Delaware Counseling License Requirements
The state of Delaware has approximately 2,890 people working across the five major counseling occupations.1-5 If you are interested in beginning a counseling career in Delaware, you will need to understand the process to become one, including the licensing regulations and the various steps to licensure. On this page, you will learn the process for becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor of Mental Health (LPCMH), as well as other counseling licenses.
Table of Contents
- How to Become a Counselor in Delaware
- Licensed Professional Counselor of Mental Health (LPCMH) Licensing Process
- Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Delaware
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
- School Counselor
- Licensed Chemical Dependency Professional (LCDP)
- Other Professional Counseling Careers
- Delaware Counseling Career and Salary Information
- Counseling Associations in Delaware
- Frequently Asked Questions
How to Become a Counselor in Delaware
In Delaware, most types of counselors must have a master’s degree that meets coursework requirements for the practice area pursued. Several schools in Delaware offer counseling programs that meet this requirement; prospective counselors may also find that degrees from schools in other states meet Delaware’s requirements as well. There will also be several other steps to complete, such as accumulating work experience, before you are eligible for full licensure. If you already hold a license in another state and are looking to practice in Delaware, visit our Counseling License Reciprocity Guide.
1. Pick an area of counseling specialization to pursue.
To become a professional counselor, you must choose an area of specialization and research the steps to licensure because each type has different education, work experience, and testing requirements. Knowing these steps before you begin your journey to becoming a counselor will save you valuable time in the licensure process.
2. Complete the education required for your counseling practice area.
Most counseling licenses require a master’s degree with related coursework. Mental health counselors must have a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling or a related field; marriage and family therapists must have a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy or a related field; and chemical dependency professionals must have a master’s degree with 30 credits in counseling-related areas. School counselors must have a master’s degree with coursework specifically in school counseling.
3. Apply for a license to practice counseling in Delaware.
You can apply for your counseling license once you have completed all the required steps. The Delaware Board of Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Professionals (the Board) issues licenses for many of the major types of counseling, including professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, and chemical dependency professionals. The Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) is responsible for school counseling credentials. Continue reading this guide to learn more about counseling licensure in Delaware.
Licensed Professional Counselor of Mental Health (LPCMH) Licensing Process
The Delaware Board of Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Professionals (the Board) issues licenses for mental health counselors. Delaware clinical counselors use clinical counseling techniques to diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders and improve personal and social development. If you would like to know more about what professional counselors do, see our mental health counselor career guide. Prospective counselors must have a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling or a related field; if the degree has fewer than 60 credits or is not in clinical mental health counseling, the applicant must complete a coursework sheet and submit course descriptions.
1. Pass the required exam.
The Board requires applicants to pass either the National Counselor Examination (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam (NCMHCE) administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). While the NCE tests for foundational counseling knowledge, the NCMHCE focuses on clinical mental health diagnosis and treatment. Refer to the NCE handbook and
NCMHCE handbooks for more information about these computer-based exams.
2. Apply for a Licensed Associate Counselor of Mental Health (LACMH) license.
After passing the exam, you can submit an application for an associate license through the DELPROS online system. As part of the application, you must complete a planned direct supervision form in collaboration with your proposed supervisor that documents how you will meet supervised experience requirements. If you have fewer than 30 post-master’s credit hours in the counseling field, you must also submit a planned professional counseling experience form. You must also submit transcripts and have your fingerprints taken for state and federal criminal background checks at an approved facility. Once approved, associate licenses expire two years from the date of issue and can be renewed twice. As of November 2022, the application fee is $262.
3. Accrue supervised experience.
Associates must complete at least 3,200 hours of supervised professional mental health counseling in at least two years but no more than four years, including at least 1,600 hours of supervised clinical experience. Of the 1,600 directly supervised hours, 1,500 must be face-to-face rendering mental health counseling services, and 750 must be in individual sessions (as opposed to group or family sessions). At least 100 hours of supervision must be provided face-to-face by an LPCMH or a pre-approved clinical mental health professional with two years of post-licensure experience and no disciplinary actions. Once completed, you must submit a direct supervision reference form, counseling experience verification form, and/or a counseling experience self-employment verification form to document your hours completed. The Board provides further information about supervision requirements online. Please note that if you have at least 30 post-master’s credit hours in counseling education, the supervised experience verification forms are not required as part of your application.
4. Apply to upgrade to a Licensed Professional Counselor of Mental Health (LPCMH).
After completing the work experience requirements, you are eligible to apply for full licensure. An application must be submitted to the Board along with the fee to upgrade from the associate license ($55 as of November 2022). Once you receive your license, you can use the professional title of LPCMH.
