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Licensing Requirements After 2012

Following is a summary of requirements for those who began graduate study on or AFTER AUGUST 1, 2012, or who began study before 2012 and did not complete it by 2018

With the exception of the three core courses that can be added post-degree, as described below, the 2012 requirements, which include California-specific content, must be included within degrees earned in California. Students are advised to only enroll in graduate counseling programs in California that have been pre-approved by the BBS. View the list

Online degrees
Jurisdiction of the degree earned (in-state or out-of-state) defaults to the jurisdiction of the university/program. Please consult your program or the Board of Behavioral Sciences for further clarification.

Out-of-state applicants
May be able to add units and courses to degrees earned in out-of-state universities, while the applicant was residing in that state.

A 60-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 field work study (280 face-to-face hours), and contains at least 3 semester units, or four and one half quarter units, of coursework in 10 of the following 13 core content areas. Beginning January 1, 2017, content areas E and G must be completed within the degree and cannot be remediated post-degree. Note that CALPCC sponsored a bill that will take effect January 1, 2019, which will allow remediation of content areas E and G until August 31, 2020. All 13 core areas must be completed before education can be approved.

The 13 Core Content Areas


Including the counseling process in a multicultural society, an orientation to wellness and prevention, counseling theories to assist in selection of appropriate counseling interventions, models of counseling consistent with current professional research and practice, development of a personal model of counseling, and multidisciplinary responses to crises, emergencies, and disasters.


Including normal and abnormal behavior and an understanding of developmental crises, disability, psychopathology, and situational and environmental factors that affect both normal and abnormal behavior.


Including career development decision-making models and interrelationships among and between work, family, and other life roles and factors, including the role of multicultural issues in career development.


Including principles of group dynamics, group process components, group developmental stage theories, therapeutic factors of group work, group leadership styles and approaches, pertinent research and literature, group counseling methods, and evaluation of effectiveness.


Including basic concepts of standardized and non-standardized testing and other assessment techniques, norm-referenced and criterion-referenced assessment, statistical concepts, social and cultural factors related to assessment and evaluation of individuals and groups, and ethical strategies for selecting, administering, and interpreting assessment instruments and techniques in counseling.


Including counselors’ roles in developing cultural self-awareness, identity development, promoting cultural social justice, individual and community strategies for working with and advocating for diverse populations, and counselors’ roles in eliminating biases and prejudices, and processes of intentional and unintentional oppression and discrimination.


Including differential diagnosis, and the use of current diagnostic tools, such as the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the impact of co-occurring substance use disorders or medical psychological disorders, established diagnostic criteria for mental or emotional disorders, and the treatment modalities and placement criteria within the continuum of care.


Including studies that provide an understanding of research methods, statistical analysis, the use of research to inform evidence-based practice, the importance of research in advancing the profession of counseling, and statistical methods used in conducting research, needs assessment, and program evaluation.


Including California law and professional ethics for professional clinical counselors, professional ethical standards and legal considerations, licensing law and process, regulatory laws that delineate the profession’s scope of practice, counselor-client privilege, confidentiality, the client dangerous to self or others, treatment of minors with or without parental consent, relationship between practitioner’s sense of self and human values, functions and relationships with other human service providers, strategies for collaboration, and advocacy processes needed to address institutional and social barriers that impede access, equity, and success for clients.


Including the biological bases of behavior, basic classifications, indications, and contraindications of commonly prescribed psychopharmacological medications so that appropriate referrals can be made for medication evaluations and so that the side effects of those medications can be identified.


Including substance abuse, co-occurring disorders, and addiction, major approaches to identification, evaluation, treatment, and prevention of substance abuse and addiction, legal and medical aspects of substance abuse, populations at risk, the role of support persons, support systems, and community resources.


Including crisis theory; multidisciplinary responses to crises, emergencies, or disasters; cognitive, affective, behavioral, and neurological effects associated with trauma; brief, intermediate and long-term approaches; and assessment strategies for clients in crisis and principles of intervention for individuals with mental or emotional disorders during times of crisis, emergency, or disaster.


Including the application of counseling constructs, assessment and treatment planning, clinical interventions, therapeutic relationships, psychopathology, or other clinical topics.


In addition to the course requirements described above, fifteen semester- units of advanced coursework to develop knowledge of specific treatment issues or special populations, must be included in the degree.

Instruction must include:

(1) Human sexuality and the study of the physiological, psychological and social cultural variables associated with sexual behavior, gender identity and psychosexual dysfunction

(2) Spousal or partner abuse assessment, intervention strategies and same-gender abuse dynamics

(3) Child abuse assessment and reporting (seven hours required)

(4) Aging and long-term care, including biological, social, cognitive and psychological aspects of aging

California-specific content: Instruction must include methods of service delivery in recovery-oriented practice environments and integrate an understanding of various cultures found in California and the social and psychological implications of socioeconomic position.

View the entire section 4999.33 in the bill, regarding education for those who begin study after 2012, or who begin study before 2012 and do not complete it by 2018.

Supervision: A minimum of 3,000 post-degree hours of supervised experience, by a LPCC, LMFT, LCSW, licensed psychologist or licensed physician and surgeon, who is certified in psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, 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.

Examination: Passing score on the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE) and the California Law and Ethics Exam, which are taken at the completion of the supervised hours. Beginning in 2016 the California Law & Ethics Exam will be taken in the first year of internship.


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