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:
- Board of Psychology
- Board of Social Work
- Board of Licensed Professional Counselors
- Board of Licensure for Marriage and Family Therapists
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, 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.
Students who complete the University of Kentucky M.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. See the M.S. Program of Study document for a list of what classes can be taken which semesters.
- Research Methodology (EDP 656 Research Methods; taken during Semester 4)
- Statistics (EDP 557 Stats or 558 Stats; taken during Semester 1)
- Scientific and Professional Ethics and Standards (EDP 668 Ethics; taken during Semester 2)
- Biological Bases of Behavior (PSY 627 Physio, PSY 623 Sensation, Psy 638 Dev Neuro, or 614 Compar Neuro; taken during Semester 2 or 4)
- Cognitive-Affective Bases of Behavior (EDP 614 Motivation; taken during Semester 3)
- Social Bases of Behavior (EDP 613 Social or PSY 624 Social; taken during Semester 2)
- Individual Differences (EDP 600 Human Dev; taken during Semester 1)
- Psychopathology (EDP 650 Diagnosis and Psychopathology; taken during Semester 1)
- Counseling Theories, Techniques, or Systems (EDP 652 Theories [taken during Semester 2] and EDP 605 Introduction to Counseling: Techniques I [taken during Semester 1])
- Theories of Career Counseling and Development (EDP 666 Career; taken during Semester 2 or 4)
- Assessment of Intellectual, Personal, Social and Vocational Functioning of the Individual (EDP 642 Personality Assessment or EDP 640 Cognitive Assessment; taken sometime after Semester 2 with permission of the faculty*)
- Practicum in Counseling (EDP 664 Pre-Master’s Practicum in Counseling; taken during Semesters 3 and 4 or Semesters 5 and 6*)
- Practicum in Assessment (EDP 664 Pre-Master’s Practicum in Counseling; the clinical experience must involve administering and interpreting assessments; taken during Semesters 3 and 4 or Semesters 5 and 6*)
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. A student working for 16/hours/week at a practicum site for a third semester of practicum can earn those 240 remaining hours (i.e., spending one additional semester in the M.S. program), though students often find 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, students often find it most practical to complete these 12 additional course credits over the course of two additional semesters in their third year.
Those students who wish to pursue their doctorate (PhD, PsyD, or EdS) instead of the LPA/LPP are encouraged to complete the standard 4-semester, 2-year, 48 credit hour University of Kentucky Counseling Psychology M.S. degree. This allows for a smoother transition from a 2 year master’s into the typical 5-to-6 year doctoral degree.
For students who are NOT looking to matriculate directly into a doctoral program but ARE interested in pursuing licensure as an LPA (and perhaps later an LPP), we recommend but do not require (A) completing 12 additional hours of relevant coursework and (B) completing one or two additional semesters of practicum training in their third year in order to reach 600 hours of supervised practicum/internship experience, before graduating from the University of Kentucky Counseling Psychology M.S. program. Those students interested in the LPA could graduate from the M.S. program after completing the required core 4 semesters, but will likely find it advantageous to remain in the program longer to give themselves time to complete the requirements of the LPA. Graduating from the M.S. program and thereafter taking classes and engaging in practica as a non-degree student may not be seen as acceptable by the Kentucky Board of Psychology. Students are encouraged to dialogue with the Board if they are interested in going this non-degree route.
Here are some key materials related to seeking licensure in the Commonwealth of Kentucky as an LPA and then LPP:
- Application for Licensure (LPA) – core application for LPA and LPP
- Curriculum Guidelines for Licensure as a Psychological Associate (LPA) – educational requirements to be eligible to apply for the LPA
- Curriculum Guidelines for Licensure as a Psychological Practitioner (LPP) – educational requirements to be eligible to apply for the LPP after spending 5 years practicing full-time as an LPA
- Information for Applicants for Licensure as a Psychological Associate (LPA) – information about what materials need to be included in your application for the LPA (e.g., fees, forms, letters of recommendation, transcripts, temporary licensure request)
- Information for Applicants for Licensure as a Psychological Practitioner (LPP)- information about what materials need to be included in your application for the LPP
Please carefully review the entire Applications and Forms webpage for the Board of Psychology, 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. Click here to go back to the Counseling Psychology M.S. webpage.
*Note: The LPA licensure requirements state that students must complete one “Practicum in Counseling” and complete one “Practicum in Assessment” as a graduate student. It does not matter when each of these types of Practicum are completed. Students interested in the LPA can complete their Practicum in Counseling during Semesters 3 and 4, and then complete their Practicum in Assessment during Semester 5 (and also Semester 6, typically). Students can do the reverse too. It doesn’t matter which combination you choose, as long as at least one semester is spent providing counseling services at your practicum site and at least one semester is spent providing assessment services at your practicum site. Importantly, you can provide both counseling and assessment at your site at a given time, but in order for a given practicum course to count toward the Practicum in Assessment requirement, a substantial portion of the clinical service hours you accrue must be focused on assessment. Generally, counseling-focused practicum sites are easier to find, whereas assessment-focused practicum sites are less common. Thus, students should be intentional in how they plan their practicum sequence so that they can ensure they get experience at an assessment-focused practicum site before pursuing the LPA. Our faculty Practicum Coordinator helps students with finding and applying for practicum. The Board will require students to prove that one of their EDP 664 Pre-Master’s Practicum in Counseling 3-credit one-semester courses counts as a “Practicum in Assessment” by providing, in their LPA application, “documentation of psychological assessment, including specific test instruments” associated with that practicum experience. This is necessary because the practicum course title used in our program (“EDP 664 Pre-Master’s Practicum in Counseling”) does not include the word “assessment” in the course title. Practicum sites that could qualify a student to list their practicum experience there as a “Practicum in Assessment” include but are not limited to the Graham Career Center, Stuckert Career Center, and Center on Trauma and Children. These sites all involve assessment of one kind or another (e.g., vocational/career, psychological). Students interested in pursuing licensure as an LPA after their time in the UK MS program should work closely with their faculty adviser at the start of their time in the program to create a plan for how they can fulfill the Assessment course and the Practicum in Assessment course requirements of the LPA, as these requirements are not automatically fulfilled by doing the standard MS program. Most MS students (who are looking to pursue a doctorate after the MS program) will not take an Assessment course or do a Practicum in Assessment by default, so those MS students who are interested in the LPA route must plan in advance with their faculty adviser. For example, the Assessment course is offered every other year, so you must know in advance whether you will need to take the Assessment course during your 2nd year or during your 3rd year.