How do I get licensed as an LPC in Georgia?
In 2019, several critical new licensing requirements changes are now effective that you need to know.
Introduction to GA Composite Board Licensing
I served for 7 years on the GA Composite Board , enforcing GA LPC Requirements and processing over 7000 LPC/LAPC applications. I provide LPC supervision , board mandated LPC supervision, ethics continuing education training for LPC SW and MFT and private ethics consultation.
The application process for a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) can be frustrating and confusing.
This is further complicated by recent 2019 GA Composite Board Rules Changes. The updated board rules sections are in bold italics below.
2019 GA LPC Requirements | Board Rules Chapter 135
- Chapter 135-1. ORGANIZATION
- Chapter 135-2. FEES
- Chapter 135-3. APPLICATION FOR LICENSURE
- Chapter 135-4. PROCEDURAL RULES
- Chapter 135-5. REQUIREMENTS FOR LICENSURE
- Chapter 135-6. REGULATION OF LICENSES
- Chapter 135-7. CODE OF ETHICS
- Chapter 135-8. DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS AND PROCEDURES
- Chapter 135-9. CONTINUING EDUCATION
- Chapter 135-10. ADVERTISING
- Chapter 135-11. TELEMENTAL HEALTH
- Chapter 135-12. TESTING AND ASSESSMENT
- Chapter 135-13. MILITARY SPOUSES AND TRANSITIONING SERVICE MEMBERS
Summary of Rule Changes
1) Chapter 135-4, changes to Licensure by Endorsement.
2) Chapter 135-5
a) your supervisor needs to be credentialed
b) number of practicum/internship, work hours, and clinical supervision hours.
c) additional coursework requirements in 2019
3) Chapter 135-12
a) clarifies (though vaguely) types of testing or psychological testing allowed for LPC, SW and MFT
b) options for those who did not have a diagnose course as part of their graduate degree program
4) Chapter 135-13 has been added to accommodate military members and their families.
*Note: as regards the LPC license requirements, all of the above have increased.*
Obtaining a copy of the 2019 Board Rules
All rules can be obtained at http://rules.sos.ga.gov/gac/135. Attest to the copyright agreement. The information in this article is not a substitute for reading and understanding rules. Hint: copy/paste the rules to a MS Word document and save to your computer. Refer to the rules as you read this article.
Chapter 135-4 | Procedural Rules
Policies have been added that further clarify requirements including important info about LPC reciprocity and endorsement. You can transfer your license from another state if you have a clean license history, the licensure requirements are equal to or exceed GA LPC requirements, and have been fully licensed in your home state for a specified time period.
Chapter 135-5 | Requirements for Licensure
Changes in this rule section were aimed at ensuring graduates are better qualified in order to be eligible to apply for licensure. More work experience. Experienced and trained clinical supervisors. Increased hours of training under your clinical supervisors. More intensive practicum and internship.
Chapter 135-12 | Testing and Assessment
The word diagnose has been added to the Georgia LPC scope of practice law. The board has increased required training in DSM V and diagnosis of mental disorders.
This rule section also further clarifies which types of psychological tests could be an infringement on the Psychology Board's scope of practice. Here are general guidelines for LPC SW and MFT testing.
Creation of Composite Board | A Brief History
There is a reason that it is a composite board for professional counselors, social workers and marriage and family therapists. When the initial licensing law was passed in 1984 it was believed that whereas each of these professions had unique professional identities, their clinical practice was very similar. For this reason they were combined into one regulatory board. Therefore, regardless of whether an MFT, SW or LPC much of this info will be useful. The first board members were appointed on September 1 1984.
Preparing for The Rule Changes
Retain unofficial copies of all graduate transcripts.
Is the school regionally accredited by either the Council on Higher Education Association (CHEA) or CACREP? If you have not started graduate school, it would be wise to find a CACREP program. There are many CACREP accredited counseling programs.
Is the degree primarily counseling in content?
Does the coursework reflect it as a program in applied practice of psychotherapy. An example of an unacceptable degree is Sociology. Whereas some of the courses may have a focus on group interaction, since is not group therapy, the board will not accept this degree.
It will be a great setback if the board does not accept your degree since you may need to return to school and get a different degree if you want to get licensed. Whereas the board can accept additional post-graduate coursework that supplements your degree program, note how this could be problematic: if you have a masters degree in Early Childhood Education it is possible NONE of those courses will be accepted unless they teach how to treat children with psychotherapy and not simply focus on social interaction and theories.
You must have completed coursework from specific content areas.
Degree Program Coursework
A recent board rule change requires you to have completed courses in all 9 of the following content areas.
(i) Counseling/Psychotherapy Theory, which includes the principles, concepts, and practice of counseling/psychotherapy and the major models of counseling/psychotherapy.
(ii) A Counseling or Applied Psychology Practicum or Internship as part of the graduate degree program.
(iii) Courses in six (6) of the following nine (9) content areas, after September 30, 2018, all 9 content areas of the following course work are required:
(I) Human Growth and Development, which includes an understanding of the nature and needs of individuals at all developmental levels, personality theory, and learning theory, and which may provide a comprehensive overview of the factors, determinants, and stages that pertain to physical, emotional, intellectual, and social development and adaptation from infantile to geriatric stages.
