This blog will specifically speak to accumulating the 3,000 hours experience towards full License Professional Counseling licensure in Texas. As many of you know [or may not know], Texas ethics and licensing laws through the Behavioral Health Executive Council requires all temporary license holders to accumulate 3,000 hours of clinical and clinically related experience post graduate school and passing of the NCE: 1,500 direct hours and 1,500 indirect hours.

Your supervisor is responsible for helping you identify what type of hours belong in which category. Generally, any face-to-face/direct time spent with the identified client counts towards direct hours.  The hope is you gain “traditional experience” through face-to-face counseling within a traditional counseling setting. HOWEVER, for many associates, this is becoming more and more difficult to come by (read more about how to find a site here). Many are having difficulty securing a “traditional site” so the pursuit for direct hours is found through case management and psychoeducational-type jobs. It is important to talk with your supervisor [or future supervisor] about hours or potential employment sites to ensure they will count towards direct hour accrual (look here for must ask questions to ask your supervisor). Nothing is more frustrating than beginning a new job where you think you can gain direct hours, only to find your supervisor disagrees, or the amount of hours you thought would be accumulated is inaccurate.

For nearly 100% of all associate I have met, myself included, gaining 1,500 of indirect experience is incredibly easy. Indirect hours are all things counseling or work related that doesn’t directly involve a client. All administrative duties, phone calls, researching resources, reading books or blogs to gain clinical awareness, viewing documentaries, intake calls, preparing for future sessions, case consultations, etc. all count towards indirect accrual. Trust me, indirect hours will be the least of your worries, and likely to go well beyond the required 1,500.

Your direct hours will often need to catch up with the indirect hours. As previously mentioned, you need 3,000 total hours= 1,500 indirect and 1,500 direct. You will quickly meet 1,500 indirect hours if you count properly (you can often reach this within a year). Your direct hours, however, are likely to lag behind. While most associates are shooting for 18 months completion as indicated by the minimum amount of time through the Texas administrative Code, most are averaging closer to two years or more.

Let’s break those numbers down. If you want to complete your full 3,000 hours within 18 months, that would require you to gain a minimum of 20 direct hours per week each week for the next year and a half. No breaks, no time off for holidays, no sick time. For many, you will quickly see things like no-shows, late cancellations, difficulty booking, scheduling complications, and building caseloads can complicate this. Any week you go without reaching a full 20 hours per week will rollover beyond the 18 month mark.

Depending on what site you have, your employer, boss, or supervisor should give you a more accurate expectation of how many direct hours you will accrue each week. So if you are expected to gain something more like 15 hours per week of direct clinical experience, your estimated time of completion to upgrade to a full licensure is 24 months (1500hrs/15hrs per wk =100weeks (52 wks in a yr); average to a 50 weeks year to include time of for things like thanksgiving, Christmas or sick time= 2 yrs).

This process is a slow and steady one. It’s important you don’t lose heart. It is a journey we are all taking together or have some point taken. Most who push for an 18 month completion, find that at the end of their internship term they feel exhausted, overwhelmed, and burned out. This is no way to begin your experience as a fully licensed professional. Take the time you need, collaborate with your supervisor, and ensure you are realistic with your hours expectation.