Credentialing Information for Counselors

Washington State Mental Health Counselor Certification

At the present time, Washington State has two levels of counselor credentialing. The first level, Registered Counselor, requires no formal education or training in the field of counseling. Rather, registered counselors are simply required to complete an application form, pay a fee, and show evidence of having completed a state-approved HIV/AIDS/STD workshop.

The second level of credentialing, Certified Mental Health Counselor, requires formal graduate training and postgraduate supervised experience prior to obtaining this professional certification. Both the Washington Administrative Code and the Revised Code of Washington provide important information about the requirements for becoming a certified mental health counselor in Washington State. The Washington State Department of Health is the state agency responsible for overseeing the certification of counselors. For more information, please visit the links provided below.

It is important for you to know that the M.S. Mental Health Counseling program at CWU is designed to meet the course work requirements for certification as a mental health counselor in Washington State. Nonetheless, any candidate for certification must still complete the postgraduate supervised experience requirements specified in the law. If you have questions about the ways in which the CWU program assists in preparation for state certification, please contact the Counseling Programs Director or the CCPAC Co-Director in charge of counseling practicum training.

Washington State School Counselor Certification

The CWU School Counselor Program has been approved by the Washington State Board of Education to provide a program of study leading to Educational Staff Associate School Counselor certification. The State Board of Education?s standards for certification of school counselors require that the candidate complete an approved Master?s degree program in counseling which has been developed in concert with school and professional organizations. Central Washington University is affiliated with an Educational Staff Associate (ESA) Professional Education Advisory Board for the preparation of school counselors. The program emphasizes supervised practicum and field experiences.

Upon completion of the Master?s degree and certification program, the individual will be qualified for the residency level certificate as a school counselor in the State of Washington. Candidates for residency certification generally follow the two-year program leading to the Master of Education degree in School Counseling. Candidates who have already earned a Master?s or Doctoral degree in a related field, such as Education, Special Education, Mental Health Counseling, and School Social Work, are not required to earn a second Master?s, but must complete all requirements for the M.Ed. degree and certification program in school counseling, with the exception of the thesis. The certification program also requires satisfactory completion of a comprehensive written and oral examination.

National Counselor Certification

In addition to obtaining state certification, counselors also have the option of pursuing national certification. The National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) offers several different types of national certification; perhaps the most common is the Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). For more information about national certification and procedures for obtaining it, please click on the link below. If you have questions about the ways in which the CWU counselor training program may assist you in preparing for national certification, please contact the Counseling Programs Director or the CCPAC Co-Director in charge of counseling practicum training.

Pursuing Certification in Other States

Although the CWU counseling programs curricula are focused on insuring that graduate students receive the course work and training necessary to pursue credentialing in Washington State, it is important to note that the program curricula have been developed in consideration of national standards for counselor preparation as well. For a summary of certification requirements by state, members of the American Counseling Association may access a database via the ACA's web site. Otherwise, students are encouraged to contact the state board of education or departments of health or licensing in the states in which they are considering pursuing counselor certification. State professional counseling organizations may also be able to provide information for counselors interested in relocating to their states. Regardless of the state(s) in which a student intends to seek certification or licensing, the CWU counseling program faculty are willing to assist in preparing documentation of their course work and training for presentation to credentialing bodies.