Frequently asked Questions - FAQ

Requirements for Out-of-State Applicants

For applications submitted after Jan 1, 2020:

AB679: The Rundown of what’s changing.

CALPCC has been very excited to announce the passage of AB679. This is in regard to license portability and will take effect on January 1, 2020. The bill allows a masters-level mental health licensee from another state to obtain an equivalent LPCC, LMFT, or LCSW license in California through a more simple process. Until now, LPCs (and equivalent licenses) from other states have had tremendous hurdles in meeting California’s LPCC license requirement. CALPCC’s former Executive Director, Dean Porter played a key role in formulating this bill and CALPCC has played a crucial role in moving it forward via our Lobbyist, GV Ayers and our Legislative and Advocacy Committee led by Dr Bita Rivas.

This will make it easier for those moving to California with an LPC to directly obtain a LPCC license, if the license in the other state was held in good standing for two years. There are a few other requirements:

1) passing the California law and ethics exam;
2) coursework in California cultures, and
3) beginning January 2021, applicants must complete specified coursework or training in suicide risk assessment and intervention.

CALPCC's former Executive Director Dean Porter played a key role in putting this bill together, and CALPCC strongly SUPPORTED the bill. This bill will have a greater impact on LPCC licenses than the other licenses under the BBS. LPCs from other states have had tremendous challenges meeting Califonia's LPCC license requirement.

Many have asked what specific courses will need to be taken under this new change. The language is listed below:

Business and Professions Code Section 4999.60 (SB 679):

(a) The board may issue a license to a person who, at the time of submitting an application for a license pursuant to this chapter, holds a license in another jurisdiction of the United States as a professional clinical counselor at the highest level for independent clinical practice if all of the following requirements are met:

(1) The applicant’s license in the other jurisdiction has been current, active, and unrestricted for at least two years immediately before the date the application was received by the board. The applicant shall disclose to the board for review any past restrictions or disciplinary action on an out-of-state license, and the board shall consider those actions in determining whether to issue a license to the applicant.

(2) The applicant’s degree that qualified the applicant for the out-of-state license is a master’s or doctoral degree that was obtained from an accredited or approved institution, as defined in Section 4999.12.

(3) The applicant complies with the fingerprint requirements established in Section 144.

(4) The applicant completes the coursework specified in subparagraphs (A) and (B) from an accredited or approved school, college, or university, as defined in Section 4999.12, or from a continuing education provider that is acceptable to the board, as defined in Section 4999.76. Undergraduate coursework shall not satisfy this requirement.

(A) A minimum of 12 hours of coursework in California law and professional ethics that includes, but is not limited to, instruction in advertising, scope of practice, scope of competence, treatment of minors, confidentiality, dangerous clients, psychotherapist-client privilege, recordkeeping, client access to records, state and federal laws relating to confidentiality of patient health information, dual relationships, child abuse, elder and dependent adult abuse, online therapy, insurance reimbursement, civil liability, disciplinary actions and unprofessional conduct, ethics complaints and ethical standards, termination of therapy, standards of care, relevant family law, therapist disclosures to clients, the application of legal and ethical standards in different types of work settings, and licensing law and licensing process.

(B) At least one semester unit, or 15 hours, of instruction that includes an understanding of various California cultures and the social and psychological implications of socioeconomic position.

(5) The applicant obtains a minimum of seven contact hours of training or coursework in child abuse assessment and reporting, as specified in Section 28, and any regulations promulgated thereunder.

(6) On and after January 1, 2021, the applicant shall show proof of completion of at least six hours of coursework or applied experience under supervision in suicide risk assessment and intervention using one of the methods specified in Section 4999.66.

(7) The applicant passes the board-administered California law and ethics examination specified in Section 4999.53. The clinical examination specified in Section 4999.53 shall be waived for an applicant qualifying under this section.