LPCMH Licensure by Reciprocity in Delaware
Delaware does not have formal reciprocity agreements for counseling licensure but the Board may grant a license to applicants licensed in a state with substantially similar requirements. Licensure by reciprocity applicants must submit the application form, a background check, exam results, and verification of all licenses held in other states including statues and rules of the licensure standards if the license has been active for less than five years. The licensure by reciprocity application fee is $262 as of November 2022.
Counselor License Renewal and Continuing Education Information
Licenses expire on September 30 of even-numbered years. The Board sends renewal notices via email. Licensees must complete 40 hours of continuing education (CE) during each renewal period, unless it is your first renewal. If it is your first renewal and your license was issued between April 1 and September 30 of an even-numbered year, you do not have to complete CE; if your license was issued between October 1 of an odd-numbered year and March 31 of an even-numbered year, you must complete 10 CE hours; if your license was issued between April 1 and September 30 of an odd-numbered year, you must complete 20 CE hours; and if your license was issued between October 1 of an even-numbered year and March 31 of an odd-numbered year, you must complete 30 CE hours. All CE must be entered into the CE tracker within the DELPROS portal. CE that is not completed through a recognized national mental health organization or related to the licensee’s area of professional practice should be pre-approved by submitting a service request for CE course approval through the DELPROS portal.
Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Delaware
The steps to becoming a professional counselor in Delaware will vary depending on your area of specialization. In addition to mental health counseling, the other major licensed counseling professionals in Delaware are: licensed marriage and family therapists, school counselors, and chemical dependency professionals.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
Marriage and family therapists are licensed by the Board of Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Professionals (the Board). Prospective counselors must have a 45-credit master’s degree in marriage and family therapy or a related field (counseling, social work, psychology, or psychiatry) with significant coursework in marriage and family therapy. In Delaware, LMFTs provide psychotherapy and counseling services, assess and refer clients, and develop treatment plans related to mental and emotional disorders in the context of interpersonal relationships, such as marital and family systems. The steps to becoming licensed as a marriage and family therapist are:
- Pass the Marital and Family Therapy National Examination from the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB).
- Register as a Licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (LAMFT) by submitting an application, background check, transcripts, and planned professional experience forms for both supervised and unsupervised professional experience.
- Earn 3,200 hours of experience, 1,600 of which must be supervised experience.
- Apply for and receive your LMFT license.
Read more about LMFT careers on our LMFT career guide.
If you are interested in becoming a school counselor in Delaware, you will need to apply through the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE). School counselors in the state plan comprehensive, outcome-focused, data-driven school counseling programs based on the national model from the ASCA. The school counselor designation is considered a Specialist Certification, and a certificate is offered at both the elementary and secondary levels. As educators with a Specialist certification, prospective counselors need to have, at minimum, an NCATE- or CAEP-approved or state-approved master’s degree in elementary or secondary school counseling, depending on the license sought. Those who have regionally accredited master’s degrees in other content areas must have completed 39 credits of school counseling coursework to be considered for the endorsement. Once you have met the educational requirements if you are applying as a first-time educator for a standard certificate, you will:
- Complete 700 hours of supervised experience in an elementary or secondary school setting, depending on the license sought. (If you already hold an Elementary School Counselor license and are seeking a Secondary license, or vice versa, you would only need to complete an additional 350 hours of supervised experience in an elementary/secondary school setting.)
- Pass the Praxis Professional School Counselor examination.
- Submit verification of clinical experience and receive your specialist standard certificate.
To learn more about school counseling, see our school counseling career guide.
Licensed Chemical Dependency Professional (LCDP)
The highest level of addiction counseling licensure in Delaware is the Licensed Chemical Dependency Professional (LCDP) license issued by the Board of Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Professionals (the Board). A master’s degree with at least 30 credits in counseling-related areas is required. LCDPs provide clinical addiction counseling services to individuals and groups to help clients understand alcohol and drug abuse problems, create treatment goals and plans, and address additional social and emotional needs related to addiction problems. To earn an LCDP license in Delaware, there are a variety of possible pathways you can take. In general, you should:
- Earn 3,200 hours of professional experience, 1,600 of which must be supervised experience.
- Register as a National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) National Certified Addiction Counselor (NCAC) or Master Addiction Counselor (MAC) or a Delaware Certification Board Inc. (DCB) Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC).
- Submit an application, transcripts, a background check, verification of experience, and proof of one of the above certifications.
- Request and receive your LCDP license.
