Obtaining your license to be a certified counselor is no easy task. If you realized in high school or college that this was your career goal, you planned your course of study, taking challenging classes and looking for opportunities to increase your skills and experience. You then completed your graduate work, including field experience with a trained counselor. You sought professional endorsements and prepared for your exam.

The only thing left is to qualify for the ethical requirements the National Board for Certified Counselors sets forth. Because of the delicate nature of the work counselors do and the high level of trust your clients will place in you, the NBCC has rigid rules related to the behavior of counselors. If you are seeking certification or renewal of your certification, you should understand the challenges you may face, especially if your past is not perfect.

Overcoming the roadblocks

The NBCC requires you to disclose anything in your life that may disqualify you from eligibility for a counselor’s certification, especially convictions or guilty pleas for criminal matters. Some offenses may automatically remove you from eligibility for certification or renewal of your certification, for example:

  • Violent crimes, such as domestic abuse, murder, communicating threats of harm or assault
  • Child abuse, elder abuse or abuse of someone who has mental or physical disabilities
  • Theft, arson or other crimes involving the damage of property
  • Fraud, forgery and other crimes of deception
  • Sex crimes
  • Hate crimes, kidnapping, human trafficking or other crimes of intimidation or unlawful restraint
  • Drug crimes, including distributing, manufacturing and possession of certain schedules of drugs
  • Repeat DUI or other forms of impaired driving
  • Legal action against you related to your counseling practice
  • Disciplinary action against you from a professional organization or government agency
  • Termination from employment or from your counseling degree program because of your conduct

With the disclosure or discovery of any of these, the board will likely reject your application for certification unless a significant amount of time has lapsed since you completed your penalties for the offense and you can demonstrate you have rehabilitated in the meantime. Persuading the board to reconsider your application after the disclosure of one of the above-listed offenses may be a challenge, and you would do well to seek as much support as you can from those who are ready to help you meet your goals.