(b) A licensee who is issued a license pursuant to this section shall be permitted to treat couples or families if the licensee meets one of the following:

(1) The scope of the license held in the other state permitted treatment of couples and families without restrictions or additional coursework and the licensee completes a minimum of six hours of continuing education specific to marriage and family therapy in each renewal cycle.

(2) The licensee completes the requirements to treat couples or families specified in paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) of Section 4999.20.

(c) This section was developed based on an examination of the licensure requirements for professional clinical counselors on a national level. This section shall not be construed to apply to any provisions under this division or Division 3 (commencing with Section 5000) other than this act.

Here are some common questions and answers:

a) I have already completed many of my requirements under the old rules. What happens with that?

b) I have a license in another state, but I am not active nor have I been for the last 5 years. What happens then?

  • Remember the license that you hold must be current, active, and unrestricted for the previous 2 years.

c) I JUST got licensed in another state about a year ago, can I apply under these rules?

  • Unfortunately, no. You would have had to have two years of licensure in your licensed state. You would have to go through the current process for out of state licensees.

d) Do I need to take the NCMHCE again?

  • Thankfully, no-- if you meet the conditions above! We know its a difficult test and no one should have to endure that more than once in their life! You will however have to sit for the CA Law and Ethics exam. Be sure to study!

e) Can CALPCC assess my transcript to see if I qualify for this?

  • Unfortunately, CALPCC does not make the decision of whether you qualify or not. If there is any confusion as to if you fit or not, please send us a message explaining what’s not clear and we will do our best to answer. If it still unclear, we would ask you to submit your application to the BBS to allow them to make the final decision. CALPCC is not the deciding body of what qualifies or not.

f) Will I need to submit a new application and pay a new fee?

  • Yes, you would have to pay a new application fee to the BBS and satisfy any document requests to have your application processed under these new rules.

g) In my other state, I am able to see couple and families as my license there qualifies me for that. Does that translate over the same way or would I need to complete the couples and family certification process in California as already prescribed?

  • You WILL need to complete an application process to be able to see couples and families at this time. The BBS is working through the new processes to ensure that you are able to see couples and families on a more expedited basis.

    Quick note: As this is a new rule change for entire profession and for the BBS, sometimes it is not as clear as we navigate through it. Please feel free to submit any questions not listed here and we’ll gladly work to find the answer.

We will continue our efforts to support and advocate for LPCC’s in California. If you are interested in joining the Legislative and Advocacy Committee, or helping in advocacy or legislative areas as needed, please contact the chair of the Legislative and Advocacy committee: Dr. Bita Rivas, b.rivas@csus.edu.

For applications submitted before Jan 1, 2020:

Those who have earned a degree from an institution based in another state, including California residents who earn online degrees, who apply for LPCC or LMFT licensure on or after January 1, 2016 will need to meet the requirements that went into effect for California residents beginning graduate study on or after August 1, 2012. Although the requirements increase, the law allows applicants to remediate specified coursework through continuing education while registered as a Registered Associate Professional Clinical Counselor (APCC)  and it allows certain advantages to those who are licensed out-of-state. 

The qualifying degree:

  • Those who began their degree prior to August 1, 2012 must have a 48-unit degree
  • Those who began their degree on or after August 1, 2012 must have a 60-unit degree, but they may remediate up to 12 units while registered as an Associate in CA.
Core coursework:

Those with degrees from out-of-state must submit syllabi for the following 13 core content courses.  If the applicant has attempted and failed to obtain syllabi from the university, course descriptions from the university catalog may be submitted.  The Board will make the final determination on whether the course description is acceptable. Those with post-2001 degrees from a CACREP-accredited program do not need to submit syllabi, except for the diagnosis course (G), the  psychopharmacology course (J), the addictions course (K), the crisis/trauma course (L), and the advance counseling course (M).  The university must complete the Out-of-State Degree Program Certification form found in the application.

