Where to earn hours toward licensure can be a little confusing for those who are looking to become a LPC-MHSP in Tennessee. Here is what you need to know.
Approved clinical setting
It is important that you are gaining hours toward licensure in an "approved" clinical setting. What does that mean? An approved clinical setting is a location that allows you the opportunity to provide clinical mental health counseling AND has a licensed professional on site at least 20 hours per week, among other things as I'll detail below.
Many people are working in community agencies and, for the most part, they often are considered approved locations because they have someone licensed on site at least 20 hours per week. Typically, this would be a clinical director or other licensed administrator, if not also a direct on site supervisor. The licensed person can be a LCSW or PhD-MHSP, it does not have to be a LPC-MHSP even thought that is the credential you are seeking.
Board definition of approved clinical setting
This is the definition of "clinical setting" as stated in the TN Laws and Rules regulating Licensed Professional Counselors:
Clinical setting - A place where the practice of professional counseling occurs. An appropriate setting for an applicant’s pre and post master’s professional experience must meet the following criteria:
(a) The place or practice shall be a public, private, or community agency/mental health setting and must have integrated programs for the delivery of clinical mental health counseling in accordance with these rules and defined by definition (29) for non-Mental Health Service Provider designation and definition (30) for the Mental Health Service Provider designation.
(b) The place or practice shall offer adequate physical resources, such as a private space that meets HIPAA requirements, necessary to allow for supervision and appropriate service delivery.
(c) The place or practice shall have at least one licensed mental health professional on site for a cumulative minimum of 20 hours per week whose assigned job duties include being available to the applicant for supervision and/or consultation while the applicant is engaging in the practice of counseling or counseling related services. In addition, the place or practice shall have a written emergency plan in place to include method(s) of contacting supervisor(s) or other consultant(s), alternative contacts when supervisor(s) is(are) unavailable, information regarding crisis services, and crisis decision-making. The licensed mental health professional can serve as the applicant’s supervisor if he or she meets the supervisor requirements pursuant to 0450-01-.10. If the licensed mental health professional on staff at the place or practice is unable or unwilling to serve as the applicant’s supervisor, the applicant must secure a supervisor who meets the supervisor requirements pursuant to 0450-01-.10.
(d) For an applicant pursuing post-master’s professional experience, the place or practice shall not be owned, or independently operated by the applicant. An applicant shall not seek a clinical setting or supervision that is in conflict with the multiple relationships addressed by the American Counseling Association’s Code of Ethics. Prior to choosing a clinical setting, if an applicant is uncertain, he or she shall seek advice about what is considered acceptable from the Board.
(e) In the case of pre-master’s professional experience, the place or practice shall have written provisions to provide supervision and training experience as defined by graduate counseling program expectations.
(f) The applicant shall be an employee of the place or practice, or shall be affiliated by agreement. All agreements shall include but not be limited to the following information: the name of the individual responsible for supervision, specific job duties/responsibilities, method for obtaining and scheduling clients, liability insurance information, payment arrangements, emergency plan, and facility and service logistics. Compensation for services provided by the applicant shall be paid directly to the place or practice (not the therapist directly) unless the applicant has a temporary license, at which time the applicant may be paid on an agreed upon basis or may provide services on a pro bono basis.
When in doubt, ask
Remember that counting licensure hours officially begins when you are in active supervision with an approved supervisor. It is best to talk with your licensure supervisor directly to make sure that where you are working is considered an approved clinical setting.
Where to find the complete board rules document
You can (if the link works!) view the entire Rules for TN Professional Counselors with this link:
If you have questions about licensure or looking to begin the licensure process with an approved LPC-MHSP supervisor, feel welcome to contact me.
I wish you a wonderful 2019!
Do you envision yourself working as a clinical director within a community agency, working in a group private practice or have a goal of doing your own thing in a solo practice? Great! Each of those goals are awesome but have one thing in common if you live in Tennessee. You need to become licensed as a professional counselor, mental health service provider (LPC-MHSP)!
