Like most states, Florida requires that mental health counselors obtain licensure before beginning professional practice within the state. These counselors, who may provide mental health services to both individuals and groups, must apply for a license through the Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling. Licensure is particularly important for prospective counselors, as it sets standards for those who can play a critical role in supporting the mental and emotional health of clients.
Education & Experience
Prospective Florida counselors must have an accredited master's degree in counseling to be eligible for licensure. Those who have a graduate degree in counseling in a concentration other than mental health must have completed related coursework as well as a university-supervised practicum in mental health counseling with a minimum length of 1,000 hours. After graduation, these individuals must gain two years of supervised experience by working with a licensed mental health counselor. This two-year requirement should consist of 1,500 hours of working directly with clients.
Taking the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination from the National Board of Certified Counselors is required for Florida licensure. This exam not only meets the state board's licensing regulations but also nationally certifies counselors. The exam, which contains several clinical simulations, covers a variety of areas related to the practice of mental health counseling. These include client evaluation, diagnoses and treatment plan development. Candidates also are tested on ethical issues and their ability to make professional judgments regarding client needs.
The Florida board requires further training to meet the licensing regulations for mental health counselors. This involves taking additional courses from an approved provider. Prior to obtaining a license, candidates must complete a two-hour course on medical errors prevention as well as an eight-hour course in legal issues. Additional training must be taken within six months of obtaining the state license. This includes a three-hour course in HIV/AIDS and another three-hour course in domestic violence.
In some cases, licensed candidates are unable to meet the documentation requirements for the post-graduate practice requirements. The Florida board permits these individuals to apply for licensure by endorsement. They must have an active license and have practiced mental health counseling in the state for the last three years. All other requirements must be met. A provisional license valid for two years is available to counselors who need to complete certain requirements, such as additional training.