Washington State Licensing Requirements

licensing-washingtonWashington state is a great place for many reasons, but a lot of people here simply like to help others by practicing social work, therapy, professional counseling or psychology. If you want to join the ranks, what degree should you pursue, and what do you need to get licensed to practice in the helping professions?

Your education will give you the training and teach you the skills to help people cope with life issues such as anxiety and depression, overcome mental-health problems, and generally improve the quality of their lives. Keep reading to learn about going to psychology school in Washington state if you want to be part of the solution.

Getting Licensed to Practice in Washington

Licensure is an important step before you can become a legally practicing social worker, psychologist, therapist or counselor.

To become licensed, you’ll need to go to college, 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 Washington Department of Health (DOH): Licenses, Permits and Certificates. Make sure to consult the WA DOH for the full, up-to-date requirements.


  • Doctoral degree in psychology or related field
  • Passing score on the Examination for the Professional Practice in Psychology
  • Completion of the jurisprudence exam
  • Seven hours of AIDS education and training
  • One-year residency
  • Practicum and internship with at least 3,300 supervised hours (Practicum must include 300 hours of direct experience; internship must include 1,500 hours of supervised experience)

Mental Health Counselor

  • Master’s or doctorate in mental health counseling or related field
  • Passing score on the National Counselor Exam or the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam
  • Supervised 36-month (or 3000-hour) experience counseling full time with a licensed mental health counselor or equivalent (1200 hours must be direct counseling)

Marriage and Family Therapist

  • Master’s or doctorate in marriage and family therapy or equivalent behavioral science degree
  • Passing score on the Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards Exam
  • Four hours of HIV/AIDS education and training
  • Two years of full-time marriage and family therapy
  • At least 3000 hours of experience (1000 hours must be direct client contact; 500 of those 1000 must be spent in diagnosing and treating couples and families)
  • 200-hour supervision (100 hours must be one-on-one; the other may be with a group; 100 hours must be supervised by a licensed marriage and family therapist)

Social Worker

  • Master’s or doctoral degree in social work
  • Passing score on the American Association of Social Work Boards exam
  • At least 3200 hours of experience (800 of which must be direct client contact)
  • Completion of 90-hour of supervision by a licensed advanced social worker or a licensed independent clinical social worker who has been employed for two or more years (40 hours must be one-on-one supervision)

Making the Most of Your Degree

While you’re in your psychology program, you may want to think about joining appropriate professional associations that accept students. Membership in organizations such as the Washington Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers offers great benefits:

  • Access to job databases and resources
  • Forums for interacting with peers and experts in your field
  • Information about legislation that affects your work, and what you can do about new laws that affect your specialty area
  • Consultation with advocates and mentors in your profession

So which subfield of psychology is right for you: counselor, therapist, social worker or psychologist? Make sure to get off on make sure you’ll be efficient in your studies and can get into the right helping profession for you.

Source: www.doh.wa.gov/LicensesPermitsandCertificates/ProfessionsNewReneworUpdate


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