It is interesting to me how many people finish their graduate program and then ride the fence on becoming licensed. I say it is interesting to me because it is like baking a cake and then never decorating it! It feels a bit unfinished, right? Most people have a vision of their professional goals while in school and find themselves a little lost in the whirlwind of when, where and how to start the process of becoming a licensed therapist.
No need to worry! I sit with clinicians who simply have questions about the process to see if it is something that they want to do, they need to do or if it even fits with their professional goals, time available, etc. Licensure is certainly not for everyone and it doesn't need to be. There are plenty of people doing wonderful work in the field of mental health and community service without being in a fully licensed clinical role. However, one thing that I don't want is for someone who IS interested in becoming fully licesned (by that I mean able to conduct a full scope of practice independently, including the ability to both diagnose and treat) to not start the process out of fear or uncertainty. Especially if you are working in a place that you could be earning hours toward licensure!
If you are ready to kick off the licensure process in 2019 - great! If you want to use this period of time to research and learn more about the process to see if it is right for you and your professional goals - great! I'm happy to set up a complimentary 30 min consult to talk with you about the details and see if it is something you're ready to get off the ground.
Although there are detailed requirements to becoming a LPC-MHSP in Tennessee, the process itself doesn't have to be overwhelming or confusing. Having the right guidance and supervisory support can make all the difference in a calm, productive and exciting experience and well... the opposite. You would be surprised how quickly the licensure process goes by and, before you know it, you are fully licensed to diagnose and treat... giving you opportunities for clinical leadership in agency work or allowing you to work independently in a private practice setting.
If you have any questions, interested to schedule a 30 min consult or have already decided that you're ready to kick of your licensure process give me a call or reach out through the contact page. I'm happy to answer questions and help you get this thing started!
Have a wonderful new year!
Are you looking for additional supervision hours or interested in participating in group supervision? Join me for my next monthly group supervision meeting on Friday, September 21st, from 9am - 10:30am.
My office is fairly small (I like to say "cozy"), so my groups are limited to 4 clinicians. Group supervision offers a time for therapists to come together, share information, ask questions, process experiences and explore ideas. Our September group will run from 9am until 10:30am at my office in West Knoxville and the fee is $25. Due to my space being "cozy," I do ask that you let me know ahead of time if you plan to come!
If you have any questions about the next group supervision meeting, or about clinical supervision in general, please contact me any time. I can be reached at (865) 384-2172 or through my contact page HERE.
Enjoy your Friday!
It saddens me to know that there are qualified, talented counseling graduates out there who have not yet started their licensure journey. Or, worse, they have decided to not pursue becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor / Mental Health Service Provider. There are, of course, many reasons people may make this decision. However, I don't want overwhelm or confusion about the process itself to be the reason people choose to not become licensed.
Becoming a LPC/MHSP is a journey that involves fulfilling multiple requirements, such as obtaining post-graduate clinical hours, participation in clinical supervision and passing board exams. It sounds like a lot but, you know what? It should be a lot! Working with clients to help them heal from things like addiction, sexual abuse, trauma, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, infidelity, grief, etc... is not easy and should not be taken lightly. The licensure journey is designed to help post-graduate clinicians prepare and become effective practitioners.
Becoming fully licensed as a LPC/MHSP will allow you a full scope of practice, which means that you will be able to assess, diagnose and treat. Full scope of practice also means that you will be able to practice independently, which opens the door for things like being in private practice or working as a clinical supervisor or director within a community agency.
On Friday, September 7th, I will be offering a free Drop-In Q&A from 2pm - 4pm for anyone who would like to stop by and learn more about the process of becoming a LPC/MHSP in Tennessee. This is a time for you to ask questions and learn about the licensure requirement details. I am not delivering a presentation or hosting a formal meeting... this will be me, in my office, with the door open for people to stop by and learn more about becoming licensed as a LPC/MHSP.
