Agency Affiliated Counselor Frequently Asked Questions

What is the definition of an agency affiliated counselor?

“Agency affiliated counselor” means a person registered under this chapter who is engaged in counseling and employed by an agency. “Agency affiliated counselor” includes juvenile probation counselors who are employees of the juvenile court under RCW 13.04.035 and 13.04.040 and juvenile court employees providing functional family therapy, aggression replacement training, or other evidence-based programs approved by the Department of Children, Youth and Families.

What is the definition of a peer counselor practicing as an agency affiliated counselor?

A peer counselor practicing as an agency affiliated counselor is a person who is engaged in peer counseling, and who is employed by an agency, county or federally recognized tribe. They must be registered under chapter 18.19 RCW and may need to be a certified peer counselor with the Health Care Authority under certain conditions. The agency affiliated counselor registration and HCA certification are required for those who provide Medicaid-billable services at an agency.

What is the definition of a student intern practicing as an agency affiliated counselor? Is this required for all student interns?

A student intern practicing as an agency affiliated counselor is a person who is currently enrolled in a college or university counseling program and who is working in an agency, county, or federally recognized tribe in order to earn experience towards graduation requirements.

Is an intern required to apply for an agency affiliated counselor registration?

Student interns are not required to apply for the agency affiliated counselor registration. Students enrolled in an educational program are exempt from credentialing requirements per RCW 18.19.040. However, the agency may require them to be registered to satisfy a condition of an internship or practicum.

What is the duration of the credential for a student intern practicing as an agency affiliated counselor issued for and is the credential renewable?

An agency affiliated counselor who is a student intern will be issued a credential that will expire on their birthdate. If the credential is issued and the birthdate is less than 90days after issuance date, they will need to renew on their next birthday. The credential will expire annually on the applicant's birthday and is renewable if they are still practicing as part of the internship or practicum or are an employee of the agency.

What if the agency wants to hire a student intern as an agency affiliated counselor after the internship or practicum ends?

If they currently hold an agency affiliated counselor, no action is required, they can continue to renew on their birthday. If they don't hold the agency affiliated counselor credential, then they would need to apply for the registration.

May I provide counseling while my agency affiliated counselor credential is being processed?

Yes. Per WAC 246-810-015 if you apply for this credential within 30 days of employment, you may provide counseling while your application is processed. The department will review the application and if further information is required it will issue a letter listing the deficiencies. The applicant will have 90 days from the date of the deficiency letter to provide all necessary documentation. If the required documentation is not received by the department within 90 days, the applicant must stop working until the credential is issued.

What is the definition of an agency?

An agency or facility operated, licensed or certified by the state of Washington, a Washington State county, or federally recognized Indian tribe located within the state.

How do I know if I qualify for the co-occurring disorder specialist enhancement?

An agency affiliated counselor may obtain the enhancement credential if:

  • They have a master's degree or an advanced degree in counseling or one of the social sciences from an accredited college or university.
  • Has at least two years of experience in direct treatment of persons with mental illness or emotional disturbance which were obtained under the supervision of a mental health professional.

To apply for the enhancement credential please visit the Co-Occurring Enhancement webpage.

When do I need to submit my application?

An application must be received by the department within 30 days of employment for the applicant to be able to work while it is being processed.

May I provide unsupervised counseling?

No, you may not provide unsupervised counseling until the completion of a criminal background check by either your employer or the department.

How do changes to the Uniform Disciplinary Act affect peer counselors working as agency affiliated counselors?

RCW 18.130.175 and RCW 43.43.842 were modified to reduce barriers to licensure for peer counselors working as agency-affiliated counselors. These changes apply only to applicants for the agency-affiliated counselor registration who are also certified peer counselors with the Health Care Authority.

