How to Become a Counselor in Kentucky

State of Kentucky

Counselors in Kentucky who have completed their licensure are known as Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCCs), and those who are still in the supervision portion of the licensure process are known as Licensed Professional Counselor Associates (LPCA).

The premier professional organization for LPCCs and LPCAs in the state is the Kentucky Counseling Association, a state branch of the American Counseling Association, whose mission is to “enhance the quality of life in society by promoting the development of professional counselors, advancing the counseling profession, and using the profession and practice of counseling to promote respect for human dignity and diversity”.

Licensure for both LPCCs and LPCAs in Kentucky is managed by the state Board of Licensed Professional Counselors, a division of the Public Protection Cabinet, Office of Occupations and Professions. Licensure requirements for counselors in Kentucky, including those relating to education, supervision, examination, fees, renewal, and “licensing reciprocity,” are examined in further detail below, along with salary information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as public and private scholarships available to aspiring LPCCs and LPCAs in the state.

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Counselor Education in Kentucky

Licensure as a professional counselor in Kentucky requires the completion of a master’s, specialist, or doctoral degree in counseling or a related field from a regionally accredited institution.

Appropriate degree programs will be of 60 graduate semester hours and include instruction in each of the following content areas:

  1. The Helping Relationship
  2. Human Growth and Development
  3. Lifestyle and career development
  4. Group Dynamics, Process, Counseling, and Consulting
  5. Assessment, Appraisal, and Testing of Individuals
  6. Social and Cultural Foundations
  7. Principles of Etiology, Diagnosis, Treatment Planning, and Prevention
  8. Research and Evaluation
  9. Professional Orientation and Counseling Ethics
  10. Practicum or Internship

Internship Requirements

LPCC licensure in Kentucky requires a practicum or internship consisting of at least 600 hours. From these supervised hours to reach degree requirements, 240 must be in direct client contact. Hours accrued during practicum or internship are distinct from post-degree supervision hours.

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Supervision Hours

“Supervision” is shorthand for post-degree, directed experience in professional counseling under supervision in a work setting. After completion of a graduate degree program, applications for professional counseling licensure must apply first as a licensed professional counselor associate (LPCA). Kentucky requires aspiring LPCCs to complete at least 4,000 hours of post-graduate, supervised experience in the practice of counseling. One hour for every 30 client contact hours must be dedicated to supervision.

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LPCC licensure in Kentucky requires a passing score on either the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification or National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam.

National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE)

The NCE is a 200-question, multiple-choice examination administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. It assesses knowledge, skills, and abilities in effective counseling services.

National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam (NCMHCE)

The NCMHCE tests knowledge of assessment, diagnosis, counseling, psychotherapy, administration, consultation, and supervision. It consists of 10 clinical mental health counseling cases and assesses clinical problem-solving ability by testing identification, analysis, and treatment. It is also administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors.

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LPCC and LPCA Licensure Fees

LPCCs and LPCAs in Kentucky can expect to pay the following fees for their application, renewal, and examination:

LPCC Application: $150

LPCA Application: $50

LPCC License Renewal: $150

LPCA License Renewal: $50

LPCC License Renewal Late Fee: $25

LPCA License Renewal Late Fee: $10

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LPCC License Renewal

LPCC licenses in Kentucky expire annually on October 31. Following a 60-day grace period, unrenewed licenses are terminated. License renewal requires payment of the appropriate renewal fee and completion of continuing education.

Note: The renewal for licenses issued 120 days prior to the renewal date shall not be required to renew until October 31 of the following year.

Continuing Education

LPCCs in Kentucky must complete at least 10 hours of continuing education (CE) in professional counseling during the 12-month renewal period to successfully renew their licenses. CE may be obtained through educational programs sponsored or approved by the American Counseling Association, Kentucky Counseling Associations, National Association of Social Workers, American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, American School Counselor Association, American Psychological Association, Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health Service, National Board for Certified Counselors, or their affiliates.

Alternatively, CE may be earned by attending academic courses, completing home-study courses, instructing courses, or authoring articles, pending approval by the Kentucky Board of Licensed Professional Counselors.

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Additional Information

For Counselors Licensed in Other States

The Kentucky Board of Licensed Professional Counselors has an alternative route to licensure for counselors who have already obtained their licenses in other states. This process is known as “licensing reciprocity”. For Ohio and Tennessee, Kentucky has reciprocity agreements that allow professional licensed counselors from these states to allow practice in Kentucky with reciprocal application.

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Average Counselor Salary in Kentucky

The following types of counselors in Kentucky can expect to earn the corresponding average hourly and average annual wages, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Average Counselor Salary in Kentucky
Type of Counselor Average Hourly Wage Average Annual Wage
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $20.31 $42,240
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselor $28.25 $58,770
Rehabilitation Counselor $17.88 $37,200

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Kentucky Counseling Scholarships

The following scholarships and loan repayment programs are available to aspiring LPCCs and LPCAs in Kentucky:

Mental Health America of Kentucky Scholarships

  • Type: Scholarships
  • Amount: To Be Decided
  • Description: Mental Health America of Kentucky administers two scholarships: the Antionette C. Hodes Academic Scholarship and the Evan and Katherine Harrod Academic Scholarship. Both awards’ criteria include enrollment in a Kentucky college or university, volunteer service in a mental health setting, and plans to enter the mental health field. The Harrod scholarship also requires rural residency.

Kentucky State Loan Repayment Program

  • Type: Loan Repayment
  • Amount: Up to $50,000
  • Description: LPCCs in Kentucky can receive loan repayment assistance in exchange for working in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) at a site approved by the National Health Service Corps. Funding is tied to HPSA score and is in exchange for two years of service.

American Addiction Centers’ Behavioral Health Academic Scholarship Program

  • Type: Scholarships
  • Amount: $2,500 to $5,000
  • Description: American Addiction Centers offers three scholarships to provide financial assistance to full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate school students pursuing careers in behavior health and addiction-related studies, including counseling.

Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students

  • Type: Scholarships
  • Amount: To Be Decided by School
  • Description: The Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students program provides funds to schools, which in turn offer scholarships to full-time, financially needy students from disadvantaged backgrounds who are studying professional counseling (amongst other health professions).

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*Licensure information including requirements, salaries, renewals, scholarships and fees were retrieved as of November 2019. Information may have changed since, check with the state's board of licensing for more information.