If you want to help people cope with challenging life issues and overcome mental health problems, a career as a psychologist, counselor, therapist, or social worker could be a great option for your future. And what better place to practice than in the great state of Hawaii? Before you can pursue your psychology or therapy career in Hawaii however, you’ll need to first earn your license.
Keep reading to learn Hawaii’s specific requirements and the steps you’ll need to earn your degree, get your license, and pursue a meaningful and rewarding career in these in-demand fields.
Psychology Licensure in Hawaii
To work as a practicing psychologist in Hawaii, you’ll need to complete the requirements laid out by the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA), Professional & Vocational Licensing (PVL). Below you’ll find detailed information that explains how to become a licensed psychologist in the state.
Psychologist education requirements
To qualify for licensure, you must hold a doctoral degree in psychology or educational psychology from a regionally accredited university, or hold a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from a program approved by the American Psychological Association (APA).
If you have a doctoral degree in psychology or educational psychology from a regionally accredited university, you must submit a training report form as part of your application for licensure that shows you have 6 or more graduate semester hours in the following areas:
- Biological bases of behavior, physiological psychology, comparative psychology, neuropsychology, sensation and perception, psychopharmacology
- Cognitive-affective basis of behavior, learning, thinking, motivation, emotion
- Social bases of behavior, social psychology, group processes, organizational and systems theory, community psychology
- Individual differences, personality theory, human development, abnormal psychology
- Psychodiagnosis and individual assessment, intellectual, personality and behavioral assessment
- Therapy, child or adult intervention, or both
In addition, you must also have at least 3 or more graduate semester hours in the following areas:
- Scientific and professional ethics and standards
- History and systems
- Research design and methodology
- Statistics and psychometrics
However, if you have a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from an APA approved program, you do not have to complete the training report form mentioned above.
As part of your doctoral program, you must also complete 1,900 hours of an internship that is approved by the APA or part of an organized health service training program in psychology. The internship must be supervised by a licensed psychologist, a psychologist who holds an American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) diplomate or certificate, or a person who holds a doctoral degree in psychology from an accredited university who has had 2 years of postdoctoral experience.
After you have completed 1,900 hours of an internship during graduate school, you must also complete another 1,900 hours of supervised internship experience after you have earned your doctorate.
You must also pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), a computerized licensing exam that consists of 225 multiple choice questions.
Psychology licensing requirements
No matter when you obtain your license, it will always expire on June 30th of each even-numbered year. You must renew it by filling out an application for renewal and paying a fee.
You must also complete a minimum of 18 credit hours of continuing education courses every 2 years. These courses must be approved by the APA or the Hawaii Psychological Association.
Hawaii does not offer reciprocity or automatically recognize psychologist licenses from other states, but you can still apply for licensure if you relocate.
One option is to fill out the psychologist application form and use an examination waiver if you already hold a license or certificate in good standing from another state that has psychologist requirements that are equivalent to Hawaii’s.
In addition, you can apply for licensure as a senior psychologist, if you have been licensed for at least 20 years in the U.S., hold a doctoral degree, and have no disciplinary action against you. Or, if you hold a diplomate certificate in good standing through the ABPP, you can also meet Hawaii’s requirements for licensure.
A separate licensure application form is also available for those who hold a Certificate of Professional Qualification in Psychology (CPQ) or a credential with the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology (NR).
Mental Health Counselor Licensure in Hawaii
The Hawaii DCCA also sets requirements for how to become a licensed mental health counselor in Hawaii, as described below.
In order to become a licensed professional counselor, you must hold a master’s degree or doctoral degree in counseling or a related field from an accredited university.
If your degree is not in counseling and is in a related field, the graduate coursework must include at least 48 semester hours in the following areas:
- Human growth and development
- Social and cultural foundations
- Counseling theories and applications
- Group theory and practice
- Career and lifestyle development
- Appraisal of human behavior
- Test and measurements
- Research and program evaluation
- Professional orientation and ethics
Each of these courses must include at least 3 semester hours.
As part of your degree program, you must also complete a supervised mental health practicum internship experience that lasts a minimum of 2 academic terms. The internship must take place in a mental health counseling setting and include 300 hours of supervised client interaction.
After you graduate, you must continue to gain experience with at least 3,000 hours of mental health counseling, including 100 hours of face-to-face clinical supervision. These hours must be completed in a time frame of 2-4 years.
The final requirement is that you pass the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE).
