Popular Accredited LMHC Programs and Schools in Florida [2024 Guide]

Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) programs in Florida provide the essential training and qualifications needed for individuals aiming to pursue a career in mental health counseling. The LMHC credential opens doors to various career opportunities within the mental health sector in Florida.

LMHC programs typically include a combination of coursework and extensive hands-on clinical practice, ensuring that graduates are well-prepared to tackle the diverse challenges presented in mental health care settings.

This article explores some of the popular LMHC programs available in Florida, highlighting their unique features and how they cater to the needs of aspiring mental health professionals.

Best Accredited LMHC Programs and Schools in Florida Online

LMHC Programs in Florida

Listed below are some of the popular schools offering LMHC programs in Florida:

  • Florida State University
  • University of North Florida
  • Hodges University
  • Nova Southeastern University
  • Keiser University
  • University of South Florida
  • Capella University
  • Grand Canyon University

Florida State University

Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program

In the Florida State Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, you will go through five full semesters that include coursework, practical training, and an internship. Once you complete the 60 credit hour program, you will receive both a Master of Science (M.S.) and an Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) degree.

The program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), and upon graduating, you will qualify for licensure as an LMHC in Florida and other states.

The focus of the program is on working with individuals who have a variety of mental health issues. Additionally, you will learn about prevention, early intervention, and promoting wellness among generally healthy populations. Some of the courses that you will take include:

  • Introduction to Counseling Theories and Techniques
  • Foundations of Mental Health Counseling
  • Substance Abuse and Addictions Counseling
  • Adult Development and Psychopathology
  • Group Counseling: Theory and Practice
  • Assessment in Counseling and Rehabilitation
  • Life-Span Human Development
  • Theories and Fundamentals of Family Therapy
  • Consultation and Organizational Development

Throughout the program, you will work in several different environments. The Clinical Mental Health Counseling program has partnered with various organizations, providing you with opportunities to gain practical experience in settings such as independent practices, community agencies, managed behavioral health care organizations, hospitals, military settings, hospice care, employee assistance programs, student counseling centers, prisons, and substance abuse centers.

In your first year, you will participate in a practicum. This part of your training is designed to help you apply your knowledge, skills, and professional values in real community settings. It offers you a chance to combine theoretical knowledge with practical experience. This experience is beneficial for both the students and the placement sites; you provide your labor in exchange for valuable on-the-job training and experience. This setup helps you develop professionally, integrate knowledge and skills, and build up your professional competence and identity. The interactions and responsibilities you encounter during your placements will also enhance your understanding and commitment to the counseling profession.

You will complete your practicum hours at community mental health agencies in or near the Tallahassee area. You will meet with your faculty supervisor or clinical coordinator at least one semester before your practicum to discuss the requirements and expectations. You will be informed about the available practicum sites and will receive an orientation on how to start your clinical practice.

The requirements for your practicum include a minimum of 100 clock hours, with at least 40 of those hours involving direct service with clients over a full academic term to enhance your counseling skills. You will receive at least one hour of individual or triadic supervision each week from a qualified site supervisor, along with 1.5 hours of group supervision each week provided by a program faculty member.

You will also need to develop program-appropriate audio/video recordings for use in supervision or live supervision of your interactions with clients. Your performance will be evaluated and you will receive feedback throughout your practicum. Some agencies may cover these costs, while others might require you to pay.

Following the practicum, you will start your internship. The internship requirements include a minimum of 600 clock hours, with at least 240 of those hours being direct service with clients over two full academic terms. The supervision and evaluation structure is similar to that of the practicum.

To be eligible for admission to the program, you must have:

  • A bachelor’s degree with at least a 3.0 GPA from a regionally accredited institution.
  • GRE test scores, although this requirement is waived through Fall 2026.
  • For international students, a language proficiency test score from one of the accepted exams.
  • Official transcripts from each institution you have attended.
  • A personal statement no longer than three pages, outlining your reasons for pursuing this degree, your qualifications, and your long-term career goals.
  • Three letters of recommendation from individuals who can assess your potential success in the program.
  • A resume or curriculum vitae.
  • Unofficial transcripts from all colleges attended.

