California Counselor License Exam

NCE - LPC Practice Test

To get licensed in California, Professional Counselors are required to take an exam covering such subjects as assessment and diagnosis, counseling and psychotherapy, and administration, supervision and consultation. Whether you live in  Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, or another city or county, the resources below will help you get started on the path to receive your Professional Counselor’s license.

Need of a License: A license is needed to work as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) in California. Licenses are granted by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences.

To qualify to become a licensed professional counselor in California, the following must be met:

  • Obtain a graduate degree in counseling from an accredited school meeting credit limits.
  • Meet supervised clinical experience requirements of 3,000 hours of post-graduate professional counseling, and 104 weeks (two years) of supervision, including at least one hour of individual supervision per week, or two hours of group supervision per week in 52 of those 104 weeks. A maximum of 40 work hours per week is credited. The 3,000 hours is subdivided as follows:
    • 1750 hours direct counseling experience
    • Individual psychotherapy (no minimum or maximum hour requirement).
    • 500 hours group therapy maximum
    • 250 hours Telephone counseling maximum
    • 1250 hours maximum non-counseling, e.g., psychometric testing administration and evaluation (Maximum 250 hours) and workshops, trainings and conferences, (Maximum 250 hours).
    • 150 hours must be obtained in an inpatient setting or community mental health clinic.
  • An applicant must earn a passing score on the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE).
  • An applicant must pass the California Law and Ethics Examination.

How to Apply for Licensure

An application for licensure and other documentation can be obtained online. All documents must be sent to:

Board of Behavioral Sciences
1625 N Market Blvd., Suite S-200
Sacramento, CA 95834

1- (916) 574-7830

The Test Content of the NCMHCE

The test format comprises of 12 to 14 case studies. Each case study is followed by 10 multiple-choice questions, divided into counseling phases: the intake and assessment phase, the first follow-up counseling session, and the second follow-up counseling session. Candidates will have one hour and 45 minutes to complete the exam.

Six different counseling domains will be addressed throughout these case simulations, to include:

  • Intake, Assessment, and Diagnosis
  • Treatment Planning
  • Counseling Skills and Interventions
  • Professional Practice and Ethics
  • Core Counseling Attributes
  • Areas of Clinical Focus, which is the given information provided in each case study

For more information, see the NCMHCE Candidate Handbook.

How to Apply to Take the Exam

Apply online to take the NCMHCE.

Content of the California Law and Ethics Examination:

The content of the exam is not described. Applicants will receive further information, including the location of the exam sites, when their completed application is submitted and approved.

License Renewal and Continuing Education Requirements

To renew a license, regulations require 36 clock hours of continuing education in acceptable courses and programs offered by approved Continuing Education providers. This includes a one-time only seven hour course in HIV/AIDS which must be completed in the first two year licensure renewal period.

For more information on licensing and exam prep, go to's NCE Guide.

And take's free NCE Practice Test.

For counseling exam preparation products and services, such as study guides, practice tests, flashcards and courses, go to's NCE listings.