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Human Services Guide

Counseling Licensure in Iowa

Iowa has two main stages of licensure. You complete your education and then apply for a temporary license before continuing towards work experience and exams necessary to attain permanent licensure. It is always wise to take some time and carefully read the Iowa Bureau of Professional Licensure website which you can find here:

Just follow this process to become licensed as a counselor with the title Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in Indiana:

  1. Complete the necessary educational background of a Master of Counseling from a Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accredited program.
  2. Complete a practicum or internship element.
  3. Apply with the board for your temporary LMHC license so you can complete your supervised work experience.
  4. Take the National Mental Health Counselor Examination (NMHCE) as administered by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC).
  5. Apply with the state board to sit for your NMHCE.
  6. Apply for your permanent LMHC license.
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Educational Requirements

Iowa has a specific educational background that they require for those seeking licensure.

  • You will first need to acquire your Bachelor’s degree in a Behavioral Science discipline. Remember that Counseling degrees are preferred by graduate programs in Counseling. If not in Counseling, then it must be in a highly related Social or Behavioral Science field such as Psychology, Social Work or Human Services.
  • The next step is to apply to and get accepted into a Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accredited Master of Counseling or Council on Counseling Rehabilitation (CORE in the case of rehabilitation counselors) program.
  • The graduate program must fulfill certain core educational requirements as laid out on the Iowa Bureau of Professional Licensure website which you can find here:

Practicum or Internship

Indiana law requires you complete a practicum or internship during your graduate studies.

  • You must complete a 100 hour practicum of supervised practice.
  • This must include 40 hours of direct client mental health therapy.
  • You must have an hour a week of direct face to face supervision.
  • Next you will need to complete a 600 hour internship.
  • The internship must include 240 hours of direct client mental health therapy.
  • The internship must have an hour a week of direct face to face supervision.
  • Alternately you can have one and a half hours of group supervision.

Apply for Temporary LMHC Licensure

In order to begin your supervised experience you must first apply for a temporary license.

  • Apply with the state board for your temporary LMHC license.

Supervised Experience

Once you have your temporary license, you are free to accumulate your supervised experience.

  • You need to attain 3000 hours of supervised practice.
  • Your temporary license lasts 3 years, but can sometimes be renewed at the board’s discretion.
  • You must have 1500 hours of direct client mental health therapy.
  • You must have 200 hours of supervision.
  • You must meet with your supervisor at least four times each month.
  • You can receive 100 hours of supervision over the phone or other communication forms.
  • 100 hours must be direct face to face supervision.

Apply for and Take Your LMHC Exam

You are now in the exam phase and must pass your NMHCE.

  • Apply with the Iowa Bureau of Professional Licensure to sit for your National Mental Health Counselor Examination (NMHCE) as administered by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC).
  • You can find the form here:
    Pass the NMHCE with a score acceptable under Iowa law.
    Apply for Your LMHC License
  • You can now apply for and receive your LMHC title from the Iowa state board.
  • Apply to the Iowa Bureau of Professional Licensure for you LMHC title.
    • You can find the correct form here:

License Renewal and Continuing Education

Iowa requires you to renew your license every 2 years. You must also present evidence of continuing education at that time.

  • You must complete 40 hours of continuing education.
  • This must include Identifying Child Abuse classes if you work with children
  • If you work with adults it must include classes on Dependent Adult Abuse.

It is a good idea to occasionally check on the Iowa state board website to see if laws around licensure have changed. You can find the website here: http://www.idph.state.ia.us/licensure/BehavioralScience.aspx?pg=Application

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