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Can I Use an MA in Counseling Psychology When I Graduate? (Part 1: Requirements for State Licensure)

Example of a mental health counselor license from Washington State

Licensing requirements for mental health counselors vary state to state. So, when you’re going to school to become a mental health counselor, you need to make sure that the degree you’re earning is going to qualify you to apply for licensure in your state (or wherever you plan to live). As a military spouse, that’s a little difficult to do, because we could end up almost anywhere.

But I had to start somewhere. Since my husband is from Texas and that is where we’re most likely to eventually end up, I figured it would make sense to use that state. So I looked up their licensing requirements. I found a Licensing Information Worksheet (click link to download as Word doc) to compare the classes with. Then, I tried to compare them to the courses at UMUC-Europe/Bowie State University to see how well they lined up.

While I only had course titles and a brief description to go on, I was pretty sure most of them were covered or at least close. There was one, Abnormal Human Behavior which seemed to be missing. I decided to play it safe and ask the school directly. I emailed them via the Contact Us link on the bottom of the UMUC-Europe page listing the required courses. I let them know my situation and question and pasted Texas’s requirements in the email.

I was a little discouraged that it took a little over two weeks for them to respond (and was at a standstill with applying due to the delay), but the person who replied thanked me for my patience and explained they’d been having technical difficulties. She referred to each of Texas’s requirements by # and listed the Bowie State University courses that were equivalent. As I had thought, there was one for everything but Abnormal Human Behavior. Their closest was PSYC 714 Clinical Assessment in Counseling and Psychotherapy. Since there was only one class not represented I thought this was a pretty good match and decided to go ahead with it with the intention of just taking the missing course if I needed to later.

In case anyone is curious or might be looking at getting licensure in Texas themselves, I will post the contents of the licensing requirements to become a professional counselor in Texas below with my courses filled in. Next time, I’ll be back to tell you about Part 2 of whether I can use an MA in Counseling Psychology when I graduate: CACREP accreditation.

LICENSING REQUIREMENTS.  Applicants for licensure as a professional
counselor must show evidence of the following:

1. A master’s or doctorate degree in counseling or related field from
a university, which meets the accreditation requirements of the board.

2. A planned graduate program of at least 48 graduate semester hours
of courses which are counseling in nature, including a practicum or
internship of at least 300 clock-hours which primarily involve the
direct delivery of counseling services (testing practicum cannot be
used toward the practicum requirements). Practicum must include at
least 100 clock-hours of direct client counseling contact. Areas of
graduate study must include the following:

(1) Normal human growth and development – the process and stages of
human intellectual, physical, social, and emotional development from
prenatal origins through old age;
Course Number: EDUC 507 Course Title: Human Growth and Development

(2) Abnormal human behavior – the principles of understanding
dysfunction in human behavior or social disorganization;
Course Number: PSYC 714 Course Title: Clinical Assessment in Counseling and Psychotherapy*
*closest equivalent, may need to take a course elsewhere to meet this requirement

(3) Appraisal or assessment techniques – the principles, concepts,
and procedures of systematic appraisal or assessment of an individual’
s attitudes, aptitudes, achievements, interests, and personal
characteristics, which may include the use of both non-testing
approaches and test instruments;
Course Number: COUN 610 Course Title: Appraisal, Assessment, and Evaluation

(4) Counseling theories – the major theories of professional
Course Number: PSYC 502 Course Title: Principles and Philosophy of Counseling
Course Number: PSYC 734 Course Title: Counseling Theory and Practice

(5)  Counseling methods or techniques – the methods or techniques
used to provide counseling treatment intervention including:
(A) counseling individuals;
Course Number: PSYC 734 Course Title: Counseling Theory and Practice
(B) the theory and types of groups, including dynamics and
the methods of practice with  groups;
Course Number: COUN 731 Course Title: Group Counseling

(6) Research – the methods of research which may include the study
of statistics or a thesis project in an area relevant to the practice
of professional counseling.
Course Number: EDUC 706 Course Title: Introduction to Research

(7) Life style and Career development – the theories of
vocational choice, career choice and life style, sources of
occupational and educational information, and  career decision-making
Course Number: COUN 608 Course Title: Career Counseling and Development

