Frequently Asked Questions

How do I decide which credential to apply for?

This is an individualized decision. You will need to review the license requirements, scope of practice, and laws relating to the counseling professions to determine which credential best fit your academic background, professional goals, and allows you to provide the services you would like to pursue. We can answer questions about the application process or credentialing requirements, however cannot tell you which credential you should apply for.

You may find the counseling professions and license requirements on the main behavioral health professions, facilities and agencies webpage. The counseling professions crosswalk (PDF) may also help you with the decision.

Agency affiliated counselor
Certified behavior technician
  • At least 18 years of age
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Current registration as a RBT from the BACB;

or

Successful completion of a 40-hour behavior technician training program outlined in WAC 246-805-310 to include:

  • Classroom, online, or supervisor-led instruction
  • Experiential learning
  • Evaluation and assessment
  • Typical practice setting - private practice or agencies/facilities
Certified counselor
  • Have a bachelor's degree in a counseling related field.
  • Pass an exam in risk assessment, ethics, appropriate screening and referral and Washington State law.
  • Have a supervisory agreement with another license holder that meets the requirements of WAC 246-810-026.
  • Typical practice setting - private practice or agencies/facilities not recognized to employ agency affiliated counselors
Certified adviser
  • Have an associate's degree in a counseling-related field.
  • Pass an exam in risk assessment, ethics, appropriate screening and referral and Washington state law
  • Have a supervisory agreement with another license holder that meets the requirements of WAC 246-810-026.
  • Typical practice setting - private practice or agencies/facilities not recognized to employ agency affiliated counselors.
Licensed assistant behavior analyst
  • Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB).

or

  • Graduation from a recognized bachelor's degree program under WAC 246-805-210. An official transcript must be provided as evidence of the degree required;
  • Successful completion of a minimum of one hundred thirty-five classroom hours of instruction in behavior analysis topics described in WAC 246-805-220. An official transcript must be provided as evidence of the course work required; and
  • Successful completion of a supervised experience requirement under WAC 246-805-230.
  • Proof of ongoing supervision in typical practice setting - private practice or agencies/facilities
Licensed behavior analyst
  • Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB).

or

  • A master's or doctorate degree in behavior analysis or other natural science, education, human services, engineering, medicine, or field related to behavior analysis approved by the secretary. An official transcript must be provided as evidence of the degree required;
  • Successful completion of a minimum of two hundred twenty-five classroom hours of graduate level instruction in behavior analysis topics. An official transcript must be provided as evidence of the course work required;
  • Successful completion of a supervised experience requirement, consisting of a minimum of one thousand five hundred hours; and
  • Successful completion of the national BCBA examination.
  • Typical practice setting - private practice or agencies/facilities
Licensed mental health counselor (LMHC)
  • Master's or doctoral degree in mental health counseling or a behavioral science master's or doctoral degree in a field relating to mental health counseling from an approved school.
  • Completion of 36 hours of continuing education; of the 36 hours at least six must be in professional ethics.
  • Typical practice setting - Facilities, agencies or private practice.
  • Under RCW 18.225.140 mental health counselors licensed in other U.S. states or territories may qualify for probationary licensure based on scope of practice equivalency. For more information, see the mental health counselor license requirements webpage.
Licensed mental health counselor associate (LMHCA)
  • Master's or doctoral degree in mental health counseling or a behavioral science master's or doctoral degree in a field relating to mental health counseling from an approved school.
  • Declaration they are working toward a full license.
  • A licensed mental health counselor associate can only renew six times, and the credential renews on the date of issuance.
  • Typical practice setting - facilities, agencies or private practice under the supervision of an approved supervisor.
Licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT)
  • A masters or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy, or a behavioral science masters or doctoral degree with equivalent coursework from an approved school. Program equivalency requirements are online.
  • Anyone who has obtained American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) clinical membership status is considered to have met the education requirements.
  • Completion of 36 hours of continuing education; of the 36 hours at least six must be in professional ethics.
  • Additional requirements are available online (PDF).
  • Typical practice setting - facilities, agencies or private practice.
  • Under RCW 18.225.140 marriage and family therapists licensed in other U.S. states or territories may qualify for probationary licensure based on scope of practice equivalency. For more information on reciprocity see the marriage and family therapist license requirements webpage.
Licensed marriage and family therapist associate (LMFTA)
  • Master's or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy or a behavioral science master's or doctoral degree with equivalent course work from approved school.
  • Declaration they are working toward a full license.
  • A licensed marriage and family therapist associate can only be renewed six times, and the credential is renewed on the date of issuance.
  • Typical practice setting - facilities, agencies or private practice under the supervision of an approved supervisor.
Licensed advanced social worker (LASW)
  • Graduation from a master's or doctoral social work educational program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and approved by the secretary based upon nationally recognized standards.
  • Completion of 36 hours of continuing education; of the 36 hours at least six must be in professional ethics.
  • Additional requirements are available online (PDF).
  • Typical practice setting - under the supervision of a licensed independent clinical social worker, case management, consultation, advocacy, counseling and community organization.
  • Under RCW 18.225.140 advanced social workers licensed in other U.S states or territories may qualify for probationary licensure based on scope of practice equivalency. For more information see the licensed advanced social worker license requirements webpage.
Licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW)
  • Graduation from a master's or doctorate level social work educational program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and approved by the secretary based upon nationally recognized standards.
  • Completion of 36 hours of continuing education; of the 36 hours at least six must be in professional ethics.
  • Additional requirements are available online (PDF).
  • Typical practice setting - facilities, agencies or private practice.
  • Under RCW 18.225.140 advanced social workers licensed in other U.S states or territories may qualify for probationary licensure based on scope of practice equivalency. For more information see the licensed independent  clinical social worker license requirements webpage.
Associate advanced (LSWAA) and independent clinical (LICSWA)
  • Graduation from a master's or doctoral social work educational program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and approved by the secretary based upon nationally recognized standards.
  • Declaration they are working toward a full license.
  • A licensed social worker associate advanced can only be renewed six times, and the credential is renewed on the date of issuance.
  • Typical practice setting - facilities, agencies or private practice under the supervision of an approved supervisor.
Psychologist
Substance use disorder professional (SUDP)
Substance use disorder professional trainee (SUDPT)
  • Written documentation to meet the eligibility criteria.
  • Declaration he/she is enrolled in an approved school and gaining the experience required to receive a chemical dependency professional certification.
  • Declaration with their annual renewal that they're enrolled in an approved education program and gaining the experience requirements for a chemical dependency professional certification.
  • A chemical dependency professional trainee can only renew four times, and renews on the date of issuance.
  • Typical practice setting - alcohol and substance abuse agencies licensed by the Department of Behavioral Health and Rehabilitation.
Who can provide clinical supervision in a licensed behavioral health agency?

