• DrNortonTherapy.com


Updated: Nov 24, 2019

Post by Tay-Lor Anderson LMHP-R

In the helping professions, a Master's degree is necessary to obtain entry-level counseling positions. As much as I would like to tell you that getting your Masters is going to seal the deal financially and career-wise, it certainly won't. Certifications and licenses necessary in our field, and provide professionals more career options, and opportunities to make more money. Fret not, your Masters did not go in vain. You now have a leg up in the marathon. Congratulations! Now to business: the type of certifications and licenses you can pursue.

Certified Substance Abuse Counselor (CSAC)

Are you interested in working with substance abusers? If so consider a CSAC certification. On November 21, 2016, Governor McAuliffe declared Virginia’s opioid abuse crisis a Public Health Emergency. With the opioid crisis being declared, individuals dedicated to assisting those battling with addiction became more pertinent and prominent in leading the crusade of substance abuse treatment; thus we have Certified Substance Abuse Counselors.

According to the Code of Virginia, a “certified substance abuse counselor” means a person certified by the Virginia Board of Counseling to practice in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Virginia §54.1-3507.1.

If you are interested in working within the substance abuse treatment community or would like more information on the certification, all requirements to become a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor are listed in the link below:


Play Therapy

Are you interested in working with children? If so, consider a play therapy certification. Play Therapy is defined by the Association for Play Therapy (APT) as “the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained Play Therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development."

As a registered play therapist or school-based play therapist, you are provided with an opportunity to work with children and adolescents within the community and school setting. In order to acquire licensure as a play therapist, one has to complete the sequential three-phase approach which includes instructional, clinical and supervision hours between two to seven years; one must possess completion and documentation of minimum hours in play therapy instruction, clinical experience, and supervision prior to ascending to the next phase; and one must complete all phases prior to submitting an application.

Below is the link to the Association for Play Therapy for more information on the mission, program intent, sequential three-phase approach, annual fees, and program criteria overview.


Certified Sex-Offender Treatment Provider (CSOTP)

As a certified sex offender treatment provider, you have the opportunity to work with juvenile and adult offenders in the community and correctional setting, as well as contract with government entities like Probation and Parole to complete group therapy and other duties in accordance with your certification.

"Certified sex offender treatment provider" means a person who is certified to provide treatment to sex offenders and who provides such services in accordance with the provisions of §§ 54.1-2924.1, 54.1-3005, 54.1-3505, 54.1-3609, 54.1-3610, 54.1-3611, and 54.1-3705 of the Code of Virginia and the regulations promulgated pursuant to these provisions.

Below is the link to more information on acquiring your CSOTP:


National Certified Counselor (NCC)

According to NBCC, “National Certified Counselors (NCC) are board-certified counselors who offer the highest standards of practice because they have met stringent education, examination, supervision, experience, and ethical requirements. The benefits of certification include the use of the NCC certification mark, access to low-cost liability insurance, national advocacy efforts for the counseling profession and more.”

Although you are not allowed to practice as a licensed professional under this specific certification, it does provide you with counseling resources that may be beneficial to individuals like us who are just starting to navigate the professional world. Under this certification, you can also pursue other specialty certifications such as Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselors (CCMHC); National Certified School Counselors (NCSC); and Master Addictions Counselor (MAC).

Below is the link to the NBCC official website, so that you can research in-depth what each certification listed has to offer and education requirements:


Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)

According to the Virginia Board of Counseling, you must hold the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) credential in order to practice professional counseling in the Commonwealth of Virginia. I have always viewed pursuing my LPC as my avenue to get my hands into everything I am interested in. The LPC allows you to continue to gain experience within the residential, outpatient, community, corrections, and acute psychiatric services.

Also, you can explore concentrations with your LPC before you fully commit financially and career-wise to pursuing certification within a specific area such as substance use, sex offender treatment, marriage, and family, etc.


So on top of getting your Masters in Counseling and worry about residency, you now have to worry about researching what other certifications will be beneficial to you. But relax, the information may seem overwhelming and the number of hours each certification or license requires might seem never-ending, but just remember that becoming the best counselor for your clients in a marathon and not a race. Make sure that each certification and/or license you are pursuing will create longevity and variety within the field for you.

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