Counsel for counselors: Get new credentials by July 1 or stop practicing

Many counselors haven’t applied for credentials in one of the new professions. Registered counselors work in many settings and have a broad scope of practice. They work in government and private agencies, including alcohol and substance abuse treatment facilities. Registered counselors may also have private practices, and all of them will have to meet the new standards.

“As of April 12, we received 5,321 out of a possible 12,000 applications,” said Assistant Secretary Karen Jensen. “We’re concerned that some people practicing as counselors won’t get their new credential on time to continue working with their patients and clients. If applications are received after April, there may not be time to review them before the registered counselor credential is abolished.”

Applications are processed in the order they arrive. Processing times vary based on the number of applications received and individual circumstances. Counselors should keep that in mind when applying for a new credential. The large number of applications expected may result in delays. Counselors should allow 10 to 12 weeks for processing.

The eight professions that require new credentials are agency-affiliated counselor, certified counselor, certified adviser, chemical dependency professional trainee, mental health counselor associate, marriage and family therapist associate, social work associate advanced, and social work associate independent clinical.

Information about counseling professions in Washington is available on the Department of Health’s Web site.