Indiana Counseling License Requirements
Indiana has 15,600 individuals working as professional counselors, with many employed as substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors.1-5 If the idea of helping others with challenging mental health, social, behavioral, and relational issues excites you, pursuing counseling licensure in Indiana may be a great career option for you. This guide outlines how to obtain the main type of Indiana counseling license, Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), as well as other common types. You will find the road to licensure can be long, but can ultimately lead to a rewarding career with good projected job prospects in the coming years.
Table of Contents
- How to Become a Counselor in Indiana
- Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) Licensing Process
- Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Indiana
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
- School Counselor
- Licensed Clinical Addictions Counselor (LCAC)
- Other Professional Counseling Careers
- Indiana Counseling Career and Salary Information
- Counseling Associations in Indiana
- Frequently Asked Questions
How to Become a Counselor in Indiana
Indiana requires professional counselors in all major types of practice to be highly educated and appropriately licensed. Many schools in Indiana offer counseling programs designed specifically to meet the state’s licensing requirements. Most types of Indiana counseling licensure require a graduate degree and passing exam scores on national exams. If you already hold a license in another state and are looking to practice in Indiana, visit our Counseling License Reciprocity Guide.
1. Choose which area of counseling to pursue.
There are many types of professional counseling, including mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, school counseling, substance abuse counseling, and more. You may want to research these types to discover which one may be the best fit for you. See our careers page for more information on each.
2. Complete the degree(s) required for your chosen area of practice.
Most professional counselors will have a master’s degree as it is generally required by the licensing body before they can begin to accrue work experience. Mental health counselors must have a graduate degree in counseling, mental health, social work, or a related area. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs) must have a master’s degree in counseling with significant content in marriage and family therapy skills. School counselors in Indiana must complete a state-approved graduate school counseling program. Substance abuse counselor backgrounds may vary but Licensed Clinical Addictions Counselors (LCACs) must have a master’s degree as well.
3. Get licensed to practice counseling in Indiana.
Unlike some other states, one board issues many of the different licenses available to professional counselors in Indiana. However, each type of licensure has a different process so ensure you apply using the correct forms to avoid delays. The Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board (the Board) issues licenses for mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, and substance abuse counselors. The Indiana Department of Education (DOE) issues school counseling licenses as part of school services.
Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) Licensing Process
Mental health counselors in Indiana must be licensed through the Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board (the Board). Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHCs) help clients to identify and resolve personal, social, emotional, and interpersonal concerns through the use of counseling, psychotherapeutic, and diagnostic techniques. If you would like to learn more about a career as a professional counselor, read our mental health counselor career guide. In Indiana, a master’s or doctoral degree in an area related to mental health counseling from a regionally-accredited school is required. The program must include a supervised practicum, internship, or field experience in a counseling setting that includes at least 700 clock hours, 100 of which are practicum hours and 600 of which are internship hours, with at least 66 hours of face-to-face supervision.
1. Apply for Licensed Mental Health Counselor Associate (LMHCA) licensure and permission to test.
An associate license is required to accrue supervised experience. You can submit an application through the Access Indiana portal or by paper, and the application fee is $50 (as of November 2022). Included in the application are Form P-Verification of Practicum and Form I-Verification of Internship. A criminal background check (CBC) will be required after you submit your application package to the Board, but before your license is issued. In-state applicants can visit an IdentoGO location to obtain a CBC whereas out-of-state applicants can use the mail-in process. Once all documentation has been approved, you will receive an exam approval from the Board and must take it within one year of initial Board approval.
2. Pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE).
The NCMHCE is administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). The exam must be taken within one year of application otherwise a new application package must be sent to the Board. The NBCC provides an exam content outline to help you prepare.
3. Accrue supervised experience.
Next, you must complete at least 3,000 hours of post-graduate supervised work experience and receive 100 hours of face-to-face clinical supervision over a two-year period. If you have completed a doctoral degree, this may reduce the required work hours for licensure. Supervision must be gained under an approved counselor educator or licensed counseling professional, such as an LMHC, psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, or clinical mental health nurse. No more than 1,500 hours can be applied towards the required postgraduate work experience before you pass the national exam, so you should take this into account when scheduling your exam.
4. Apply for LMHC licensure.
LMHC applications are available online and have an application fee of $50 (as of November 2022). If you hold an LMHCA in Indiana, you will only need to resubmit Forms C, P, I, and transcripts as the Board requests them. At this stage, you can also apply for a temporary permit ($25 as of November 2022), which allows you to work as an LMHC until the results of your exam are received.
5. Receive your LMHC license.
You will receive an email notification from the Board when your license is approved. The email will contain a printable version of your license and instructions to order an optional official copy. You must display either the printed or official version of your license.