(8) Social, Cultural, and Family issues – the studies of change,
ethnic groups, gender studies, family systems, urban and rural
societies, population patterns cultural patterns, and differing life
Course Number: COUN 732 Course Title: Family Counseling
Course Number: COUN 633 Course Title: Multicultural Counseling

(9) Professional orientation – the objectives of professional
organizations, codes of ethics, legal aspects of practice, standards
of preparation, and the role identity of persons  providing direct
counseling treatment intervention;
Course Number: PSYC 502 Course Title: Principles and Philosophy of Counseling 

(10) Practicum (internship) – as referred to in §681.82(c) of this
title (relating to Academic Requirements)
Course Number: PSYC 836 Course Title: Practicum in Counseling Psychology
Course Number: PSYC 858 Course Title: Internship in Counseling Psychology

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8 Thoughts on “Can I Use an MA in Counseling Psychology When I Graduate? (Part 1: Requirements for State Licensure)

  1. Kathleen Petersen on January 7, 2013 at 2:01 pm said:

    I am a counseling psychologist, have two college aged daughters, and did some college teaching. So Advise: Hold onto the syllabus from each course you take. In the end, when trying to defend your choice of courses that meet the requirements for licensure, it is the syllabus, that proves what you were taught. Psych 101 and 102 can be the same or different depending upon the syllabus. Also you might try to find an Independent study arrangement to get the odd class that you cannot find. You and the instructor can develop a syllabus that matches the syllabus from course you are missing. I too am in Germany and enjoy reading about your adventures. I’m in Landstuhl.

    • Thanks for the advice. I have been keeping a hard copy and an electronic file of each syllabus so far, so good to know that may come in handy. I haven’t seen where they offer independent study classes there, but it looks like Texas just wants me to have had course work on abnormal human behavior, so it might be okay it’s not a specific class as long as it was covered in one or more classes.

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. Hope you’re enjoying Landstuhl also.

    • What great advice, indeed!

  2. Thanks for posting this! I graduated with a B.Sc. in Psych and will eventually be going back to school for either a Master’s or a Ph.D. Right now I am looking towards Clinical Psych, which can be a bit different from Counseling Psych.

    I wonder how you plan to fulfill your practicum/internship obligation while abroad?

    • You’re welcome. If you already have a Bachelor’s in Psych and want to go the clinical route, I would see about just going straight into a doctoral program. The only reason I’m doing a Master’s before a Ph.D (although I might go for a Psy.D) is because my Bachelor’s degree is completely unrelated.

      I am not sure. I think Landstuhl would probably be the most logical place if it’s an option but I imagine there might be some others I don’t know about. I was just looking at the process actually and the documents they still have up for Fall 2012/Spring 2013 says that certain classes would have to be completed by the end of summer 2012 and the application has to be done by mid Feb 2012. If I try to do it Fall 2013/Spring 2014, that would mean I would have four classes to take this summer to qualify (which may not even be an option if they aren’t available in the summer session) and I’d have to know by February if I can get those done. Unfortunately I waited to take foundations courses because I was told my modules for work would count for college credit. It turned out there was more to it than that, so I’m taking three undergraduate classes this semester and only one graduate course because I can’t take more than that until my foundations are done. I don’t know if we’re going to be here longer than Fall 2014 though so I’ll just have to wait and see what’s available in summer. If the courses I need to qualify aren’t, then my tentative plan is to try to get all of the classes for the degree done next school year. UMUC-Europe mentions that they do try to work with students to allow them to finish their degrees if they are most of the way done so I would hope it would not be a problem for me to find somewhere wherever we are next to complete the practicum and internship in a different location as long as all the courses had been done while I was still in Europe. Once again I guess we go back to the life of the military wife…it’s hard to plan for this stuff because we just don’t know where we will be or for how long. Since we have been here, I have heard three different locations for our next move within Germany and both that we would get extended to move there and that we would not so I won’t know til we know. I just try not to stress and hope it all works out for the best.

  3. Susan Dame on June 23, 2016 at 10:10 am said:

    Any chance I can get a copy of your research syllabus? I need it to pursue my doctorates and I had no idea it was important to keep a syllabus. I have managed to get all the rest from classmates. I attended in Aviano, Italy class of 2007.

    Thank you,

    • I haven’t been on my blog in a year so I just saw this. You’re probably not still looking for it, but I’m not sure my syllabus would help you unless you had the same instructor and they hadn’t changed their course in a few years…I took the research class in 2012.

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