Optional Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in Delaware
In addition to the LCSP license offered by the Board and described above, the Delaware Certification Board (DCB) offers other optional credentials for substance abuse professionals wishing to add on to their skills and knowledge. While these credentials are not required to practice substance abuse counseling in the state, they may increase your job possibilities and hiring potential. Credentials include:
- Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS)
- Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS)
- Certified Supervisor of Peer Specialists (CSPS)
More information about careers in substance abuse counseling can be found on our substance abuse counselor career guide.
Other Professional Counseling Careers
Professional counseling is a broad field that encompasses many different specialties. In addition to the major types of counseling outlined above, you may find employment in the following areas:
- Rehabilitation Counselor
- Gambling Counselor
- Genetic Counselor
- Youth Counselor
- Guidance Counselor
- Pastoral Counselor
- Recreational Therapist
Delaware Counseling Career and Salary Information
The majority of counselors working in Delaware are employed in the field of educational, guidance, and career counseling and advising.3 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of November 2022, this is also the highest-paying counseling area in Delaware with an average annual salary of $67,910 for the 1,210 counselors working in the field, which is about 7.6% above the national average.3 Though it only employs 230 counselors, the practice area of marriage and family therapy reports Delaware’s second-highest average salary in counseling of $54,540.2
Several major practice areas in counseling are expected to add new positions over the coming years to support Delaware’s population growth. According to Projections Central, the counseling field estimated to add the highest number of future positions is substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counseling, projected to add 210 jobs through 2030 for a 35% increase.6 Two other practice areas that are projected to add a relatively high number of jobs are educational, guidance, and career counseling and advising and rehabilitation counseling. Both of these fields are projected to add 100 new positions and 50 new positions by 2030, respectively.6
|Occupation||Number Employed1-5||Average Annual Salary1-5|
|Counselors, All Other||N.Av.||N.Av.|
|Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors||1,210||$67,910|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||230||$54,540|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||1,050||$47,950|
Counseling Associations in Delaware
- Delaware School Counselors Association (DSCA): Creates a community for school counselors to share knowledge, resources, and ethical best practices.
- Mental Health Association in Delaware (MHA): Supports the advancement of mental health for all residents of the state with community education and advocacy.
- Metro Marriage and Family Therapists (Metro MFT): Regional organization that hosts professional networking events and advocates for marriage and family therapists.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the work experience requirements for counseling licensure?
Prospective counselors must complete 3,200 hours of work experience in two to four years. Of these hours, 1,600 must be completed under approved supervision and 1,500 must be face-to-face mental health counseling services. At least 750 hours must be individual counseling sessions; the remaining hours can be provided in individual or group settings. The supervisees must receive 100 hours of direct supervision during this time. Hours completed without a pre-approved supervisor will only be counted towards the 1,600 hours of work experience that are not required to be supervised.
Can Delaware professional counselors provide telehealth services?
Mental health counseling, chemical dependency counseling, and marriage and family therapy services provided by communication technology, such as videoconferencing, are considered telehealth services. The Board allows licensed counselors to deliver telehealth services within the state of Delaware provided the counselor is knowledgeable about evidence-based telehealth techniques. Counselors must also conduct a risk-benefit analysis for each case to determine if telehealth methods are appropriate and retain this analysis in the client’s file.
What are the continuing education (CE) requirements in Delaware?
The Board requires counselors to complete 40 hours of CE during each renewal period. CE hours offered by mental health organizations such as the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) and American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) or activities specifically related to professional competence do not require pre-approval from the Board. Other activities should be pre-approved by the Board as approval cannot be guaranteed afterward. Licensees should keep supporting documents, such as course syllabi, to demonstrate the course content. Teaching courses, presenting papers, or writing a journal article may account for up to 20 CE hours during each renewal period.
Who can provide counseling supervision in Delaware?
Professional counselors must be supervised by an LPCMH or a pre-approved clinical mental health professional, such as a clinical social worker, a clinical psychologist, a psychiatrist, an LMFT, or an advanced practice registered nurse. If the supervisor is not licensed in Delaware, they must demonstrate to the Board that they are qualified to provide clinical supervision.
Supervisors must have at least two years of post-licensure experience with no disciplinary actions and at least three hours of training in clinical supervision within the past two years or twelve hours of training in total. Supervisors must only supervise a maximum of 10 supervisees at once.
How many annual openings are there for counseling careers in Delaware?
The average openings for Delaware counseling positions vary depending on the area of specialization. According to Projections Central, educational, guidance, and career counseling and advising have the highest number of average annual openings (140) through 2030.6 Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors and rehabilitation counselors are projected to have 90 openings and 40 per year on average, respectively.6
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2021 Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211018.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2021 Marriage and Family Therapists: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211013.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2021 Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211012.htm
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2021 Rehabilitation Counselors: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211015.htm
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2021 Counselors, All Other: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211019.htm
6. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm