About NYMHCA and FAQs


NYMHCA is the professional organization for all mental health counselors, students, and counselor educators who want to or who currently work clinically, regardless of work setting or area of specialization.  Other mental health professionals whose education and  training are comparable to that of clinical counselors are also very welcome!

NYMHCA is the professional organization that represents the interests of practicing mental health counselors, and students in New York State.

NYMHCA was founded in 1979 as a state chapter of American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA).  2019 is our 40th year advocating for mental health counselors in New York!

NYMHCA was largely responsible for the passing of a bill that licensed mental health counselors in 2002! NYMHCA then worked with the State Education Department’s Office of Professions to develop regulations governing the practice of our profession before the first licenses were issued in 2005.

NYMHCA promoted the passage of legislation that extended the time of limited permits from 3 years to 4 years in response to the need of new graduates for extra time to find jobs and complete their 3,000 hour post-graduate experience.

NYMHCA worked to pass legislation that gave LMHCs a continuing education requirement for licensure renewal. The requirement makes mental health counselors more competitive in the mental health services marketplace. It also demonstrates our commitment as professionals to regularly add to our skills as practitioners.

NYMHCA employs 2 lobbyists who represent NYMHCA and the profession’s interests in Albany.

NYMHCA continues our work to build working relationships with legislators and state agencies that will assist us in passing legislation vital to our profession.

We will not stop until LMHCs are authorized to diagnose!

We will not stop until LMHCs have private Medicaid numbers!

We will not stop until all insurance companies accept LMHCs as providers!

We will not stop until LMHCs have Civil Service titles, have certificates that will allow us to work in schools, and can be hired to work in Early Intervention programs!

We will not stop until LMHCs are known and accepted throughout the state as qualified providers!

NYMHCA needs YOU! Every member counts, and the greater the number of members we have the louder our voice in Albany. 

Join NYMHCA so we can continue our work to help you have the most rewarding professional career you can imagine for yourself!

There shall be no discrimination against any individual on the basis of ethnic group, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age and/or disability!

What services does NYMHCA provide for counselors?

NYMHCA currently provides the following services to members:

  - The NYMHCA Quarterly  Newsletter 

  - The Counselor Educator Newsletter

  - Legislative initiatives including advocacy for the profession with legislators, governmental agencies, and national and state 
     professional organizations

  - The employment of two Albany lobbyists to help promote the profession in Albany and to advance NYMHCA's legislative 

  - The NYMHCA Members' Corner Facebook page which provides continuous up-to-date information on our advocacy efforts, 
     organization info and other information pertinent to the profession

  - 10 Regional Chapters so counselors can come together to network, and continue their professional education

  - The development of working relationships, including our Partner Program, with counselor education programs, their faculty 
     and students.

  - Our Find a Counselor online directory so counselors can promote their services to consumers

  - Our Find a Supervisor online directory so counselors can enhance their clinical skills after completion of their graduate 

  - A statewide convention offered every other April in Albany

  - A meeting for Counselor Educators held every other April in Albany



What is the name of the Regulatory Board for LMHCs?

Our regulatory board is called the Mental Health Practitioners Board.  

Who is licensed under the Article 163 licensure law?

There are 4 professions.  They are: Mental Health Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists, Psychoanalysts, and Creative Arts Therapists.  Due to the wording under the mental health counselor part of the law, Rehabilitation Counselors can be licensed to practice their profession but with the license title of Mental Health Counselor.

What are the educational and experiential requirements of the licensure law?

Mental health counselors need a Master's degree of at least 60 graduate hours to be licensable.  Counselors also need at least 3000 hours of post-Master's supervised experience in order to be licensed.  Fifteen hundred of those hours need to be direct client contact hours.

What does the law allow counselors to do?

Under the law, counselors are authorized to assess, evaluate, develop treatment plans and treat clients. Clients can be individuals, couples, families or groups.  We are allowed to use the DSM and other diagnostic criteria as well as assessment instruments.  

What exam is the state using to test counselors for this license?

Since the license is for counselors who work in clinical settings the exam is the Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam (NCMHCE).  

NYMHCA offers individual, small and large group examination preparation training for the exam.  Webinars are also provided.  Check the Licensure Examination Workshop page on this website for more information.

What are the educational requirements to be licensed?

The educational requirements in our licensure law are at least 60 hours of graduate education that include:
 - Human growth and development
 - Social and cultural foundations of counseling
 - Counseling theory and practice and psychopathology
 - Group dynamics
 - Lifestyle and career development
 - assessment and appraisal of individuals, couples, and families and groups
 - Research and program evaluation
 - Professional orientation and ethics
 - Foundations of mental health counseling and consultation
 - Clinical instruction and a minimum of 1 year supervised internship or practicum in   
    mental health counseling

*This is a general outline and it is to be expected that many grad programs will have variations on each of these courses. 