(II) Multicultural Counseling or Diversity Training, which includes an understanding of societal changes and trends, human roles, societal subgroups, diversity, social mores and interaction patterns, and differing lifestyles; and competency in counseling a diverse clientele.
(III) Counseling Techniques or Skills, which includes an understanding of the philosophic bases of helping processes, helper self-understanding and self-development, and the facilitation of client change; OR Advanced Psychotherapy/Intervention Theory, which includes the in-depth study of the major theories, principles, methods and techniques of psychotherapy with individuals, groups or families, focusing on the treatment or prevention of behavior disorders, adjustment problems, psychopathology, or other psychological disturbance.
(IV) Group Dynamics and Group Counseling/Psychotherapy, which includes an understanding of group development, dynamics, and counseling/psychotherapy theories; group leadership styles; group counseling/psychotherapy methods and skills; and other groupapproaches.
(V) Lifestyle and Career Development, which includes an understanding of career development theories; occupational educational information sources and systems; career and leisure counseling, guidance and education; lifestyle and career decision making; and career development program planning, resources, and evaluation.
(VI) Appraisal/Assessment of Individuals, which includes an understanding of psychometric theories and approaches to appraisal/ assessment; validity and reliability; psychometric statistics; the selection, administration, scoring and interpretation of various assessment instruments; and the use of appraisal/assessment results in the counseling/psychotherapy process.
(VII) Research Methods and Evaluation, which includes an understanding of types of research, statistics, research report development, research implementation, program evaluation, needs assessment, and ethical and legal considerations in research; OR Research Statistics, which includes an understanding of the theory, analysis and interpretation of manual or computer generated statistical measures.
(VIII) Professional Orientation and Ethics, which includes an understanding of ethical and legal standards, professional roles, responsibilities, and functions; professional goals and objectives; professional organizations and associations; professional history and trends; professional preparation standards; and professional credentialing.
(IX) Psychopathology, which includes theories, research, descriptive characteristics, categories, dynamics, and etiology of mental, behavioral, cognitive and personality disorders with a focus on utilization of the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM) and/or International Classification of Diseases (ICD).
(Regarding content area (IX) , if the word "psychopathology" or "diagnose" is not in the course title, obtain a copy of the course description directly from the university bulletin. The board may accept a syllabus, but the school's bulletin is official documentation used for accreditation so it is primary source information. Then, confirm DSM and/or Diagnose is included the the course description. Refer to board rules for alternate means of meeting the diagnose course requirements.)
Post Masters Hours and Years Requirements
Directed Experience ("Direction")
Directed Experience is your work/job that you submit to the board with your APC application. Georgia's Composite board is becoming increasingly stringent with work settings. Too many counselors were working in work settings that are private practice but provide little or no employer/employee oversight. For example, guidance and school counseling is being scrutinized due to a 9 month work year.
It is best to seek W-2 employment. If you decide to seek something less structured or a 1099 compensation it may be acceptable to the board. Just be sure there is a formal relationship which provides for hiring and termination and structured oversight. This is essential for meeting GA LPC requirements.
Clinical Supervision ("Supervision")
Confirm your LPC supervisor is credentialed as either a CPCS or ACS supervisor. The CPCS is issued and maintained by the Licensed Professional Counselors Association of Georgia (LPCA) and the ACS by the National Board for Certified Counselors.
Direction and Supervision Must be Simultaneous
You must be under supervision and direction simultaneously. Practice without supervision is not allowed. It is interpreted by the board as both ineligible and unlicensed practice. These hours will not count towards your license. The years and hours depends upon the level of your graduate degree. Please review the rules for details.
Georgia application for APC and LPC
Download the application for LAPC and LPC. Depending on which license you're applying, you will need the following forms:
5 Killer Tips for completing the application
Print large and clearly. The board reviews these applications on a computer screen and therefore the text must be clearly visible. Use a thick black pen and fill the boxes.
Provide only what is required. Don't fill the boxes with extra information.
Do not provide additional information unless requested. Examples of what not to provide are letters of support from a superior or peer stating you are a great therapist. Only provide two Form G, "Recommendation" exactly as instructed. When the board is reviewing your application they are only concerned about whether you have met licensing requirements.
Frequent change of directed experience and supervisors is generally frowned upon. From an administrative standpoint , the application is more difficult for the board to evaluate and raises questions about the reasons for transient work. The fewer jobs, the better.
Check the board meeting schedule and submit your application two weeks prior. The board will likely review your application at that next board meeting, the three-member standards committees will review it and the full board will vote and a few weeks afterward you should receive a letter from the Secretary of State board executive director with the decision.
Board Review and Outcome
The GA Composite Board of LPC SW and MFT does not pre-review applications. Questions about applications are generally not addressed via telephone. The applications are processed in the context of the official meetings. You must submit all required documents. If your application is denied you may appeal. You may also request a face to face meeting at the board offices in Macon GA. Use the meeting to clarify what the board may have missed in their review. Together, you can review again whether you have met GA LPC requirements.
Remember: The GA Composite Board is overwhelmed with work so submit a clean and clear application. Some applications are complex. I provide consultation services and can often assist with sorting through unique situations. All the best ~