Requirements for LMHC Applicants

licensure• Graduation from a master’s or doctoral level educational program in mental health counseling or a related discipline from a college or university approved by the secretary based upon nationally recognized standards. An “approved educational program” means any college or university accredited by a national or regional accrediting body recognized by the Commission on Recognition of Postsecondary Accreditation, at the time the applicant completed the required education.

• Successful completion of an approved examination (i.e., NBCC’s National Counselor Examination for Licensure (NCE) or National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE)).

• Successful completion of a supervised experience requirement. This experience requirement must consist of a minimum of thirty-six months full-time counseling or three thousand hours of postgraduate mental health counseling under the supervision of a qualified licensed mental health counselor in an approved setting. The three thousand hours of required experience includes a minimum of one hundred hours spent in immediate supervision with the qualified licensed mental health counselor, and includes a minimum of one thousand two hundred hours of direct counseling with individuals, couples, families, or groups.

Supervision may also be provided by an “equally qualified licensed mental health practitioner” (i.e., an individual licensed as a mental health counselor, licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed clinical social worker, licensed psychologist, licensed psychiatrist, or licensed psychiatric nurse).

An “approved setting” includes facilities, agencies or private practice where an applicant works with individuals, families, couples or groups under the supervision of an approved supervisor.

“Immediate supervision” is defined as a meeting with an approved supervisor, involving one supervisor and no more than two supervisees.

• Applicants must also complete four clock hours of AIDS education as required in WAC 246-12, Part 8.


Effective May 1, 2008, the Department of Health have changed how the NCE/NCMHCE examinations will be administered.

  1. Applicants for licensure can now take the examination once they have graduated with a minimum of an MA/MS degree in a counseling-related field,
  2. Applicants apply directly to NBCC to take the examination and then with the DOH once the necessary post-graduate hours have been completed.
  3. The examinations will now be offered by computer during the first week of each calendar month.

NBCC Examination Book

For further information, please contact the Department of Health, Health Professions Quality Assurance at (360) 236 – 4700.

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