  • Applicants with one year in recovery from a substance use disorder are not required to enter a monitoring program. Applicants with less than one year will be required to be in a monitoring program only until they achieve one year in recovery.
  • Applicants convicted of a crime identified in RCW 18.19 cannot be automatically denied if:
    • One year has passed since the conviction;
    • The offense was committed as a result of their substance use or untreated mental health symptom; and
    • They are at least one in year in recovery from their substance use disorder or in recovery for mental health challenges.
What is unsupervised counseling?

Unsupervised counseling means the supervisor is not physically present at the location where the counseling occurs.

Are certain practices and settings exempt from requiring a credential to practice counseling?

Yes. The legislature identified exemptions in statute. You can find the "exemption activities and individuals" in the rules under RCW 18.19.040 or WAC 246-810-011

I'm a state employee providing counseling services as part of my position. Do I have to have a credential?

Yes, if you meet the definition of counseling as defined in RCW 18.19.020 you're required to have a counseling credential.

I work for an agency that has a business license in the state of Washington. Will my employer's business license by itself qualify me to register as an agency affiliated counselor?

No, your employer's business license by itself doesn't meet the standard to employ agency affiliated counselors. Your employer should review WAC 246-810-017 on becoming recognized to employ agency affiliated counselors.

I am a state employee and provide counseling services as part of my job. When I apply for agency affiliated counselor, will I need to document my degree and take a test?

No. Agency affiliated counselors are not required to send documentation of a degree or take an examination. However, applicants must pass a criminal background check.

I have a counseling credential issued by the Department of Health; do I also need an agency affiliated counselor credential to work in an agency?

The Department of Health doesn't require you to have an agency affiliated counselor credential as long as you are working within the scope of practice of your counseling credential. You would need to follow the requirements set forth by your agency.

What are the continuing education requirements for agency affiliated counselors?

There are no continuing education requirements.

I don't work for a state agency or county, federally recognized tribe or for an agency or facility operated, licensed or certified by the state. May I register as an agency affiliated counselor?

No. You don't qualify for an agency affiliated counselor registration.

I am not a state employee, but I work for a facility licensed by the state. I do not see my facility listed in the rules as being recognized. May my facility request to be recognized so I can be registered as an agency affiliated counselor?

Yes. Your facility may request to be recognized, but a review will be conducted to confirm the facility is licensed or certified. WAC 246-810-017

If I work for a recognized state agency, facility, or county that employs agency affiliated counselors and I obtain a second job at another recognized facility, do I need to complete another "Employment Verification" form?

Yes. WAC 246-810-018 states agency affiliated counselors must notify the department within 30 calendar days if they're no longer employed by the agency identified on their application, or are now employed with another agency, or both. You must complete another employment verification form (PDF) with your new employment facility information and title description. You do not need to complete another application or pay an additional fee. Agency affiliated counselors may not practice counseling unless they are employed by an agency.

How can my agency obtain a license or certification as an agency or facility to employ agency affiliated counselors?

WAC 246-810-016 lists the agencies or facilities that may employ agency affiliated counselors. Most of these agencies or facilities are credentialed by the Department of Health or the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). You will need to contact the appropriate agency to obtain the credentialing requirements.

What if my agency does not qualify for licensure or certification listed in WAC 246-810-016 or recognized by the secretary of health?

You would need to provide documentation such as a certificate from the licensing agency that your agency is licensed, operated or certified by the state to provide specific counseling services. Agencies that don't provide this documentation may not employ agency affiliated counselors.

Does my license as a psychologist, licensed mental health counselor, licensed social worker, licensed marriage and family therapist or certified counselor allow me to employ agency affiliated counselors in my private practice?

No, the agency affiliated counselor credential isn't a private practice credential.

I am an agency affiliated counselor working toward licensure as a marriage and family therapist, mental health counselor or social worker; can I earn post-graduate supervised hours as an agency affiliated counselor?

Yes.

How do I renew my credential?

You may find out how to renew your credential, request a duplicate credential or change your name or address on our Customer Service webpage.

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