Alabama State Licensing Requirements
Alabama is a great place to study to become a social worker, therapist, counselor or psychologist. But what degree should you get, and what do you need to do to be licensed to practice in the helping professions?
If you would like to get the training and skills to help people cope with life issues such as depression, anxiety, and phobias, overcome mental-health problems, and just generally lead more fulfilling lives, keep reading to learn about going to psychology school in Alabama.
Getting Licensed to Practice in Alabama
Licensing is a mandatory step before you can become a practicing social worker, psychologist, therapist or counselor.
Once you’ve earned your degree, you’ll need to pass a state and/or national exam and meet other licensing requirements in your particular field of study. Here are some of the requirements to practice in the following fields, according to the Alabama Board of Examiners in Psychology and other regulatory bodies. Make sure to consult the appropriate licensing board for the full requirements.
- Doctoral degree in psychology from a department of school of psychology from an educational institution accredited and recognized by national and regional accrediting agencies as maintaining satisfactory standards
- As part of your doctoral studies, an internship in clinical psychology which emphasized assessment, diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders (the specifics change depending on the branch of psychology specialization)
- Four positive references from other psychologists
- Passing score on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
Licensed Professional Counselor
- Master’s or doctoral degree in counseling from a regionally accredited institution of higher learning. This degree will include a practicum of 100 clock hours and an internship of 600 clock hours.
- A passing score on the National Counselor Examination (NCE) or acceptable substitution, such as the NMHCE
- 3,000 hours of supervised experience in professional counseling. Applicants may subtract 1,500 hours for every 15 graduate semester hours obtained beyond the master’s degree, if those hours are clearly related to the professional counseling and are acceptable to the Board of Examiners in Counseling. In no case will applicants have less than 1,000 hours of supervised experience.
Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)
- Graduation from a regionally accredited college or university with a master’s or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy (or in an allied field with graduate-level coursework in marriage and family therapy)
- Completion of a 12-month internship with 100 supervised hours, either during the qualifying degree and/or as a post-degree experience; a minimum of 500 direct client contact hours obtained concurrently with required supervision (250 of these client contact hours must be with couples or families physically present
- A passing grade on the National Examination in Marital and Family Therapy
- Two calendar years of work experience in marriage and family therapy under qualified supervision, including the following:
- A minimum of two years post-degree full time (30 or more clock hours per week) MFT work experience or the equivalent part time MFT work experience under the supervision of a Board Approved Supervisor, and
- Completion of 200 hours of post degree supervision, 100 of which must be individual.
There are four levels of social workers in Alabama: bachelor social worker, graduate social worker, certified social worker (LCSW), and the highest level, Private Independent Practice (PIP). To get PIP licensure, you’ll need to meet the following requirements:
- Must hold licensure as a LCSW prior to applying
- Master’s degree or higher in social work from a CSWE-accredited program
- Pass the clinical-level national exam administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); this will have happened at the master of social work level
- Three years of full-time or five years of part-time post-graduate (post-MSW) experience or one year full-time or two years part-time experience as a licensed certified social worker (LCSW)
Check the Alabama Board of Social Work Examiners for more details.
Making the Most of Your Degree
While you’re completing your studies, you should learn about the professional associations that accept students. Membership in organizations such as the Alabama Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers offers great benefits:
- Access to job databases and community resources
- Forums for interacting with peers and experts in your field
- Information about legislation that affects your work, and what you can do about it
- Consultation with advocates in your profession regarding legal and ethical issues
So which field of psychology is right for you: counselor, therapist, social worker or psychologist? Make sure to get off on the right foot, and research your degree options and licensure requirements early to ensure that you’ll be efficient in your studies and can get into the right helping profession for you.
Sources: www.psychology.state.al.us, www.abec.state.al.us, www.amhc.state.al.us, www.socialwork.alabama.gov