Last month at the American Counseling Association/Canadian Counselling Association Convention in Montréal, the American Association of State Counseling Boards announced important information regarding its licensure reciprocity plan and the credential registry.

Because licensure requirements vary from state to state, licensure portability has been an ongoing concern for licensed professional counselors who wish to practice in states other than where they were originally licensed. Currently, counselors who move out of the state in which they are licensed cannot take that credential with them. They must apply for another license in their new state of residency, which means they are faced with the hassle of digging out old school documents, supervisor evaluations and test scores to start the application process all over again.

However, AASCB is engaged in talks with 20 states to change their current licensure laws to facilitate adoption of the AASCB Group I/Group II Portability Model (formally known as “Tier I/Tier II”). The AASCB Portability Plan, combined with the service of the National Credential Registry, will make it easier for licensing boards to allow counselors to retain their license when they move. “This has the potential to be a very powerful tool to counselors, potential employers, state licensure boards and, ultimately, the public,” said AASCB Past President Jim Wilson.

The future of reciprocity lies in the hands of the state licensing boards. AASCB recognizes the many different state licensure requirements and has provided its members with two options. Eligibility requirements for Portability Plan registrants will fall into either Group I or Group II, based on AASCB members who require 48 semester hours for licensure (Group I) or 60 hours (Group II). For the complete list of Group I and Group II requirements for mandatory supervised hours and post-license experience, refer to the AASCB website at

Once states designate themselves either as a Group I or Group II state, licensed counselors who previously practiced in another state with the same group designation would no longer have to apply for a new license when they move in.

“Right now, portability is really difficult because of the wide variations and standards among the states, so we are working hard to overcome that,” said AASCB President-Elect Barry Mascari. Even though 20 states are willing to negotiate with AASCB’s plan, he explained that it would take another year for each state’s officials to approve the regulation changes. “We don’t want to mention exactly what states are working with us until the regulation has been adopted,” he said. “It’s a delicate process. We don’t want the Division of Consumer Affairs to be flooded with calls. Until the regulations are final, there are no guarantees. But the more we get on board, the more will follow.”

Charter member discount for credential registry

AASCB also used the convention Education Session on “Licensure Portability: An Update” to announce a discounted National Credential Registry charter member application for convention attendees as well as ACA members who were unable to attend.

The National Credential Registry is a service where, for a fee, counselors can house information about their education and work history. The registry is essentially a centralized, electronic filing cabinet that protects a counselor’s professional documents and educational data, including college transcripts, supervision documentation, letters of recommendation, resume and continuing education credits. When necessary, individuals may request their records from this hub location rather than contacting various relevant agencies to round up the needed information. The registry will be beneficial to students, recent graduates and licensed professionals. It will also make it more convenient when counselors want to move and take their license with them, access credentials at a later time or apply for an additional credential or certification.

The National Credential Registry’s charter member application fee of $150 is available until May 31. Effective June 1, the fee will increase to $200. Individuals who remit a $50 pre-payment now will be “locked in” to the discounted price. Applicants will have until Dec. 31 to collect and submit their National Credential Registry application and initial credential documents (counselors only need to begin the process of submitting their credentials by Dec. 31). The remaining $100 of the application fee will be due at that time. This allows counselors and students to commit to the application process now, while still having a generous amount of time to complete the application, collect documentation and save the additional $100 for the final payment.

“I like to use this illustration,” Wilson said. “An individual applied for licensure in Delaware. He was a psychotherapist, worked for child protective services (and) child advocacy, and he was a U.S. Marine. He had a master’s in counseling psychology and a doctorate in psychology. He was a member of five professional societies and had three professional certifications, including NBCC (National Board for Certified Counselors). He worked for 10 years in one organization under one supervisor. The problem was he never sought licensure in any state, and he was unable to locate his clinical supervisor. He provided the board with affidavits of diligent searches for his supervisor but couldn’t even find out if the supervisor was dead or alive. His request for the board was to consider him a special case because he could not find his supervisor, but the board had to deny him. He didn’t have a signed application by his supervisor. This is a real-life example of why counselors should enroll in the credentials bank.”

The registry houses educational data and provides assurance of licensure standards by verifying that individuals have met specific requirements relative to education, years of licensure, hours of supervision, scores on examinations and continuing education credits.

The National Credential Registry will reduce demands on AASCB Board members to obtain evidence that licensure requirements have been fulfilled by counselors. At the same time, the registry will promote national standards in credentialing. The goal is to reduce disputes, duplication of materials and waiting times for licensees who want to move from one state to another to practice. The registry will also help with portability issues between states. Any counselor — student or professional — may deposit his or her documents in the National Credential Registry. However, to become an official registrant, individuals must:

  • Hold a license from an AASCB member jurisdiction
  • Have five years post-license experience
  • Have no record of disciplinary action taken against their license
  • Qualify for one of the licensure groups of the AASCB Portability Plan

Counselors who meet these standards will receive the services of the registry, which include future portability between AASCB member states. Individuals who do not currently meet the registry standards are allowed to deposit licensure-related information with AASCB and open a credential file record in the registry.

“A lot of people are not exactly clear on the idea of the credentials bank, especially young professionals,” Mascari said. “We are encouraging faculty members and graduate programs to tell their students about the NCR because the most important time to bank (documents) is shortly after you finish your course work and internships, while everybody is still reachable. I look at my own credentials, and I know at least one of my supervisors has passed away.”

ACA Chief Professional Officer David Kaplan agreed that the National Credential Registry would be extremely beneficial and encouraged students to take advantage of the service. “Students and recent grads should register with the NCR because it takes away the anxiety of having to track down documentation for licensure in the future,” he said. “What if your supervisor retires or dies? What if the university you went to for graduate school closes and you can’t get a transcript? It does happen. What if you lose your licensure examination score? If you don’t think these things will happen between now and when you first get licensed, what about in 10, 15, 25 or 40 years when you may want to move or retire to another state and need to be licensed in your new home? The NCR gives you the peace of mind that all of your credentials and supervised experience are documented in a central location and that this information can be accessed anytime you need it for a new job or state license.”

For more information about the AASCB Portability Plan or to get a National Credential Registry charter member application, visit