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Top 11 Therapy Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top therapy certifications available to mental health professionals.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 19 min read

Certifications are important in the therapy job market because they demonstrate that a therapist has achieved a certain level of expertise and knowledge. Having certifications can help therapists stand out to potential employers and show that they have met specific requirements for advanced training or continuing education. Certifications also provide proof of a therapist's commitment to professional development, which can be attractive to employers. Finally, certifications may be necessary for some positions, as employers may require them for certain types of therapy work.

The purpose of this article is to review and explain how some of the top certifications for Therapys can contribute to a successful career in the field.

What are Therapy Certifications?

Therapy certification is a form of professional recognition that demonstrates an individual’s knowledge and experience in a specific area of mental health practice. It is usually obtained through an accredited professional organization or through a state licensing board. Certification validates an individual’s qualifications and expertise to practice as a licensed therapist in the chosen field. It also demonstrates that the therapist has met certain standards of education, training, and clinical experience, and has passed examinations to demonstrate their knowledge of the specialty.

Therapy certification can help individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in mental health by allowing them to become more competitive candidates for positions within the field. The ability to demonstrate one’s credentials through certification can be invaluable when seeking employment or promotion opportunities. Additionally, therapy certification can provide individuals with increased confidence and satisfaction when practicing as a licensed therapist due to the assurance that they have met certain qualifications for their profession. Furthermore, it may allow therapists to charge higher rates for their services due to their specialized skillset and credentials. Ultimately, therapy certification can help individuals who are looking to pursue a career in mental health by providing recognition for their hard work and dedication towards becoming qualified practitioners.

Pro Tip: Make sure to research the requirements for therapy certification in your state. Each state has different standards and regulations, so be sure to familiarize yourself with these before starting the process of getting certified.

Related: What does a Therapy do?

Top 11 Therapy Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Therapys today.

1. Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)

Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) is a type of mental health professional who provides counseling and psychotherapy services. They are trained to assess, diagnose, and treat mental health issues. LPCs typically have a master's degree in counseling or a related field and must pass an exam to become licensed.

The amount of time it takes to become an LPC varies by state. In most states, it can take up to two years of post-graduate study and supervised clinical experience before you can apply for licensure. You may also need to complete continuing education requirements each year after you become licensed.

To become an LPC, you must first obtain the necessary educational qualifications. This includes completing a master’s degree in counseling or a related field from an accredited university or college. Then, you must pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). After passing the exam, you will need to submit your application for licensure with your state board of professional counselors.

The cost of becoming an LPC varies depending on the state in which you live and the program you choose to pursue your degree from. Generally speaking, tuition costs range from $5,000-$20,000 per year depending on the program chosen and whether or not financial aid is available. Additionally, there are fees associated with applying for licensure that range from $50-$500 depending on the state board requirements.

2. Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC)

Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC) is a professional certification for mental health counselors. It is granted by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) and signifies that a counselor has met the standards of knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to practice competently as a clinical mental health counselor.

To become certified, an individual must meet certain educational and training requirements and pass the NBCC’s National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). The NCMHCE consists of 200 multiple-choice questions that assess knowledge in eight core areas: human growth and development; social and cultural foundations; helping relationships; group work; career development; assessment; diagnosis/treatment planning; and professional orientation/ethics.

The process of becoming certified typically takes between one to two years. To be eligible, applicants must have a master’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university in counseling or a related field, complete at least 48 semester hours of graduate coursework in counseling-related topics, complete 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience after graduation, and pass the NCMHCE exam.

The cost of becoming certified varies depending on the state in which you are applying. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $200-$500 to apply for certification with additional fees for taking the NCMHCE exam ($195).

3. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)

A Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) is a mental health professional who specializes in providing psychotherapy to couples, families, and individuals. LMFTs are trained to assess, diagnose, and treat mental and emotional disorders within the context of marriage and family systems. They provide counseling services such as marriage counseling, premarital counseling, couples therapy, family therapy, parenting support, individual therapy for adults and children, grief counseling, substance abuse treatment, and more.

In order to become an LMFT in the United States, you must complete a Master’s degree program in Marriage and Family Therapy or a related field from an accredited university or college. Additionally, you must also complete at least two years of supervised clinical experience under the supervision of an approved supervisor. After completing these requirements you will need to pass the national examination administered by the Association of Marital & Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB). Once you have passed this exam you will then need to apply for licensure in your state.

The cost of becoming an LMFT varies depending on where you live as each state has its own licensing requirements. Generally speaking though it can cost anywhere from $100-$1000+ depending on the specific requirements of your state. This cost covers application fees as well as any other costs associated with obtaining your license such as background checks or fingerprinting fees.

Overall it can take anywhere from two to five years to become an LMFT depending on how quickly you complete all of the required steps.

4. Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC)

A Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) is a professional who has received specialized training and certification to help individuals with disabilities achieve their maximum level of independence. CRCs work with individuals to assess their needs, develop individualized plans, coordinate services, and provide counseling and support. They also advocate for people with disabilities in the workplace, community, and other settings.

