How to Become a Counselor in New Mexico

Licensed counselors in New Mexico are known as Licensed Professional Clinical Mental Health Counselors (the state abbreviates - LPCCs), and counselors still in the supervision portion of the licensure process are known as Licensed Mental health Counselors (LMHCs). The state’s premier professional organization for LPCCs and LMHCs is the New Mexico Mental Health Counselors Association, a local member of the American Mental Health Counseling Association whose mission is “to ensure the delivery of exemplary mental health services by promoting the highest levels of professional behavior on the part of practitioners.” Licensure for LPCCs and LMHCs in New Mexico is managed by the state Counseling and Therapy Practice Board, a division of the New Mexico Regulation & Licensing Department.

Licensure requirements for counselors in New Mexico, including those relating to education, supervision, examination, fees, renewal, and “licensure by reciprocity,” are examined in further detail below, along with salary information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as scholarships and loan repayment programs available to aspiring LPCCs and LMHCs in the state.

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Counselor Education in New Mexico

LPCC licensure in New Mexico requires the completion of a 48 semester-hour master’s or doctoral degree in counseling or a related field from a regionally accredited institution of higher education.

Appropriate degree programs will include three semester hours in each of the following content areas:

  • Human growth and development
  • Social and cultural foundations
  • Helping relationships
  • Group work
  • Career and lifestyle development
  • Appraisal
  • Research methods
  • Professional orientation

In addition to these three semester hour courses, New Mexico’s Regulation and Licensing Department also requires 12 semester hours in specialized clinical studies such as clinical case study, psychodynamics, addictions, and psychopathology, to name a few.

Internship Requirements

Aside from the coursework listed above, LPCC licensure in New Mexico also requires the completion of a practicum, sometimes referred to as an internship. This practicum/internship should be at least nine semester hours of graduate coursework focusing on training in a professional setting under the direction of a faculty member and/or on-site supervisor designated by the college or university.

This is a distinct requirement from post-graduate supervision, which is also necessary for LPCC licensure in New Mexico.

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Supervision Hours

“Supervision” is shorthand for directed, post-graduate experience in professional counseling under supervision in a work setting. New Mexico requires licensed mental health counselors (LMHC) to complete 3,000 hours of supervision in at least two years, with a minimum of 100 hours of face-to-face direction from an approved supervisor. Up to 1,000 hours may be obtained through a degree-program internship or practicum. After completion LMHCs are eligible to apply for licensed as a LPCC.

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LPCC licensure in New Mexico requires a passing score on both the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification, and the 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 LMHC Licensure Fees

LPCCs and LMHCs in New Mexico can expect to pay the following fees for their license and renewal:

LPCC/LMHC Application: $75

LPCC License: $220

LMHC License: $75

LPCC License Renewal $220

LMHC License Renewal: $75

LPCC/LMHC Late Renewal Penalty: $100

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LPCC License Renewal

LPCC licenses in New Mexico expire biennially on October 31. License renewal requires payment of the appropriate fees and the completion of continuing education.

Continuing Education

New Mexico LPCCs are required to complete 40 hours of continuing education (CE) during each two-year renewal period. At least six of those hours must focus on ethics. Acceptable CE courses must be approved by certifying groups like the National Board for Certified Counselors, other regulatory boards related to mental health or substance abuse, or regional mental health professional associations, with online or home-study courses accounting for 12 CE hours at most. CE hours may also be obtained through publication of professional writings.

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Additional Information

For Counselors Licensed in Other States

The New Mexico Counseling and Therapy Practice Board has an alternative route to licensure for counselors who have already obtained their licenses in other states. This process is called “licensure by reciprocity”. Applicants from out-of-state must complete the appropriate application, verification documents and possess a graduate degree in counseling or related field from an accredited institution.

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Average Counselor Salary in New Mexico

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

Average Counselor Salary in New Mexico
Type of Counselor Average Hourly Wage Average Annual Wage
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $22.62 $47,040
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors $27.02 $56,200
Rehabilitation Counselors $18.49 $38,460

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New Mexico Counseling Scholarships

The following scholarships and loan repayment programs are available to aspiring LPCCs and LMHCs in New Mexico:

American Addiction Centers’ Behavioral Health Academic Scholarship Program

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

National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program

  • Type: Loan Repayments
  • Amount: Between $30,000 and $50,000
  • Description: New Mexico LPCCs are eligible to apply for 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 full-time service. A half-time service commitment option is also available.

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.