What: LPC/MHSP Q&A Drop-In
Date: Friday, Sept. 7th, 2018
Time: 2pm - 4pm
Where: 9219 Middlebrook Pike, Knoxville, TN 37931
Interested in stopping by? Give me a call at (865) 384-2172 or reach out using the contact form HERE. Have you already started your licensure journey but know someone who could use information about the process? Feel free to pass the invitation along!
Enjoy your week,
Do you know which three exams you will need to pass in order to become a Licensed Professional Counselor / Mental Health Service Provider (LPC/MHSP) in Tennessee? Each state has their own set of requirements for counseling licensure outlined in their board rules and, in Tennessee, you will be required to pass the following three exams to earn the LPC/ MHSP credential:
1) NCE - National Counselor Examination
2) NCMHCE - National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination
3) Tennessee Jurisprudence Exam
All three exams must be passed during your licensure period in order to earn the LPC/MHSP credential, which is the credential that allows you to have full scope of practice (assessment, diagnosis and treatment) and the ability to practice independently. It can be easy to stay focused on gaining your clinical hours and forget that you need to pass these three exams as well!
Many people start with the NCE exam which is a 200 item, multiple-choice format, examination. Since this covers the concepts of counseling theory, human development, social and cultural foundations, ethics, etc... it is often easier for people to take soon after they have graduated. It has a more "academic" feel to it and is based on much of what you would have learned in your graduate program coursework. Depending on your program, you may have even taken this as your exit exam.
The NCMHCE is a different format, focused on application of information as you are walked through 10 clinical simulations. You are tested in two specific areas: 1) information gathering and 2) decision making. As you progress through the clinical case simulations, you will be asked about things like problem solving, assessment, diagnosis and treatment planning.
Where the NCE has a more academic feel, the NCMHCE is focused more on clinical application. Some people feel more comfortable taking this after they have gained some field experience. Regardless of how much experience you have, I highly suggest giving yourself ample time to study for this exam and take repeated practice tests (available through online test prep companies). If you do not pass this exam the first time, you will need to wait 90 days to take the exam again and will be required to re-register.
Finally, the Tennessee Jurisprudence Exam is a laws, rules and ethics exam that is required after you have taken the NCE and NCMHCE. I have learned that, even if you have not passed the NCMHCE yet, you can still register for the Jurisprudence Exam since it is only offered about four times per year in varied cities within the state of TN.
In recent years, the East Tennessee area exams have been offered around April (Knoxville) and October (Chattanooga). Other testing locations include Nashville and Memphis at other times during the year. This exam does have a registration deadline for each offering, so make sure to look at those dates when planning your examination timeline.
Planning is Key
Make sure to plan for these exams as you begin your licensure journey. Keep in mind the needed time to study, register and take each exam. Again, it can be very easy for people to focus on gaining clinical hours forget there are three exams to take (and pass!) as well. The best thing to do is to talk with your supervisor openly about your plans and goals for licensure, working together to create a rough timeline of how to meet your requirements within the 2-4 year window.
Where to find exam information
You can click HERE for a list of the 2018 testing dates for the NCE and NCMHCE. You will also see directions on how to register for those exams toward the bottom of that page.
For the current TN Jurisprudence Exam registration form click HERE. Keep in mind that the last offering for this exam in East Tennessee in 2018 is coming up on October 20, 2018 in Chattanooga. The registration deadline for that exam offering is September 9th!
Do you have questions about any of the exams? Feel welcome to contact me and I'll help point you in the right direction.
There are several requirements to be met in order to become a Licensed Professional Counselor / Mental Health Service Provider in Tennessee. One of these requirements is that you must clock a minimum of 3,000 post-graduate clinical hours (in an approved setting).
Make sure your work location qualifies
First, you must make sure that you're working in a place that would be considered an approved location. How do you know if your location would qualify? You must be working in a place that allows you to conduct clinical mental health counseling work with clients and has at least one licensed mental health clinician present on location at least 20 hours per week.
