the use of verbal or behavioral methods with individuals, couples, families or groups in private practice, group, or organized settings; and
- the use of assessment instruments and Mental Health Counseling and psychotherapy to identify, evaluate and treat dysfunctions and disorders for purposes of providing appropriate Mental Health Counseling services.
Not less than 1,500 clock hours of such required experience must consist of direct contact with clients. The remaining experience may consist of other activities that do not involve direct client contact, including but not limited to, recordkeeping, case management, research, supervision and professional development.
Experience for licensure must be completed in a legal manner, under a qualified supervisor in a setting that is authorized to provide professional services. In New York State, the experience must be under a limited permit issued by the Department for a specific setting under a qualified supervisor (see below). Experience in other jurisdictions will be evaluated to determined if the equivalent requirements have been satisfied in a legal manner.
You must apply for a license and have your education approved to be eligible for a limited permit. For additional information about limited permits, see the Limited Permits Section.
To be acceptable to the Department, your supervised experience in New York State must meet the following supervision and setting requirements.
Your supervisor must be licensed and registered in New York State to practice Mental Health Counseling, medicine, as a physician assistant, psychology, licensed clinical social work, or as a registered professional nurse or nurse practitioner and competent in the practice of Mental Health Counseling, or must have the equivalent qualifications as determined by the Department for experience completed in another jurisdiction.
The supervisor is responsible for the assessment, evaluation, and treatment of each patient and must delegate to the limited permit holder those activities the limited permit holder is competent to perform by education, training or licensure. The supervisor must provide an average of one hour per week or two hours every other week of in-person individual or group supervision.
The supervisor provides you with oversight and guidance in assessment and evaluation, treatment planning, completing psychosocial histories and progress notes, individual counseling, group counseling, psychotherapy, and consultation, and reviews your assessment and treatment of each client seen under his/her general supervision.
In addition, the supervisor is responsible for appropriate oversight of all services provided by a limited permit holder under his or her general supervision. No supervisor can supervise more than five limited permit holders at one time.
All supervised experience must be verified by your supervisor(s) using a Certification of Supervised Experience (Form 4B). Acceptable verification should include an attestation by the actual supervisor. In cases where such attestation is not available, the Department may accept an attestation of the duration and frequency of the supervised experience and the qualifications of the supervisor submitted by a licensed colleague.
The setting where the experience is obtained must be a location where legally authorized individuals provide services that constitute the practice of Mental Health Counseling, as defined in Education Law, and must be responsible for the services provided by individuals gaining experience for licensure. The setting cannot be a private practice owned or operated by you. If the experience is completed in a setting other than the permit setting, you must submit an operating certificate or certificate of incorporation that indicates the entity is authorized to employ licensed professionals and provide services that are restricted under Title VIII of the Education Law.
An acceptable setting is defined in the Commissioner’s Regulations as:
- a professional corporation, registered limited liability partnership, or professional service limited liability company authorized to provide services that are within the scope of practice of Mental Health Counseling;
- a sole proprietorship owned by a licensee who provide services that are within the scope of his or her profession and services that are within the scope of practice of Mental Health Counseling;
- a professional partnership owned by licensees who provide services that are within scope of practice of Mental Health Counseling;
- a hospital or clinic authorized under Article 28 of the Public Health Law to provide services that are within the scope of practice of Mental Health Counseling;
- a program or facility authorized under the Mental Hygiene Law to provide services that are within the scope of practice of Mental Health Counseling;
- a program or facility authorized under Federal Law to provide services that are within the scope of practice of Mental Health Counseling;
- an entity defined as exempt from the licensing requirements or otherwise authorized under New York State law or the laws of the jurisdiction in which the entity is located to provide services that are within the scope of practice of Mental Health Counseling.
The setting where the experience is gained is responsible for the services provided by individuals gaining experience for licensure. The setting is also responsible for providing adequate supervision to such individuals and for assigning a qualified supervisor, as defined in this section, to individuals gaining experience for licensure.
Please note: New York State candidates for the Mental Health Counselor licensing examination must have completed their graduate program and received the graduate degree as a condition for admission to the examination. Applicants for licensure will not be approved to take the examination prior to receipt of the graduate degree.
To meet the examination requirement for licensure as a Mental Health Counselor in New York State, you must pass the "National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE)," administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). The National Counselor Examination (NCE) from NBCC is not acceptable for licensure.
Before being admitted to an examination for New York State licensure, you must:
- Submit an Application for Licensure (Form 1) and fee ($371) to the New York State Education Department.
- Ask your school to verify your education directly to the New York State Education Department on the Certification of Professional Education form (Form 2).
- Receive notification of approval of your education and all application materials from the New York State Education Department. (We will notify you and the examination administrators when you have satisfied the examination eligibility requirements.)
- Register directly with the examination administrator to take the examination after being notified of your eligibility.
