In order to provide mental health services in the United States, you need to be appropriately licensed.  There are different mental health professions (e.g., psychology, social work, counseling, marriage and family therapy), each with their own training and licensure requirements.  In the Commonwealth of Kentucky, there are four “Boards” for the four professions:

You can get licensed by any of these four Boards by completing the educational and training requirements articulated by that Board, which are codified in various Kentucky Laws, Regulations, and Statutes.  You are encouraged to pick the mental health profession that best aligns with your career interests and values.

If you find yourself most interested in providing mental health services by drawing upon the science and practice of psychology, then pursuing licensure from the Board of Psychology might be your best fit.

In the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the Board of Psychology licenses individuals at various levels (this is not true in many states).  If you complete a doctoral level degree (PhD, PsyD, EdS) from a regionally accredited institution in specialties such as counseling, clinical, school, or industrial-organizational psychology, you can pursue licensure as a psychologist.  If you complete a master’s degree (e.g., M.S., M.A., M.Ed.) from a regionally accredited institution in specialties such as counseling, clinical, school, or industrial-organizational psychology, you can pursue licensure as a Licensed Psychological Associate (LPA).  Mental health professionals who are LPA’s can provide psychological services under the supervision of an licensed psychologist who has the health service provider designation.  After providing services under supervision for five years (i.e., 9,000 hours), an LPA’s can seek to “upgrade” their LPA license by becoming a Licensed Psychological Practitioner (LPP).  LPP’s can provide many kinds of psychological services without supervision.

Please note that LPP (a credential regulated by the Board of Psychology) is a completely separate thing from LPCC (a credential regulated by the Board of Licensed Professional Counselors).  The University of Kentucky M.S. in Counseling Psychology program does not prepare people to seek licensure as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  If you want to become a master’s level counselor in KY, you’ll need to obtain a master’s degree from a CACREP-accredited counseling program.

The University of Kentucky’s Master’s in Counseling Psychology is a two year, 48 credit hour terminal degree program that provides students with the comprehensive, foundational training specifically designed to prepare students to apply for Counseling Psychology PhD programs. While the program is not designed to prepare students to provide psychological health services in the Commonwealth of Kentucky at the master’s level, I get a lot of questions from past students about how program requirements do or don’t match up with KY licensure requirements for the LPA and LPP.

Students who complete the  University of Kentucky’s Master’s in Counseling Psychology  earn at least 48 hours of credit in courses that can count toward becoming an LPA in Kentucky.  As of 3/8/2017, the LPA course requirements are as follows.  The M.S. program courses that can satisfy each requirement are listed in parentheses next to each requirement.

  • Research Methodology (EDP 656 Research Methods)
  • Statistics (EDP 557 Stats or 558 Stats)
  • Scientific and Professional Ethics and Standards (EDP 668 Ethics)
  • Biological Bases of Behavior (PSY 627 Physio, PSY 623 Sensation, Psy 638 Dev Neuro, or 614 Compar Neuro)
  • Cognitive-Affective Bases of Behavior (EDP 614 Motivation)
  • Social Bases of Behavior (EDP 613 Social or PSY 624 Social)
  • Individual Differences (EDP 600 Human Dev)
  • Psychopathology (EDP 650 Diagnosis and Psychopathology)
  • Counseling Theories, Techniques, or Systems (EDP 652 Theories and EDP 605 Introduction to Counseling: Techniques I)
  • Theories of Career Counseling and Development (EDP 666 Career)
  • Assessment of Intellectual, Personal, Social and Vocational Functioning of the Individual (EDP 642 Personality Assessment or EDP 640 Cognitive Assessment; not offered to MS students)
  • Practicum in Counseling (EDP 664 Pre-Master’s Practicum in Counseling)
  • Practicum in Assessment (EDP 664 Pre-Master’s Practicum in Counseling; the clinical experience must involve administering and interpreting assessments; master’s level assessment-focused practicum sites are rare)

While the LPA only requires 45 graduate hours of coursework, the LPP requires 60 graduate hours in psychology and related areas.  Furthermore, the LPA requires the applicant has accrued at least 600 hours of supervised practicum/internship experience.  Most students find that it is necessary to complete one or two more semesters of practicum beyond the two required semesters of practicum in Year 2 in order to reach the 600 hour mark.  Generally, second year master’s students spend about 12/hours/week at their practicum site each semester, which amounts to 180 hours per semester.  After completing the 2 required semesters of practicum in the second year of the M.S. program, students typically have around 360 hours.  To reach the required 600, 240 more hours still need to be accrued.  In the past, when the UK counseling psych program had an EdS option in counseling psych, MS students had the opportunity to pursue the EdS after the MS to buy more time to work toward LPA requirements. A EdS student working for 16/hours/week at a practicum site for a third semester of practicum could in theory earn those 240 remaining hours (i.e., spending one additional semester in the M.S. program), though past EdS students often found it most convenient to earn their remaining hours over the course of two additional semesters (i.e., spending two additional semesters in the M.S. program, i.e., a third year).  In fact, most practicum sites prefer to hire practicum students for an entire year rather than just one semester, given the costs of training and on-boarding a new trainee to their agency and systems.  Furthermore, given that LPP requires 12 more credit hours than the standard 48 credit hour Counseling Psychology M.S. program, and certain classes are not always offered during a particular semester, EdS students often found it most practical to complete these 12 additional course credits over the course of two additional semesters in their third year. However, due to resource limitations, the EdS option was sunsetted several years ago, and our doctoral preparation-focused master’s program is not currently able to provide tailored support to students who wish to pursue career paths that do not involve going to a doctoral program as their next professional step.

Here are some key materials related to seeking licensure in the Commonwealth of Kentucky as an LPA and then LPP:

  • Application for Licensure as a Psychological Associate (LPA) – core application for LPA.  You’ll need to submit a $100 check, 3 letters of reference, and official transcripts.  You’ll need to provide information about your education, employment history, ethical/legal complaints, courses completed, and proof that you’ve accrued 600 hours of supervised clinical experience during your master’s training.  You’ll want to list your EDP 664 practicum instructor as your supervisor, as they are the licensed psychologist who was providing part of your weekly supervision (the rest was provided by your onsite supervisor, who may or may not have been a psychologist).
  • Application for Licensure as a Psychological Practitioner (LPC) – core application for LPC.  It’s similar to the LPA application, with some key differences.

Please carefully review the Forms and Documents section of the Board of Psychology webpage, as it contains other necessary licensure paperwork.  The forms and links are subject to change at any time, so it is the applicant’s responsibility to verify all information directly via the Board website.