Applicants must complete at least 3 semester-units or 4.5 quarter-units of graduate study in all of the following 13 core content areas.  Course descriptions can be found here:  core-content-areas

  • (A)  Counseling and psychotherapeutic theories and techniques (includes counseling theories, selection of counseling interventions, orientation to wellness and prevention, etc.)
  • (B)  Human growth and development across the lifespan (includes psychopathology, normal and abnormal behavior, developmental crises)
  • (C)  Career development theories and techniques
  • (D)  Group counseling theories and techniques
  • (E)  Assessment, appraisal and testing
  • (F)  Multicultural counseling theories and techniques
  • (G)  Principles of diagnosis, treatment planning and prevention of mental and emotional disorders and dysfunctional behavior
  • (H)  Research and evaluation
  • (I)  Professional orientation, ethics and law in counseling
  • (J) Psychopharmacology
  • (K) Addictions Counseling
  • (L) Crisis or Trauma Counseling
  • (M) Advanced Counseling and Psychotherapeutic Theories and Techniques

  • An applicant whose degree is deficient in no more than 6 of the 13 core areas may satisfy those deficiencies by completing graduate credit coursework equivalent to three semester-units for each core area.  As of January 1, 2017, assessment and diagnosis must be within the degree and cannot be remediated outside the degree.
  • Applicants with no out-of-state license must remediate this coursework prior to issuance of a license or registration as an Associate.
  • Applicants who are licensed out-of-state may remediate the coursework while registered as an Associate.
CA Law & Ethics Core Content course:
  • Applicants, who completed a graduate course in professional orientation, ethics and law in counseling, which did not contain instruction in CA law and ethics, must complete an 18-hour continuing education course in CA law & ethics prior to licensure or registration as an Associate.
  • Applicants, who did not complete a graduate course in professional orientation, ethics and law in counseling, must complete a course that includes CA law and ethics prior to licensure or registration as an Associate. 
Advanced coursework: 15 units of advanced graduate coursework to develop knowledge of specific treatment issues or special populations is required beyond the 13 core areas, but it may be remediated while registered as an Associate.

The Practicum requirement is 6 semester-units, including 280 face-to-face hours
  • The practicum requirement is waived for those who have been licensed for more than two years in another state
  • Those who have been licensed less than two years may remediate the practicum by completing 280 hours while registered as an Associate. These hours are in addition to the required 3,000 post-degree supervised hours.
  • There is no remediation of the practicum requirement for those with no out-of-state license
Additional coursework may be remediated as CE credits while registered as an Associate:
  • 10 contact hours in human sexuality
  • 15 hours in spousal or partner abuse
  • 7 hours in child abuse
  • 10 hours in aging and long-term care
  • 3 semester-units or 45 hours of instruction on the principles of mental health recovery-oriented care and methods of service delivery in a recovery-oriented practice environments
  • 15 hours of instruction that includes an understanding of the various cultures and the social and psychological implications of socioeconomic position.
The supervision requirement is 3,000 post degree hours
  • The Board will accept supervised experience gained outside of California if the experience is substantially equivalent to that required by California law.  Those who are licensed in another state and have fewer than 3,000 supervised hours may use time actively licensed as a LPC at the rate of 100 hours/month up to a maximum of 1,200 hours, provided the applicant’s degree meets the practicum requirement without exemptions or remediation.  

California Law & Ethics Examination

Out-of-State applicants must pass the LPCC Law & Ethics Exam upon registration as an Associate or upon approval of their licensing application.  They will also need to pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam (NCMHCE) prior to licensure.

Clinical Exam 

Once all education and experience are approved, the applicant will be eligible to take the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE), the licensing exam for California LPCCs.  

Requirements for those who applied by December 31, 2015:  

Although this deadline has passed, this information continues to be posted to assist those who applied prior to the deadline.

Education that is substantially equivalent to California’s requirement for LPCCs:

A 48-semester-unit master’s or doctoral degree from an accredited or approved institution, which is counseling or psychotherapy in content, includes 6 semester units of supervised practicum or fieldwork study, and contains at least 3 semester units of coursework in 7 the following 9 core content areas.  All 9 core areas must be completed before licensure or intern registration.  Licensed counselors from other states may remediate deficiencies at the board’s discretion.

