How to Become a Counselor in Rhode Island

State of Rhode Island

Licensed counselors in Rhode Island are known as Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselors (LCMHCs). The state’s premier professional organization for LCMHCs is the Rhode Island Mental Health Counselors Association, a local chapter of the American Mental Health Counselors Association, whose mission is to “enhance the profession of clinical mental health counseling through advocacy, education and collaboration.”

Licensure for LCMHCs in Rhode Island is managed by the state Board of Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists, a division of the Rhode Island Department of Health. Licensure requirements for counselors in Rhode Island, 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 aspiring LCMHCs in the state.

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Counselor Education in Rhode Island

Licensure as a clinical mental health counselor in Rhode Island requires the completion of a 60 semester-hour master’s or doctoral degree in counseling or a closely related field from an educational institution accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges or an equivalent regional accrediting agency. Alternatively, a graduate degree from recognized educational institution which meets the coursework criteria listed below may be acceptable.

Appropriate degree programs will include instruction in each of the following core content areas for the respective number of credits:

  1. Helping relationships and counseling theory - Nine Credits
  2. Human growth and development - Three Credits
  3. Social and cultural foundations: - Three Credits
  4. Group Counseling - Three Credits
  5. Lifestyle and career development - Three Credits
  6. Appraisal - Three Credits
  7. Research and program evaluation - Three Credits
  8. Professional orientation - Three Credits
  9. Electives: (Courses may reflect a specialization area, or add knowledge and skills in interdisciplinary studies)

Internship Requirements

In addition to the coursework listed above, LCMHC licensure in Rhode Island also requires the completion of a 12 semester-hour practicum and a one-year internship consisting of at least 20 hours per week. This is a distinct requirement from post-graduate supervision, which is also necessary for LCMHC licensure in Rhode Island.

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Supervision Hours

“Supervision” is shorthand for directed, post-graduate experience in professional counseling under supervision in a work setting. Rhode Island requires aspiring LCMHCs to complete two years of supervision, with at least 2,000 hours of direct client contact and 100 hours of direction from an approved supervisor.

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LCMHC licensure in Rhode Island requires a passing score on the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam, 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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LCMHC Licensure Fees

LCMHCs in Rhode Island can expect to pay the following fees for their license, application and renewal:

LCMHC Application: $70

LCMHC License Renewal: $50

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LCMHC License Renewal

LCMHC licenses in Rhode Island expire biennially on July 1 of every even-numbered year. License renewal requires payment of the appropriate fees and the completion of continuing education.

Continuing Education

Rhode Island LCMHCs are required to complete 40 hours of continuing education (CE) during each two-year renewal period. At least 20 of these hours must be obtained through “Category I” activities, which consist of formal education programs, like graduate or post-graduate courses, workshops and institutes. The remaining 20 required hours of CE may be obtained through “Category II” activities, which consist of contributions to professional development, including: publication in peer-reviewed journals; leading relevant, semester-long courses at accredited institutions; and serving as as an elected officer on national or international professional organizations.

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Additional Information

For Counselors Licensed in Other States

The Rhode Island Board of Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists has an alternative route to licensure for counselors who have already obtained their licenses in other states. This process is called “licensure by endorsement”. Out-of-state applicants must provide proof of meeting the licensing requirements set forth by the state of Rhode Island and may apply for endorsement without examination at the discretion of the board.

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Average Counselor Salary in Rhode Island

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

Average Counselor Salary in Rhode Island
Type of Counselor Average Hourly Wage Average Annual Wage
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors Estimates Not Released Estimates Not Released
Educational, Guidance, School and Vocational Counselors $30.19 $62,800

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Rhode Island Counseling Scholarships

The following scholarships and loan repayment programs are available to aspiring LCMHCs in Rhode Island:

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: Rhode Island LCMHCs 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
  • 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.