LMHC Licensure by Reciprocity in Indiana
Indiana does not have formal reciprocity agreements with other states for LMHC licensure, but it does consider reciprocity applications from applicants who are licensed in other states and meet specific requirements. Reciprocity applicants must submit the application form, verification of licensure, passing scores from the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE), and a criminal background check to be eligible for licensure by reciprocity. Individuals licensed in other states who have not taken the NCMHCE are not eligible for licensure by reciprocity and must apply using the steps above. As of November 2022, the application fee is $50.
Counselor License Renewal and Continuing Education Information
An LMHC license is valid for two years, from April 1 to March 31 of even-numbered years, and then it must be renewed. The renewal fee is $50 (as of November 2022). Licensees must complete 40 continuing education (CE) credits or clock hours to renew. Two hours of ethics are required during each renewal cycle. At least half of the CE must be completed through approved CE providers, and a maximum of 20 hours can be completed through self-directed study methods. Records of CE completion must be kept for four years in case they are requested by the Board. More information about approved CE activities and providers can be found on the Board website.
Additional Counseling Careers and Licenses in Indiana
Each type of professional counseling has a different education pathway and licensure process. While prospective mental health counselors can follow the steps above, below you will find the processes for other major types of counseling: licensed marriage and family therapists, school counselors, and substance abuse counselors.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
The Indiana Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board (the Board) also licenses marriage and family therapists (LMFTs) in the state. The application package is available online and the application fee is $50 (as of November 2022). A master’s degree in marriage and family therapy or a related field is the minimum educational requirement. The degree must include credits in 11 core counseling areas as well as credits in professional ethics and assessment of disorders and dysfunctions. The program must also include a supervised practicum of at least 500 hours in a marriage and family counseling setting. LMFTs in Indiana use family systems and psychotherapy techniques to help individuals, couples, and families improve communication, problem-solving skills, and interpersonal relationships. Follow these steps to earn your LMFT license:
- Apply to be a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate (LMFTA), including a criminal background check, and permission to test.
- Earn 1,000 hours of supervised experience over the course of two years.
- Take the Marital and Family Therapy National Examination from the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB) and the jurisprudence examination.
- Apply for an LMFT license.
- Receive confirmation of your LMFT license via email.
To learn more about marriage and family therapists and what they do, visit our LMFT career guide.
School counselors work with students from pre-K to twelfth grade and are expected to be knowledgeable in a range of counseling techniques, including individual counseling, crisis counseling, and career counseling. School counseling licenses are issued through the Indiana Department of Education (DOE) as part of the school services division. No classroom teaching experience is required but applicants do need to complete a master’s degree and a state-approved school counseling program. Follow these steps to earn school counseling licensure in Indiana:
- Apply for an Initial Practitioner license.
- Take and pass the Praxis school counseling exam.
- Complete CPR/Heimlich maneuver certification and suicide prevention training.
- Receive your initial license.
- To convert your initial license to an Accomplished Practitioner’s license, earn five years of experience as a school counselor; complete an educational specialist or higher degree in counseling or a related field; be recommended for the license by the licensing advisor of your program; and successfully complete certification in school counseling from a Board-approved program.
- Apply for and receive an Accomplished Practitioner’s license.
More about these career pathways can be found on our school counseling career guide.
Licensed Clinical Addiction Counselor (LCAC)
The Behavioral Health and Human Services Board (the Board) is responsible for Indiana counseling licensure for both licensed clinical addiction counselor associates (LCACAs) and licensed clinical addiction counselors (LCACs). LCACAs and LCACs provide specialized services to clients with substance abuse challenges. These services may include using clinical instruments and assessments, developing individual addiction treatment plans, using psychotherapy techniques to treat addiction and addictive behaviors, and engaging in private practice. A master’s degree in addiction-focused education including a 700-hour practicum (with 280 hours of face-to-face client contact and 35 supervision hours) is required. For applicants with bachelor’s degrees in addiction counseling or related area, the Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC) is available, along with the related Licensed Addiction Counselor Associate (LACA) credential. To qualify, the bachelor’s degree must include a supervised practicum, internship, or field experience in an addiction counseling setting with the applicant performing 350 hours of addiction counseling services. The general steps to becoming an addiction counselor in Indiana are:
- Apply for the addiction counselor license of your choice, including a criminal background check and permission to test.
- Take the required exam for the level you are applying for (LACAs/LACs: International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC) exam or the NAADAC National Certified Addiction Counselor, Level II (NCAC II) exam; or LCACAs/LCACs: IC&RC Advanced Alcohol & Drug Counselors (AADC) exam or the NAADAC Master Addiction Counselor (MAC) exam.
- Earn two years of supervised experience (for LACs and LCACs only).
- Receive confirmation of your addiction counselor license via email.