Mental health counseling licensing requirements
Once you have become a licensed counselor, you must renew your license every 3 years. However, there are no continuing education requirements for licensure renewal.
The steps for how to become a licensed counselor are similar even if you are relocating from out of state. If you are currently licensed as a mental health counselor in another state and wish to obtain a license in Hawaii, you still must show that you have met or exceeded Hawaii’s requirements for licensure.
Marriage and Family Therapist Licensure in Hawaii
To become a licensed marriage and family therapist in Hawaii, you must submit a license application and fulfill the requirements outlined in the following section.
To qualify for licensure, you must hold a master’s or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy or a field related to mental health counseling.
The postgraduate degree you earn must be from an accredited university.
Your graduate studies must include 9 graduate semester hours in the following subjects:
- Marriage and family studies
- Marriage and family therapy
- Human development
In addition, you must have completed at least 3 graduate semester hours in these subjects:
- Ethical and professional studies
As part of your degree program, you must obtain 300 supervised client contact hours within a 1-year practicum experience.
Once you have graduated, you have 24 months to complete 1,000 hours of direct marriage and family therapy experience and 20 hours of clinical experience. Your supervisor must be a licensed marriage and family therapist in good standing.
In addition to your field experience, you must pass the National Marital and Family Therapy (NMFT) exam to become a licensed therapist.
Marriage and family therapy licensing requirements
No matter when you get your license, you must renew it every 3 years by December 31 and pay a renewal fee. During the renewal period, you must also complete at least 45 credit hours of continuing education courses with a minimum of 6 credit hours in ethics courses.
All of these courses must be approved by a specific accrediting body, such as:
- The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
- American Psychological Association
- Hawaii Psychological Association
- National Association of Social Workers
- National Board for Certified Counselors and Affiliates
Licensed marriage and family therapists in other states that have met requirements that are equivalent or higher than Hawaii’s standards may be eligible for licensure.
Social Work Licensure in Hawaii
Social work licensure is also obtained through the Hawaii DCCA. You must be licensed before being employed as a social worker in Hawaii; you cannot even use the letters SW after your name without a license.
LBSW, LSW, and LCSW: What’s the difference?
Hawaii has 3 levels of licensure. In order to qualify for each type, you must meet different social worker requirements:
- Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW): To be eligible, you must hold a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from an accredited program and pass the basic or bachelor’s national examination given by the ASWB.
- Licensed Social Worker (LSW): You must hold a Master of Social Work (MSW) or Doctor of Social Work (DSW) from an accredited program and pass the intermediate, advanced, or clinical national examination given by the ASWB.
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW): You must hold an MSW or DSW from an accredited program, pass the clinical level national examination administrated by the ASWB, and complete at least 3,000 hours of post-graduate supervised clinical social work experience in an agency setting within 2-5 years. These hours must include a minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical diagnosis, assessment, and psychotherapy, a maximum of 900 hours of client-centered advocacy and consultation, and at least 100 hours of in-person supervision.
In Hawaii, you must hold at least a bachelor’s degree in social work, and it must be accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) before you are eligible to take the licensure test. Typical BSW programs focus on social welfare, human behavior, and similar subjects and will allow you to apply for entry-level positions once you’re licensed.
To work in advanced positions, you will need a master’s degree that is accredited by the CSWE or a doctorate in social work that is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges; often social workers will begin working in the field once they earn their BSW and continue working towards their MSW in their spare time.
Your BSW will typically take 4 years to earn, and your MSW another 1-2 years. Master’s programs include classes on diverse topics such as social and economic justice, diverse populations, and assessment. Basically, a BSW will allow you to work in an agency setting only; your MSW will allow you to work as a social worker or clinical social worker once you pass the appropriate licensing.
Social work licensing requirements
Regardless of when your license is issued, you must renew it on or before June 30th every 3 years. Beginning in 2016, social workers have been required to complete 45 credit hours of continuing education, including at least 3 credit hours in ethics. These courses must be approved by the National Association of Social Workers, the National Association of Social Workers Chapter, or the ASWB.
You can’t automatically transfer an out-of-state license to Hawaii. First, the DCCA must ensure that you meet the same requirements that social workers in Hawaii have to fulfill to become licensed.
For the LBSW or the LSW license, you must submit an application form, transcript from an accredited school of social work, and verification that you passed the ASWB exam.
For the LCSW, you must submit an application, transcript, verification that you passed the ASWB clinical level exam, and documentation of 3,000 hours of clinical experience.