How to Become a Counselor in New York

Counselors in New York who have obtained their licensure are known as Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHCs), while those who have yet to complete the supervision portion of the licensure process can have a Limited Permit to practice.

The state’s premier professional organizations for LMHCs is the American Counseling Association of New York, 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 LMHCs in New York is managed by the state’s Board of Mental Health Practitioners, a division of the New York State Education Department. Licensure requirements for counselors in New York, including education, supervision, examination, fees, renewal and “licensure by endorsement,” 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 LMHCs in the state.

Counselor Education in New York

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New York LMHC licensure requires the completion of a master’s or doctoral degree in counseling from a program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or other acceptable accrediting agency.

Appropriate degree programs will be 60 semester hours of graduate-level coursework, with instruction in each of the following core content areas:

  1. Human growth and development
  2. Social and cultural foundations of counseling
  3. Counseling theory and practice
  4. Psychopathology
  5. Group dynamics
  6. Lifestyle and career development
  7. Assessment and appraisal of individuals, couples, families and groups
  8. Research and program evaluation
  9. Professional orientation and ethics
  10. Foundations of mental health counseling and consultation
  11. Clinical instruction
  12. Internship or practicum

Internship Requirements

In addition to the coursework listed above, New York LMHC licensure also requires the completion of year-long supervised internship or practicum in mental health counseling which adds up to at least 600 clock hours. This requirement is distinct from post-graduate supervision, which is also necessary for licensure.

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Supervision Hours

“Supervision” is shorthand for directed, post-graduate experience in professional counseling under supervision in a work setting. New York LMHC licensure requires the completion 3,000 hours of supervision, with 1,500 hours of direct client contact.

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Licensure as a mental health counselor in New York requires a passing score on the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Exam (NCMHCE), which 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 administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors.

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LMHC Licensure Fees

New York LMHCs can expect to pay the following fees for their license application, renewal and examination:

LMHC License Application: $371

LMHC Triennial License Renewal: $175

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LMHC License Renewal

New York LMHC licenses expire every three years. License renewal requires payment of the appropriate fee and the completion of continuing education. New licensees are exempt from continuing education.

Continuing Education

LMHCs in New York are required to complete 36 hours of continuing education (CE) during each triennial renewal term. A maximum of 12 of these hours may be from self-instructional coursework; the rest must be through formal education which contributes to professional practice in mental health counseling. This includes collegiate level courses and professional development programs offered by national, state and local professional associations. All CE must be obtained from providers approved by the New York State Board of Mental Health Practitioners.

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Additional Information

For Counselors Licensed in Other States

The New York State Board for Mental Health Practitioners has an alternative route to licensure for counselors who have already obtained their licenses in other parts of the United States. This process is called “licensure by endorsement”. Applicants seeking licensure by endorsement through New York must submit proof of an active and in good standing licensure of at least five years in their originating jurisdiction. Out-of-state applicants must furnish proof of having met equivalent requirements as set forth by New York’s licensing board.

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Average Counselor Salary in New York

New York counselors can expect to earn the following average hourly and average annual wages, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Average Counselor Salary in New York
Type of Counselor Average Hourly Wage Average Annual Wage
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $24.70 $51,380
Educational, Guidance, School and Vocational Counselors $32.66 $67,920
Rehabilitation Counselors $17.33 $36,040
All Other Counselors $24.67 $51,130

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New York Counseling Scholarships

The following scholarships and loan repayment programs are available to New York LMHCs:

New York City Department of Education Loan Forgiveness Program

  • Type: Loan Repayments
  • Amount: Up to $24,000
  • Description: New York City’s Department of Education will assist bilingual school counselors (as well as other personnel) repay their approved student loans in exchange for six consecutive years of service in specific shortage areas.

Mental Health Association (MHA) of Nassau County Awards and Scholarships

  • Type: Scholarships
  • Amount: To be Decided
  • Description: MHA awards both scholarships to financially needy students and tuition assistance to their full-time employees pursuing education directly related to their work. 

Predoctoral Fellowship in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Program

  • Type: Scholarships
  • Amount: To be Decided
  • Description: The American Psychological Association (APA), with funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, offers assistance to students enrolled full time in APA-accredited doctoral programs and who have a strong commitment to a career in ethnic minority behavioral health services.

Violet and Cyril Franks Scholarship

  • Type: Scholarships
  • Amount: $5,000
  • Description: This award from the American Psychological Foundation is available each year to one full-time graduate student in good standing at an accredited university who has demonstrated a commitment to stigma issues.

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 students pursuing careers in behavioral 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: LMHCs in New York 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- or half-time service.

Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students

  • Type: Scholarships
  • Amount: To be Decided
  • 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, 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.