Information regarding the examination, including examination format, select bibliography, and availability of study materials for purchase, may be obtained from the NBCC by contacting them at:
3 Terrace Way, Suite D
Greensboro, NC 27403-3660
If you have passed the NCMHCE for another licensing jurisdiction, you will need to ask NBCC to submit your passing examination score directly to the Office of the Professions on your behalf, using the contact information above.
Note: New York State will not accept an examination given under non-standard conditions except per the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Examples of such non-standard conditions include the use of a dictionary or extra time for applicants whose primary language is other than English. If a candidate passed the examination under non-standard conditions for another jurisdiction, that candidate may be required to retake the examination under standard conditions.
Reasonable Testing Accommodations
If you have a disability and may require reasonable testing accommodations for the examination, you must complete and submit a Request for Reasonable Testing Accommodations form ( 23 KB). You must mail the Request for Reasonable Testing Accommodations form to the address printed on that form, along with the required documentation. You will be notified in writing as to whether or not your request for accommodations has been approved. If your request is approved, it will be valid for 1 year from the date of the approval notification. A copy of your accommodation approval must be attached to your NCMHCE examination registration form. You may not test until your request for accommodations has been processed by the Department. If you schedule a test before your request for accommodations has been processed, you may lose any fee paid to the examination administrator. Please be sure to check the box in item 8 of your Application for Licensure (Form 1) if you are requesting accommodations.
If you are or have been licensed/certified in another jurisdiction(s), you must request the licensing authority of the jurisdiction(s) to provide verification of your licensure/certification on a Verification of Other Professional Licensure/Certification (Form 3). The Form 3 will be reviewed to determine if you have prior disciplinary history which may constitute a question of moral character for the license or limited permit.
Licensure by Endorsement
An applicant seeking endorsement of a license in Mental Health Counseling issued by another jurisdiction must present evidence of having completed 5 years of licensed practice in the 10 years prior to applying for licensure in New York State. You must have been licensed in the other jurisdiction by meeting the following requirements:
- being at least 21 years of age;
- holding a graduate degree in counseling or a related field that at the time of completion qualified you for licensure as a Mental Health Counselor in another jurisdiction;
- completing supervised experience in Mental Health Counseling and psychotherapy that qualified you for initial licensure in the other jurisdiction; and
- passing an examination acceptable to the New York State Education Department for the practice of Mental Health Counseling.
You must be of good moral character, as determined by the Department, and complete the required course work in the identification and reporting of child abuse or the exemption from such course work, as required in Section 6507(3) of the Education Law.
If you cannot certify 5 years of acceptable post-licensure experience in the 10 years prior to applying for a New York State license, you are not eligible for licensure by endorsement and must apply as an applicant for initial licensure. If your initial license in Mental Health Counseling was issued by a jurisdiction that does not have significantly comparable licensure requirements to New York State, you will need to submit all of the documentation required of an applicant for initial licensure so that the Education Department can determine whether your qualifications are substantially similar to New York State’s licensure requirements.
To apply for licensure by endorsement you must submit:
- an Application for Licensure (Form 1) along with the $371 fee; and
- verification of your licensure status from the jurisdiction in which you were initially licensed, and if it is different, from any other jurisdiction in which you are or have been licensed. Each licensing authority must complete and submit a Verification of Other Professional Licensure/Certification (Form 3); and
- an Endorsement Applicant Experience Record (Form 4E); and
- a Certification of Licensed Experience (Form 4F) completed and submitted by the licensed colleague who is attesting to your 5 years of post-licensure experience within the last 10 years.
In addition, you must have NBCC submit your examination scores to the Department.
A limited permit allows an individual who has submitted an Application for Licensure (Form 1) and who, in the determination of the Department, has satisfied all the requirements for licensure as a Mental Health Counselor except the examination and/or experience requirements to practice Mental Health Counseling under the appropriate supervision while meeting the requirements.
Limited permits are only issued for specific practice sites in New York State under a qualified supervisor acceptable to the Department. The setting must be authorized to employ licensed professionals and provide services that are restricted under Title VIII of the Education Law. Appropriate supervision and allowable practice sites are the same as those for the experience requirements specified above. Effective January 1, 2006, one must be licensed or otherwise exempt to practice Mental Health Counseling or supervise a permit holder.
The limited permit is valid for a period of two years. The permit may be extended for up to two additional one-year periods at the discretion of the Department if the Department determines that the permit holder has made good faith efforts to successfully complete the examination and/or experience requirement but has not passed the licensing examination or completed the experience requirement, or has other good cause as determined by the Department for not completing the examination and/or experience requirement. To request an extension of your limited permit, you must submit a new Application for Limited Permit (Form 5) and a fee of $70 along with a justification for the extension.
You may apply for a limited permit by submitting the Application for Limited Permit (Form 5) and fee of $70 at the same time or any time after you submit your Application for Licensure (Form 1), licensure fee of $371, and evidence of satisfactory education using a Certification of Professional Education (Form 2). Practice without a permit is not allowed and any experience obtained without a limited permit may not be acceptable for licensure. You may not practice until the limited permit is issued by the Department.