Webmaster’s comments:You have graduated with a masters or doctorate in mental health counseling, Marriage and Family, or Social Work. Now if you if you want to start your own business and see clients in private practice, you must first find a WA. State Approved supervisor and together, apply to the Washington State Health Department for an Associate’s License. Then you will need to perform a total of 3,000 hours of supervised counseling and then apply for full licensure in your chosen category. This needs to be completed within 6 years.
New graduates can also apply for work at licensed mental health agencies and be employed as an “Agency Affiliated Counselor.” (see "Application forms (and more) for each of the various license classifications" below.)
In case you prefer to be a self-employed counselor (start your own private practice), I am reproducing the “Licensed Associate” regulations below [source Revised Code of Washington. (RCW) 18.225.145].
(1) The secretary shall issue an associate license to any applicant who demonstrates to the satisfaction of the secretary that the applicant meets the following requirements for the applicant's practice area and submits a declaration that the applicant is working toward full licensure in that category:
(a) Licensed social worker associate—advanced or licensed social worker associate—independent clinical: Graduation from a master's degree or doctoral degree educational program in social work accredited by the council on social work education and approved by the secretary based upon nationally recognized standards.
(b) Licensed mental health counselor associate: Graduation from a master's degree or doctoral degree educational program in mental health counseling or a related discipline from a college or university approved by the secretary based upon nationally recognized standards.
(c) Licensed marriage and family therapist associate: Graduation from a master's degree or doctoral degree educational program in marriage and family therapy or graduation from an educational program in an allied field equivalent to a master's degree or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy approved by the secretary based upon nationally recognized standards.
(2) Associates may not provide independent social work, mental health counseling, or marriage and family therapy for a fee, monetary or otherwise. Associates must work under the supervision of an approved supervisor. (See list of approved suprvisors.)
(3) Associates shall provide each client or patient, during the first professional contact, with a disclosure form according to RCW 18.225.100, disclosing that he or she is an associate under the supervision of an approved supervisor.
(4) The department shall adopt by rule what constitutes adequate proof of compliance with the requirements of this section.
(5) Applicants are subject to the denial of a license or issuance of a conditional license for the reasons set forth in chapter 18.130 RCW.
(6) An associate license may be renewed no more than six times, provided that the applicant for renewal has successfully completed eighteen hours of continuing education in the preceding year. Beginning with the second renewal, at least six of the continuing education hours in the preceding two years must be in professional ethics.
Per the Washington State Department of Health, in December 2018 the following chart showcases the current number of Counselors in Washington State by license:
|Profession||Active Status Counts||Pending Status Counts|
|Marriage & Family Therapist Associate license||572||43|
|Marriage & Family Therapist license||1726||125|
|Mental Health Counselor Associate license||2045||167|
|Mental Health Counselor license||7223||271|
|Social Workers Associates Advanced license||239||31|
|Social Workers Associate Independent Clinical license||1929||117|
|Social Workers Independent Clinical license||4448||542|
(a) Licensed social work classifications:
(i) Licensed advanced social worker (and)
The Washington State Department of Health has rolled out an online application for initial mental health counselor and associate credentials. Check out the features of the online application portal on YouTube. Information about how to access the online application for mental health counselors and mental health counselor associates is located on the Department’s website.