Because the Board has this discretion, applicants with degrees from other states may make up more than two courses outside their degree, as well as credits, as long as the degree contains 6 credits of practicum/fieldwork and the counselor gained that education while residing outside California.  This does not apply to those who earned their degrees in California or those who earn out-of-state or online degrees, while residing in California.

Those with degrees from out-of-state must submit syllabi for the following nine core content courses.  If the applicant has attempted and failed to obtain syllabi from the university, course descriptions from the university catalog may be submitted.  The Board will make the final determination on whether the course description is acceptable. Those with post-2001 degrees from a CACREP-accredited program do not need to submit syllabi.  The university must complete the Out-of-State Degree Program Certification form found in the application.

  • (A)  Counseling and psychotherapeutic theories and techniques (includes counseling theories, selection of counseling interventions, orientation to wellness and prevention, etc.)
  • (B)  Human growth and development across the lifespan (includes psychopathology, normal and abnormal behavior, developmental crises)
  • (C)  Career development theories and techniques
  • (D)  Group counseling theories and techniques
  • (E)  Assessment, appraisal and testing
  • (F)  Multicultural counseling theories and techniques
  • (G)  Principles of diagnosis, treatment planning and prevention of mental and emotional disorders and dysfunctional behavior
  • (H)  Research and evaluation
  • (I)  Professional orientation, ethics and law in counseling
  • View definitions of each of the core content areas.

Advanced Coursework:  In addition to the course requirements described above, a minimum of 12 semester units of advanced coursework to develop knowledge of specific treatment issues, special populations, application of counseling constructs, assessment and treatment planning, clinical interventions, therapeutic relationships, psychopathology or other clinical topics.

Additional Coursework:  In addition to, or as part of the graduate degree, instruction in each of the following content areas must be completed prior to licensure.

Note that, other than the psychopharmacology course, these courses are continuing education hours and can be taken online.  See Course Providers.

  • (1)  Minimum of 15 contact hours of instruction in alcoholism and other chemical substance dependency
  • (2)  Minimum of 10 contact hours of instruction in human sexuality
  • (3)  Two-semester or three quarter-unit survey course in psychopharmacology
  • (4)  Minimum of 15 contact hours of instruction in spousal or partner abuse
  • (5)  Minimum of seven contact hours of instruction in child abuse assessment & reporting
  • (6)  Minimum of 18 contact hours of instruction in California law and professional ethics, if not included in required core content area
  • (7)  Minimum of 10 contact hours of instruction in aging and long-term care
  • (8)  Minimum of 15 contact hours of instruction in crisis/trauma counseling
  • For more detail on these courses, see Additional Coursework

Supervision that is substantially equivalent to that required in California.
California’s requirement for LPCCs:  A minimum of 3,000 post-degree hours of supervised experience, by a LPC, LMFT, LCSW, licensed psychologist or licensed physician who is certified in psychiatry, over a period of not less than two years, including not less than 1,750 hours of direct counseling with individuals or groups in a clinical mental health counseling setting and 150 hours in a hospital or community mental health setting.

The BBS can accept supervised hours, that are substantially equivalent to California’s requirements, for counselors who have held a valid license in another state for at least two years.  Counselors, who have not achieved licensure in another state, or counselors who have not been licensed for at least two years in another state, will be required to gain a minimum of 250 hours of supervised clinical experience in direct counseling within California, after registering with the Board as an Intern.  The qualifying supervised experience gained out of state can be combined, if needed, with the experience gained in California to meet the 3,000-hour post-degree supervision requirement.

Examination

Once all education and experience are approved, the applicant will be eligible to take the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE), the licensing exam for California LPCCs, and the California Law & Ethics Examination for LPCCs.  


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