In order to become a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC), an individual must meet certain educational requirements, pass an exam administered by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC), and complete continuing education requirements every two years.

To become a CRC, an individual must first complete a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling or a related field from an accredited college or university. The program should be approved by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE). Once the degree is completed, the individual must then pass the CRCC Exam. This exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions that cover topics such as assessment techniques, counseling strategies, legal issues, ethics and professional standards.

The cost of becoming a CRC varies depending on factors such as tuition costs for schooling and fees associated with taking the exam. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $2,000-$4,000 to become certified as a CRC.

5. National Certified Counselor (NCC)

National Certified Counselor (NCC) is a professional certification in the field of mental health counseling. It is granted by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), a non-profit organization that sets standards for counselors in the United States. The NCC credential is recognized by many state boards, employers, and other organizations as an indication of professional competence and ethical practice.

In order to become an NCC, one must have at least a master’s degree in counseling or a related field from an accredited college or university, complete 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience post-graduation, and pass the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE).

The process of becoming an NCC typically takes between 1-2 years depending on how quickly you can complete all the required steps. To get started, you will need to submit your application to NBCC along with documentation verifying your educational background and supervised experience. Once your application has been approved, you can then register for the NCE exam. After passing the exam, you will be awarded your NCC credential.

The cost to become an NCC varies depending on where you live and which organization administers the NCE exam in your area. Generally speaking, it costs around $300-$400 to apply for certification with NBCC plus additional fees associated with taking the exam.

6. Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)

Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) is a professional certification in the field of behavior analysis. It is awarded by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) and requires a master’s degree or higher in behavior analysis, education, psychology, or a related field. The BCBA certification is designed to recognize individuals who have met rigorous standards of competence in the practice of applied behavior analysis.

It typically takes at least two years to complete the requirements for BCBA certification. This includes completing coursework in areas such as ethics and professional conduct, research design and methodology, assessment and intervention procedures, and more. Additionally, applicants must pass an exam administered by the BACB.

To become certified as a BCBA, you will need to first meet certain eligibility criteria set forth by the BACB. These include having a master’s degree or higher from an accredited university with coursework that meets the BACB’s standards for content and hours; completing supervised experience requirements; passing a written examination; and submitting all required documents to the BACB for review.

The cost of becoming board certified can vary depending on where you live and what type of program you choose to pursue your degree in. Generally speaking, tuition costs range from $10,000-$25,000 USD for online courses or programs that offer both online and on-site classes. Additionally, there is an application fee of $50 USD when applying for BCBA certification through the BACB website.

7. Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

A Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) is a mental health professional who has been licensed by their state to practice clinical social work. LCSWs are qualified to diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders in individuals, couples, families, and groups. They use evidence-based interventions such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), psychotherapy, and other modalities to help clients manage their symptoms and improve their overall functioning.

In order to become an LCSW, one must complete a master’s degree in social work from an accredited school of social work. After completing the degree program, applicants must then pass the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Master's Exam. This exam is administered by the ASWB and consists of 170 multiple choice questions that assess the applicant's knowledge of clinical social work practice. Once they have passed this exam, they will be eligible for licensure in their state.

The cost of becoming an LCSW varies depending on the state where one is applying for licensure. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $100-$500 for application fees and exam fees combined. Additionally, some states may require continuing education credits or additional exams before one can become fully licensed.

In total, it usually takes about two years to become an LCSW after completing a master’s degree in social work—one year for coursework and another year for studying for the ASWB Master's Exam and applying for licensure.

8. Certified Play Therapist (CPT)

Certified Play Therapist (CPT) is a professional designation that recognizes an individual’s expertise in the use of play therapy to help children, adolescents, and adults. It is awarded by the Association for Play Therapy (APT), which is an international organization dedicated to promoting the understanding and use of play therapy.

To become a Certified Play Therapist, an individual must complete a minimum of 600 hours of supervised clinical experience in play therapy with children and/or adolescents, as well as meet additional requirements such as taking approved courses in play therapy theory and techniques. The process typically takes two to three years to complete.

In addition, applicants must pass a comprehensive written examination administered by APT. The exam covers topics such as child development, ethical considerations, assessment strategies, therapeutic interventions, and research related to play therapy.

The cost of becoming a Certified Play Therapist varies depending on the specific requirements needed for certification. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $2,000-$4,000 USD for all necessary application fees and training courses.

9. Registered Art Therapist (ATR-BC)

Registered Art Therapist (ATR-BC) is a professional credential granted by the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB). It is the highest level of certification for art therapists in the United States and Canada. To become an ATR-BC, one must have completed a master’s degree in art therapy from an ATCB-approved program, have at least two years of post-graduate supervised clinical experience, and pass the ATCB’s national exam.

The process to become an ATR-BC usually takes about two to three years. The first step is to complete a master's degree in art therapy from an ATCB-approved program. Once this is completed, applicants must complete at least two years of post-graduate supervised clinical experience in order to be eligible to take the ATCB exam.

Once all requirements are met, applicants can apply to take the national exam through the ATCB website. The cost of taking the exam is $200 USD. After passing the exam, applicants will be granted their ATR-BC credential and may use it professionally as an art therapist in both the United States and Canada.

