Transferring My LPC License to Georgia
Some states have LPC reciprocity if want to transfer your LPC licensure and practice professional counseling in another state. Should you become licensed as an LPC in your state or wait and apply to transfer your LPC to GA? Thankfully, there are ways of determining this before you apply for LPC, consider moving from another state and taking those big steps. Still, there are far too many scenarios than I can possibly address in this article. If after reading these instructions, you realize you have a complicated licensing scenario or hope to avoid submitting a complete LPC application in lieu of endorsement, feel free to contact me or schedule an appointment.
What It Means To Transfer Your License
For instance, you are a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Tennessee. You plan to relocate to Georgia and would like to be issued a license without the requirement to submit an entire license application. So you ask GA's board if it will recognize your current TN LPC license and issue you a Georgia license by reciprocity.
Key Terms | Understanding State-To-State Licensing
First, licensees' situations differ, but I will help you understand how to analyze your license issue and provide tips for submitting the Licensure by Endorsement application.
In Georgia the Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists issues LPC licenses. So if you want to address transfer eligibility of your LCSW or MFT from another state to GA, you would contact the same board.
Secondly, there are three terms you should know: endorsement, reciprocity, and portability:
- The GA composite licensing board uses either Endorsement or Reciprocity in transfer of a psychotherapy license from another state.
- Reciprocity therefore generally equals endorsement in Georgia. The board uses the terms interchangeably.
- Portability of your LPC license usually means if you have a license in good standing it would be accepted in any state.
Portability has been proposed by the American Counseling Association (ACA) and other professional associations. Portability is controversial. There are obvious advantages to licensees who want to move their license from one state to another. Opposition to portability is also valid since there are ALOT of different graduate degree programs acceptable for LPC licensure.
A Decision Tree | Steps to the License Georgia Reciprocity Process
For the sake of clarity, I will use the term endorsement throughout this license transfer blog post because Georgia's Composite Board of PC, SW and MFT applies it. First, there are three tiers of board decision making in determining whether to license you by endorsement:
- Rules: These are directly subject to GA LPC Licensing Law. The board writes rules that provide a starting point for how it will regulate licenses.
- Policies: these are less formal than rules and often change with the overall climate of licensing. For example, it has not been practical for the board to commit to rigid endorsement rules due to numerous states with different licensing requirements and many other variables.
- Finally, Discretion refers to the board's additional flexibility in enforcing rules.
It is very important you thoroughly read Rule Chapter 135-3-.04 "Licensure By Endorsement", board policies and my discussion of discretion as it applies in Georgia's reciprocity/endorsement decisions. If not, you risk losing the license endorsement when it could have otherwise been approved. I will provide all necessary links to these documents.
Clearly Understanding Your License Situation
Tier 1 | Board Rule Chapter 135-3-.04
The Georgia Secretary of State Licensing Boards Division webpage is where you will find all information for your license including ethics continuing education and license renewal. Here is the link: http://sos.ga.gov/index.php/licensing/plb/43 (the SOS website will open in a new browser window). From the dropdown menu at the top of the page, select Board Rules. Attest to the copyright agreement. Open 135-3, "General Procedures". Scroll down to "Licensure by Endorsement".
Follow the three steps carefully, but especially pay attention to, "...so long as that other state or jurisdiction's requirements for the license in question are substantially equal to or greater than those in Georgia".
You must compare point-by-point the requirements for licensure in your state to Georgia's board. Georgia's board WILL scrutinize this aspect of your endorsement application. This helpful article on the Art of Reading Board Rules is a great place to start.
Now you are prepared to perform a side-by-side comparison by reading Chapter 135-5, "Requirements for Licensure".
Download the required endorsement application forms at http://sos.ga.gov/cgi-bin/plbforms.asp?board=41 and save to your computer desktop:
Tier 2 | Wash, Rinse, Repeat...
GA Composite Board Policies
Board policies can be found at http://sos.ga.gov/index.php/licensing/plb/43/policies4 . Note these policies further clarify the board endorsement rules. Read everything carefully. Note: you will need to provide Form N for all states in which you have held a professional practice license.
As I mentioned earlier, policies are subject to change-- and on short notice. So visit that page immediately prior to submitting your LPC Licensure by reciprocity/endorsement application to confirm you still meet requirements. In fact, it is best to review the board policies page regularly so you can better plan your strategy.
Tier 3 | Board Discretion -- The Fine Print
Hopefully, at this point you have determined whether your state's licensing requirements meet or exceed Georgia's LPC Requirements for Licensure. Make note of all deficiencies and I'll address that below.
Discretion provides the licensing board great flexibility in enforcing board rules. The board can issue different decisions even if two licensees' applications appear identical. The fact is, they are likely not identical. This may not be any consolation but there are requirements that the board can and will make exceptions. And requirements where the board can and won't make exceptions. I know: it's confusing but the following will be helpful:
- No practicum or internship or does not meet Georgia's internship requirements: Generally, the board will not make exceptions with internship deficiencies, but review and document all of your supervised work experience.
- Take a thorough accounting of all dates of work experience during which you were under supervision: Hopefully you kept copies of everything your clinical supervisors and directors/bosses signed. Find them because you may need them.
- Submit a clean application: the application and all forms submitted for the endorsement application should be immaculate. Large and clear print. Matching notarized dates. No white-out or alterations. I cannot overstate how important it is to be meticulous.
If Your Endorsement / Reciprocity Application is Denied
If your application to have your out of state license endorsed is denied, you may appeal. You will be given an opportunity to provide additional evidence or explanation/clarification:
- Account for all gaps in practice. If you do not meet the time period requirements (if you don't know what I'm referring to re-read the board policies), prepare an explanation. Depending on the circumstances, the board can make exceptions but this is not guaranteed.
- If you can demonstrate a "unique and substantial hardship", the board will take that into consideration. This is called a rules waiver and the form can be found at the licensing board website.
- You must first meet the following: 1) your state's licensing requirements meet or exceed Georgia's 2) Clean licenses from every state and 3) minimum 2 years of previous full licensure.
- Compare Georgia's endorsement requirements with your state's licensing requirements. It may be advantageous to continue to practice in your home state until you meet endorsement/reciprocity requirements then apply in GA.