West Virginia State Licensing Requirements
West Virginia is a great place to study to become a social worker, therapist, counselor or psychologist.
But what degree should you pursue, 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, overcome mental-health problems, and just generally improve the quality of their lives, keep reading to learn about going to psychology school in West Virginia.
Getting Licensed to Practice in West Virginia
Licensing is an important 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 West Virginia Board of Examiners in Psychology (BEP) and other governing bodies. Make sure to consult the appropriate licensing board to find the most up-to-date requirements.
- Master’s or doctoral degree in psychology granted by an accredited institution of higher learning
Once approved, applicants will receive a “Gold Card” indicating that they are Board-Approved Supervised Psychologists
- Master’s level Supervised Psychologists are required to complete five years of supervised practice
- After completing the 5 years of supervised work with the required number of face-to-face supervision hours, supervised psychologists are eligible to sit for their oral examination
- Passing score on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
- 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, for master’s degree holders; 1,500 hours of supervised experience, for doctoral degree holders
- At least 50% of the supervised counseling experience must be in direct counseling services to clients
Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)
- Graduation from an accredited college or university with a master’s or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy. Accrediting bodies can be any of the following: COAMFTE, CACREP, NCACS or SACS.
- The graduate work must include a one-year supervised practicum which includes 300 hours of direct contact with individuals, couples and families, and 50% of the 300 hours must be with couples and families present.
- A passing grade on the Examination in Marital and Family Therapy offered by the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB) or another exam approved by the Board
- Applicants with a master’s degree must have two years and 3,000 hours of supervised post-graduate work experience in marriage and family therapy. At least 50% of those hours must be in direct therapy to individuals, couples or families.
There are four levels of social workers in West Virginia: licensed social worker, licensed graduate social worker, licensed certified social worker and licensed independent clinical social worker. To become a licensed independent clinical social worker, you’ll need to meet the following requirements:
- 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
- Applicants must have a minimum of two years of full-time or, 3,000 hours of part-time post-masters clinical experience while under the supervision of a qualified Clinical Licensed Social Worker.
- Clinical supervision must consist of at least 100 hours, 60 hours of which in face-to-face individual or group supervision meetings with the clinical supervisor during at least two years of full-time or 3,000 hours of part-time post-master’s employment in clinical social work practice.
- Check the West Virginia Board of Social Work for more details.
Making the Most of Your Studies
Once you’re enrolled in a psychology, social work, counseling or therapy program, you will want to learn about the professional associations that accept students. Membership in organizations such as the West Virginia Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers offers great benefits:
- Access to job databases and community resources
- Consultation with mentors and advocates in your profession
- Information about legislation that affects your work
- Forums for interacting with peers and experts in your field
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.wvpsychbd.org, www.wvbec.org, www.wvsocialworkboard.org