All licensed behavioral health agencies are required to have at least one clinical supervisor. The requirements for clinical supervision can be found in WAC 246-341-0515.

Substance use disorder services are required to be supervised by a licensed SUDP who is an approved supervisor who meets the requirements of chapter 246-811 WAC.

Mental health services are required to be supervised by a Mental Health Professional (MHP) who has received documented training and competency in clinical supervision approved by the department. MHP is a designation (not a credential) given by the department to an agency staff member or an attestation by the licensed behavioral health agency that the person meets one of the following:

  • A psychiatrist, psychologist, physician assistant working with a supervising psychiatrist, psychiatric advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP), psychiatric nurse, or social worker as defined in chapters 71.05 and 71.34 RCW;
  • A person who is licensed by the department as a mental health counselor or mental health counselor associate, marriage and family therapist, or marriage and family therapist associate;
  • A person with an Agency Affiliated Counselor registration and a master's degree or further advanced degree in counseling or one of the social sciences from an accredited college or university who has at least two years of experience in direct treatment of persons with mental illness or emotional disturbance, experience that was gained under the supervision of a mental health professional recognized by the department or attested to by the licensed behavioral health agency;
  • A person who meets the waiver criteria of RCW 71.24.260, and the waiver was granted prior to 1986; or
  • A person who had an approved waiver to perform the duties of a mental health professional (MHP), that was requested by the behavioral health organization (BHO) and granted by the mental health division prior to July 1, 2001.

The MHP designation does not necessarily allow supervision of associates and trainees for licensure hours. For example, a designated MHP who is licensed as an Agency Affiliated Counselor and holds a master's degree but no masters-level licensure is not an approved supervisor of trainees and associates seeking hours of supervised experience. To supervise trainees and associates working toward licensure, the requirements to be an Approved Supervisor must be met.

Please see the next FAQ, “How do I know if someone is an approved supervisor that can sign off on hours for licensure?" for more information.

How do I know if someone is an approved supervisor that can sign off on hours for licensure?

An approved supervisor, who is able to sign off on the required hours for Associates and Trainees obtaining experience for full licensure, is defined within the rules for the specific professions (see table below). These are often designated as an Approved Supervisor or an Equally Qualified Licensed Mental Health Practitioner. Depending on which license type is being sought, the approved supervisor is required to either hold the same license type that the Associate or Trainee is working to obtain, or they may be allowed to hold a different type of license (i.e. the equally qualified licensed mental health practitioner). All approved supervisors must meet the education/experience requirements to be a supervisor for the license type being sought.

Please be aware that the requirements for providing supervision for an Associate or Trainee obtaining experience for full licensure may be different than the requirements for providing clinical supervision in a licensed behavioral health agency. See “Who can provide clinical supervision in a licensed behavioral health agency?” for more information.

Advanced Social Worker Associate

A portion of the hours must be specifically obtained with a LICSW or LASW.

Approved Supervisor

Advanced Social Worker, Independent Clinical Social Worker, Mental Health Counselor, Marriage and Family Therapist, Licensed Psychologist, Licensed Physician practicing as a Psychiatrist, or Licensed Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner.

Supervisor Requirements

WAC 246-809-334

Co-Occurring Disorder Specialist

Approved Supervisor

Substance Use Disorder Professional

Supervisor Requirements

RCW 18.205.105 (6)

Independent Clinical Social Worker Associate

A portion of the hours must be specifically obtained with a LICSW.

Approved Supervisor

Independent Clinical Social Worker, Mental Health Counselor, Marriage and Family Therapist, Licensed Psychologist, Licensed Physician practicing as a Psychiatrist, or Licensed Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner.

Supervisor Requirements

WAC 246-809-334

Marriage and Family Therapist Associate

A portion of the hours must be specifically obtained with a MFT.

Approved Supervisor

Independent Clinical Social Worker, Mental Health Counselor, Marriage and Family Therapist, Licensed Psychologist, Licensed Physician practicing as a Psychiatrist, or Licensed Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner.

Supervisor Requirements

WAC 246-809-134

 

Mental Health Counselor Associate

Approved Supervisor

Independent Clinical Social Worker, Mental Health Counselor, Marriage and Family Therapist, Licensed Psychologist, Licensed Physician practicing as a Psychiatrist, or Licensed Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner.

Supervisor Requirements

WAC 246-809-234

Substance Use Disorder Professional Trainee

All hours toward licensure must be under a SUDP.

Approved Supervisor

Substance Use Disorder Professional

*Supervisor must be on the premises and available to answer questions

Supervisor Requirements

WAC 246-811-049

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