Optional Substance Abuse Counseling Credentials Offered in Indiana
In addition to the official licenses offered by the Behavioral Health and Human Services Board (the Board) described above, the Indiana Counselors Association on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (ICAADA) offers numerous voluntary credentials for substance abuse professionals in the state to enhance their knowledge and skills. While these will not qualify you to provide substance abuse counseling services, adding on one or more of these credentials may increase your hiring potential and/or job possibilities. They include:
- Certified Addiction and Drug Abuse Consultant
- ICAADA Certified Peer Addiction Peer Recovery Coach
- ICAADA Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS)
Read more about substance abuse counselors and what they do on our substance abuse counseling career guide.
Other Professional Counseling Careers
Professional counseling is a broad field with many subdisciplines that involve working with diverse clients and mental health issues. Some other counseling careers you can pursue with your counseling degree include:
- Rehabilitation Counselor
- Gambling Counselor
- Genetic Counselor
- Youth Counselor
- Guidance Counselor
- Pastoral Counselor
- Recreational Therapist
Indiana Counseling Career and Salary Information
In Indiana, 15,600 individuals work in the main counseling fields with the highest number working as substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (7,430).1-5 Those in the “counselors, all other” field earn the highest average salary ($61,690), followed by educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors ($52,770) and marriage and family therapists ($52,340).2,3,5 The metropolitan area of Chicago-Naperville-Eglin, IL-IN-WI, which is partly located in Indiana, has the second highest level of employment for educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors; fifth highest for both substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors as well as marriage and family therapists; sixth highest for counselors, all other; and seventh highest for rehabilitation counselors.1-5
According to Projections Central, marriage and family therapists are projected to experience growth above national averages through 2030 (18.1% compared to 16/3%).6 Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors are projected to experience the fastest growth of any other counseling category (21.4%) as well as the highest number of new positions during this time (1,500), followed by educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors (540) and marriage and family therapists (210).6
|Occupation||Number Employed1-5||Average Annual Salary1-5|
|Counselors, All Other||660||$61,690|
|Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors and Advisors||5,060||$52,770|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||1020||$52,340|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||7,430||$48,760|
Counseling Associations in Indiana
- Indiana Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (IAMFT): Provides continuing education, networking, and advocacy for MFTs working in Indiana.
- Indiana Counseling Association (ICA): An organization that connects those with an Indiana counseling license through a range of networking, training, and conference opportunities.
- Indiana Counselors Association on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (ICAADA): A training organization that provides additional credentialing, certification, and training opportunities for substance abuse counselors working in Indiana.
- Indiana School Counselor Association (ISCA): A professional development organization committed to advancing the profession through training and networking opportunities.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of degree should I complete to become a mental health counselor in Indiana?
To earn LMHC licensure, the Board requires at least a master’s or doctoral degree that includes 60 semester hours of graduate coursework in counseling. The graduate coursework must include the following content areas: human growth and development; social and cultural foundations of counseling; the helping relationship; group dynamics, processes, counseling, and consultation; lifestyle and career development; assessment and appraisal of individuals; research and program evaluation; professional orientation and ethics; foundations of mental health counseling; contextual dimensions of mental health counseling; knowledge and skills for the practice of mental health counseling and psychotherapy; and, at least a 700 clock hour supervised clinical practicum, internship, or field experience in a counseling setting.
What are the continuing education (CE) requirements for professional counselors in Indiana?
LMHCs, LMFTs, and LCACs have the same CE requirements for license renewal. Licensees must complete 40 hours of CE with at least 20 hours of Category I activities and one hour of ethics training during each year of the two-year renewal period. Category I activities are defined as formal education or training programs. A list of approved Category I CE providers and approved activity examples are provided by the Board. Category II encompasses self-study activities and may not account for more than half of the required CE hours in each renewal period.
Can I complete my counseling degree online or part-time in Indiana?
Yes, many institutions offer counseling courses or even full counseling degrees online or on a part-time basis. The Board accepts online and part-time degrees as long as they meet the general education requirements. If you plan to complete an online degree based in another state, you should ensure you can complete the required practicum hours in a location that is convenient for you.
What is the difference between the Licensed Addictions Counselor (LAC) and Licensed Clinical Addictions Counselor (LCAC) licenses?
While LACs and LCACs both provide substance abuse counseling services, there are many significant differences between these two types of licensure. The minimum requirement for an LAC license is a bachelor’s degree in addiction counseling, while LCACs are required to have a master’s degree. LCACs also have additional training that allows them to provide clinical services, work in private practice, and earn supervision abilities. LACs do not have these privileges.
Where can I find a job as a counselor in Indiana?
Indiana’s professional counselors work in all areas of the state. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metropolitan area ranks highly for counselor employment in a number of areas.1-5 It is second in the country for educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors (11,290), fifth in the country for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors (7,810) as well as marriage and family therapists (2,080), and sixth for counselors, all other (660).1-3,5
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