10. Licensed Creative Arts Therapist (LCAT)

A Licensed Creative Arts Therapist (LCAT) is a mental health professional who has been trained in the use of creative arts therapies to treat and support individuals, couples, families, and groups. Creative arts therapies are a form of psychotherapy that uses art, music, dance/movement, drama, poetry/writing, and other creative mediums to help people express themselves and gain insight into their feelings.

It can take anywhere from two to six years to become an LCAT depending on the individual's educational background. Most states require applicants to have at least a master's degree in counseling or social work with a specialization in creative arts therapies. In addition to education requirements, applicants must also complete supervised clinical hours as well as pass a licensing exam.

The cost for becoming an LCAT varies by state but typically includes application fees for the licensing board as well as any required exams. Additionally, there may be costs associated with obtaining the necessary educational requirements such as tuition for courses or programs.

Once licensed, LCATs must stay up-to-date on licensure renewal requirements which may include continuing education credits or additional clinical hours.

11. Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (DCSW).

Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (DCSW) is a post-master's credential that recognizes advanced practice and expertise in clinical social work. It is granted by the American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work (ABE). The DCSW is a voluntary credential for licensed clinical social workers who have met the eligibility requirements, including passing an examination and completing continuing education requirements.

To be eligible to take the DCSW exam, applicants must hold a master's degree in social work from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), have at least three years of post-master's supervised clinical experience, and hold a current license or certification as a clinical social worker from their state or jurisdiction.

The DCSW exam consists of two parts: Part I covers knowledge and skills related to professional practice, while Part II covers knowledge and skills related to clinical practice. The exam is administered twice each year, usually in April and October. It takes about five hours to complete both parts of the exam.

The cost for taking the DCSW exam varies depending on when you register for it. Typically, it costs between $500-$600 for both parts of the exam. Once you pass both parts of the exam, there is an additional fee for receiving your certificate and becoming an official Diplomate in Clinical Social Work. This fee typically ranges from $150-$200.

Overall, becoming a Diplomate in Clinical Social Work can take anywhere from six months to one year depending on when you register for the exam and how quickly you are able to complete all of the required steps.

Do You Really Need a Therapy Certificate?

In today’s world, a therapy certificate is becoming more and more important for those who wish to pursue a career in the field. It is an indication of one’s knowledge and experience of the therapeutic process, as well as their commitment to helping others. A certificate can help you stand out from other applicants when applying for jobs, and it may even provide additional recognition or recognition within the profession.

However, it is important to understand that having a therapy certificate does not guarantee success. Many employers require additional qualifications or experience before hiring someone for a position. Additionally, there are many different types of certificates available depending on your specific area of study and expertise. Therefore, it is important to research what kind of certification would best suit your particular needs before making a decision about whether or not to pursue one.

There are also other factors to consider when deciding if you need a therapy certificate. First and foremost, do you have the necessary skills and experience? If you are just starting out in the field, then it may not be necessary for you to obtain a formal certification yet; however, if you have already been working in the field for some time then obtaining such a certification could be beneficial in helping you get ahead in your chosen profession. Additionally, if you plan on taking any specialized courses related to therapy then having a certificate will give you an edge over other applicants who may not have taken such courses. Finally, having a certification could also make it easier for potential employers to verify your credentials since they can look up the organization that issued your certificate if they want further information about your qualifications or experience.

Overall, whether or not you need a therapy certificate depends on many factors including your experience level and desired career goals. Therefore, it is important to think carefully about these factors before making any decisions about pursuing such certification so that you can make an informed decision that best suits your individual needs and goals.

Related: Therapy Resume Examples

FAQs About Therapy Certifications

Q1. What is a therapy certification?

A1. A therapy certification is an official document that demonstrates a professional has met the educational, experience, and/or competency requirements in a particular area of therapeutic practice. This type of credential is often required by employers when hiring professionals in the field of psychology, counseling, social work, or other mental health-related fields.

Q2. How do I obtain a therapy certification?

A2. The process for obtaining a therapy certification varies depending on the organization offering the credential and the specific profession you are pursuing. Generally speaking, you will need to complete an accredited program in your chosen field as well as pass any examinations or assessments required for that particular certification.

Q3. How long does it take to get a therapy certification?

A3. The amount of time it takes to obtain a therapy certification depends on several factors including the type of program you are enrolled in and how much time you can dedicate to studying and completing coursework or exams related to your desired credential. In some cases, it may take up to two years or more to complete all necessary steps for obtaining a certified therapist status from certain organizations.

Q4. Are there any prerequisites for becoming certified in therapy?

A4. Yes, most organizations require applicants to have certain levels of education and/or clinical experience in order to be eligible for their credentials. Additionally, many organizations have additional requirements such as passing an exam or having letters of recommendation from qualified professionals before they will grant certification status to applicants.

Q5. Is there any continuing education required after obtaining my therapy certification?

A5. Yes, many organizations require certified therapists to participate in ongoing education activities such as attending conferences or workshops in order to maintain their credentials over time.