How can I get a licensure application?

  - Go to the Office of Professions website and download an application:  www.op.nysed.gov/mhpcontact.htm#lic

 How do I apply for a limited permit while I accrue my 3,000 hours?

Please read through the entire application packet.  It includes the application for the limited permit.  You must send in your licensure application minus the limited permit application a few months before you have graduated with your Master's or doctoral degree.  Once the state has approved your education, you are then eligible for a limited permit.  As soon as you obtain employment you must immediately send in your limited permit application for approval by the state.  The clock will start on your permit on the day your permit it issued.

Is my limited permit renewable?

Your limited permit is for 2 years and is renewable for two additional years. 

How do I count my hours of experience?

Counselors are allowed to count all of the time required in the counseling of clients (1500 hours at least). They can also count the time for note-taking, scheduling sessions and other tasks related to the therapeutic process.  No hours accrued during your internship or work done before you received a graduate degree and your limited permit can count toward licensure.  You can use hours accrued in a volunteer (unpaid) position as long as you are being supervised by a licensed mental health professional.  You cannot work in your own private practice and receive outside supervision in order to qualify for licensure.  You CAN work for someone else's private practice and receive supervision from them.

Who can supervise me as I accrue my hours?

Counselors can be supervised by: psychiatrists, Ph.D psychologists, psychiatric nurses, and licensed clinical social workers, in addition to licensed mental health counselors.  LMSW's are not considered fully licensed since they must work under the supervision of LCSW's and therefore are not qualified to supervise mental health counselors.  You cannot receive supervision from Marriage and Family Therapists, Psychoanalysts and Creative Arts Therapists.

When I receive my license will I be able to admit clients to a hospital?

Our licenses do not include hospital privileges at this time.

How often do I have to renew my license?  Do I have to have continuing education hours in order to maintain and renew my license?  

Your license will require renewal every 3 years.  The state will notify you when the renewal is coming due.  There is a continuing education requirement of 36 contact hours (CEU's) for every 3-year license renewal period

What is the difference between a license and a national certification?

Licenses are offered by a state government and a national credential (NCC, ACS, CRC) is offered by national professional credentialling bodies.  The national counselor exam is used in some states as a licensure exam, but in New York we have the clinical mental health counselor exam as our licensure exam.

I understand that in our licensure law it says that we have to refer clients to a physician if we believe them to have serious mental illnesses.  Do they need to be referred to a psychiatrist?  What if the client refuses to go?  

The standards of practice and code of ethics for mental health counselors include the need for referral for an evaluation when serious physical or mental illness is suspected.  The client can be referred to either a physician or a psychiatrist depending upon the presenting problem.  If the client refuses it is required that we end the treatment process until such time as they comply.  You should inform your clients about this legal requirement when they begin the counseling process with you.

Our law does not include the word "diagnosis" but does include the synonyms:  assess, evaluate, identify disorders and test.  It also says we can use diagnostic criteria such as the DSM as approved by the State Education Department. 

LMHC's who want to use diagnostic testing need to have been adequately trained to do so.  If you are unsure if you have the expertise to use diagnostic tests, go to:  http://aac.ncat.edu/resources.html and scroll down to where it says "Key Documents."  There you will find the standard for our profession for testing expertise.

Will my license allow me to be eligible to receive 3rd party remimbursements from insurance companies?

At this writing almost all of the major insurers doing business in New York State accept LMHC's into their networks.  NYMHCA is working to gain acceptance into the networks of those companies that still don't accept us.

Will LMHC's be considered qualified providers for Medicaid?

Mental health counselors are Medicaid reimbursable when working in state agencies.  NYMHCA is working on getting LMHC's private Medcaid numbers so those in private practice can work with Medicaid clients.

I am a certified school counselor.  Can I be licensed as a mental health counselor?  Can I use my experience as a school counselor toward licensure?

School counselors can be eligible for licensure but will need to take additional courses as a matriculated student in a mental health counselor Master's program.  They would also need to take an additional internship in a clinical setting.  A clinical setting is one where clients are diagnosed and treated.  It is also a setting where a licensed mental health professional is providing on-site supervision.  

When I receive my license should I register with national registries in order to enhance my acceptance onto provider panels?

All counselors wishing to be providers for insurance companies will need to have a national provider number to be in compliance with HIPAA.  To obtain that number (once you are licensed) go to: www.nppes.cms.hhs.gov, and apply online.  It takes about a day to get the number.

If you are thinking about moving to or practicing in a different state in addition to being accepted onto provider panels, go to the CAQH.org website and register with them too.  The CAQH is a registry established by national insurance companies so they can share information about providers.  This too can inrcease the liklihood that you will be accepted on provider panels.  Unfortunately you must be accepted by at least one insurance company as a provider and have a CAQH# before you can apply to the CAQH registry.

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