Two types of hours you need to track
So, what kinds of activities count toward licensure and how do you track the hours? Fortunately, there are only two main categories that you need to focus on when tracking hours:
Face to face clinical hours
Face to face clinical hours are pretty self-explanatory. These are hours that you would be working directly with clients to provide therapeutic counseling services. Examples of these hours include:
Clinically related activity hours
Clinically related activity hours can include a variety of tasks that you would be completing or participating in within a therapeutic work setting. Some examples include:
Count your supervision hours
Keep in mind that your clinical supervision hours apply toward the clinically related activity category. A total of 150 hours of supervision (minimum of 50 hours per year) are required for licensure as a LPC/MHSP, up to 50 of those total hours can be completed through group supervision.
The best practice during this process is to keep track of your hours on a weekly basis, if not daily. Doing this might seem like a pain in the rear but, trust me, you will be SO glad you did. You will be surprised how quickly these hours add up and to try and track on a monthly basis can feel daunting.
Start tracking right away
Often times people wait to track hours thinking it will be easy to add it up when they "get around to it." Remember, you are working, studying for board exams, living life, possibly raising children, etc... there is A LOT going on. Again, you will be surprised how quickly these hours add up!
Find a method that works for you
There is no "official" tracking form that you are required to use in this licensure process. When you are ready to apply for licensure, there will be a verification of hours form that is required as part of your application packet, where you will list your total hours in each of the two categories, as well as how many supervision hours you received.
Find a method that is easy to maintain. Some people write in their planners each week, others keep a journal or a spreadsheet and some keep track on their phones. If it is too complicated you won't want to keep up with it, that is just life. You don't need to itemize the activities each week, you just need to keep track of the two main categories listed above.
If you have any questions about tracking hours, or looking for a simple worksheet you can use to track on a weekly basis, feel free to contact me. I put together a very basic form you can print and use to track your licensure hours along the way.
Have a great Tuesday!
One of the main questions people have in the beginning of their licensure process is, "How many hours do I need?"
In Tennessee, to fulfill the requirements for the LPC/MHSP credential, candidates need to have accumulated 3,000 clinical hours of post-graduate experience. You need to gain those hours within two to four years. That means you cannot take longer than four years to complete your clinical hours requirement. If you are working at a fast pace and happen to exceed the required hours before the two year mark, you will need to wait to send in your licensure application until you've hit the two year mark. You will also need to maintain supervision until that time, so that is something to keep in mind.
When does the licensure period begin... when can I begin "counting" my hours?
The licensure period (which can range from 2-4 years) begins after you have successfully completed a graduate program and are actively in clinical supervision with a qualified supervisor. If you are gaining hours of experience and NOT actively in supervision, those hours would not yet count. If you are working with clients in a setting that would qualify for licensure experience, do not wait to find a supervisor. Establish yourself in supervision and start counting those hours!
From the time you begin working under supervision you can start counting your hours toward licensure.
Make sure to keep track of your hours on a regular basis (weekly/daily) to help minimize the stress of having to backtrack and calculate your hours. If you would like a simple tracking form to use, just email me and I'll be happy to send one your way.
Of your 3,000 required hours remember that it will need to break down like this:
1,500 hours = Direct service clinical hours
1,500 hours = Clincally related activity hours
More to come on what is considered "direct service" and what is considered "clinicaly related."
If you have questions about the licensure process, or looking to secure an approved supervisor for LPC/MHSP, feel free to contact me. I'm happy to help!
Have a great Wednesday,
Do you know the details of what is required to become a Licensed Professional Counselor / Mental Health Service Provider (LPC/MHSP) in Tennessee? The process can feel confusing and you might feel a bit overwhelmed trying to determine what you need, applicable deadlines and the process for things like exam registrations, etc.
The Tennessee Licensed Professional Counselor Association (TLPCA) has partnered with the state board to offer a detailed list of what is required HERE: https://tlpca.net/index.php/detailed-licensure-procedure/
Do you still have questions or are you looking for a supervisor? Feel free to contact me.
Enjoy your Thursday!