District of Columbia Licensing Requirements

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Washington DC is a great place to study to work in the helping professions. But what degree will you need to pursue, and what is required to get licensed to practice in social work, therapy, counseling or psychology?

If you would like to get the training and skills to help people cope with sometimes debilitating life issues, overcome mental-health problems, and generally improve the quality of their lives, keep reading to learn about licensure requirements for the following rewarding careers.

Getting Licensed to Practice in DC

Licensing is an important—and required—step before you can become a practicing social worker, psychologist, therapist or counselor. Licensure protects people from less-than-competent practitioners, and ensures that people can get the help they need.

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 DC Department of Health (DOH). Make sure to consult the DOH to find the full, most up-to-date requirements.

Psychologist

  • Doctoral degree in psychology from an institution of higher education
  • Passing score on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
  • Passing score on the District of Columbia jurisprudence exam
  • 4,000 of supervised practice within three years under the general and immediate supervision of a psychologist, psychiatrist or independent clinical social worker licensed in the District of Columbia after completion of doctoral degree
  • At least 200 hours of immediate supervision, at 100 hours of which were under the immediate supervision of licensed psychologists, and at least 150 of the 200 hours under individual supervision

Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)

  • A master’s or doctoral degree in counseling from an approved educational program from an accredited institution of higher education
  • Successful completion of National Counselor Examination (NCE) given by the National Board of Certified Counselors
  • 3,500 hours of supervised work in counseling over at least two years and not more than five; 100 hours under the immediate supervision of a licensed professional counselor, 100 hours can be under another qualified supervisor, and for every 35 hours worked, applicants must have one hour of immediate supervision

Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)

  • A master’s or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy from an accredited institution of higher education
  • A passing score on the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB)
  • Two years of full-time post-graduate supervised clinical experience, within five years of graduation, consisting of supervised clinical work experience in marriage and family therapy following completion of the first qualifying graduate degree and practicum required as part of the course of study.

Clinical Social Worker

  • Master’s degree or higher in social work from a CSWE-accredited program
  • A minimum of 3,000 hours of supervised, post-master’s or postdoctoral experience in the practice of social work (check the regulations for details about additional supervised experience required to become an independent clinical social worker)
  • Pass the national exam administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB)

For more details, consult the DC Department of Health.

Making the Most of Your Degree

Once you’re enrolled in a program to earn your degree, you should find the professional associations that accept students. Membership in organizations such as the DC Mental Health Counselors Association offers great benefits:

  • Access to job databases and community resources
  • Information about legislation that affects your work
  • Forums for interacting with peers and experts in your field
  • 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, won’t have any glitches when you apply for licensure, and can get into the right helping profession for you.

Sources: www.doh.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/doh/publication/attachments/Psychology_Application_Instructions.pdf, www.doh.dc.gov/node/160062, www.doh.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/doh/publication/attachments/Marriage%20and%20Family%20Therapy%20Regulations%202-14-2014.pdf, www.doh.dc.gov/node/129242

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