University of North Florida

Master of Science – Clinical Mental Health Counseling

The University of North Florida’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program (CMHC) is a 60-credit hour, full-time program that fulfills the educational requirements for licensure in Florida as an LMHC. This program is focused on practical application, requiring you to complete 1,000 hours of field-based experience before graduation.

The curriculum provides a mix of courses designed to equip you with the skills and knowledge needed to be an effective counseling professional. Some of the courses that you will take include:

  • Group Counseling
  • Advanced Counseling
  • Counseling Diverse Populations
  • Addictions Counseling
  • Clinical Counseling Skills
  • Introduction to Family Counseling
  • Theories in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Human Development Across the Lifespan
  • Legal, Ethical, and Professional Issues in Counseling

The curriculum allows you to explore various foundational aspects of behavior, practice psychotherapeutic and diagnostic skills, and engage in extensive field experiences to apply your learning in professional settings. The CMHC operates on a cohort model with two groups of 24 students each, enrolled annually.

During your first year, you will complete 100 hours dedicated to Professional Identity Development, which are volunteer hours in the mental health field aimed at enhancing your professional identity. In your second year, you will undertake 900 hours of Practicum/Internship hours at one of over 30 community partner sites, including private practices, community non-profits, hospitals, and schools, with 320 of these hours being direct counseling service with clients.

The CMHC program aims to prepare graduates who:

  • Establish a professional identity in mental health counseling.
  • Gain specialized knowledge and experience in managing diverse couple and family issues.
  • Acquire specific skills for mental health service delivery in particular settings or with specific groups.
  • Understand general theories of human behavior, development, and relationships, and the contextual influences on these.
  • Learn treatment modalities suitable for a wide range of mental health scenarios.
  • Respect and understand the impact of culture, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic class on mental health and have experience working with diverse groups.
  • Communicate effectively with various mental health professionals.
  • Provide competent professional services and leadership in the mental health field upon graduation.

More specifically, the program prepares you to:

  • Provide direct counseling services to individuals, groups, and families.
  • Help clients make informed decisions and develop self-determination.
  • Offer resources, referrals, and information to help clients manage societal, economic, and other challenges.
  • Act as role models and mentors.
  • Advocate for clients’ rights through community, state, and national organizations.
  • Lead community agency efforts to improve mental health services.

Admission requirements for the program include:

  • Transcripts from an accredited U.S. institution or its international equivalent for bachelor’s and master’s degrees, if applicable, and for any post-baccalaureate or graduate credits.
  • A resume, not exceeding two pages;
  • A letter of intent, not exceeding two pages, detailing your reasons for applying, and your educational, research, and professional goals;
  • Two recommendation forms, preferably including one from a university faculty member, who will fill out a rating form and may also submit a letter;
  • A personal interview for top candidates, with contact initiated directly by the CMHC program for those selected.

A $30 application fee is required. This fee is non-refundable and must be paid prior to the review of your application.

Hodges University

Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Hodges University offers a 60-credit online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree that’s designed just for you. If you are aiming to start a career in mental health or substance abuse counseling, this could be your first step. Once you are through, you will also be able to get licensed as a Mental Health Counselor.

Some of the core courses that you will take include:

  • Counseling in Community Setting: You will explore the world of community counseling. You will learn its history, the current trends, and even get to know about counseling in different settings.
  • Social & Cultural Foundations of Counseling Practice: This course will teach you how to be sensitive to the needs of clients from different backgrounds and cultures.
  • Career & Lifestyle Assessment This course will teach you how, by exploring career theories and ways to assess someone’s job interests.
  • Group Counseling: Groups can be a powerful way to help people. In this course you will learn the theories behind group counseling, and how to lead a group effectively, no matter the age or background of the members.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment of Psychopathology: Here you will learn how mental disorders are categorized and the best ways to treat them. You will also learn to think critically to pinpoint a diagnosis and consider the most effective treatments.
  • Advanced Addiction Treatment Methodologies: You will learn about the latest ways to help people overcome addictions. From understanding motivations to using cognitive therapies, you will be equipped to help those battling substance abuse.
  • Trauma Therapy: This course will teach you the ins and outs of trauma treatment and how to respond during disasters. You will able able to support those who have been through traumatic experiences
  • Group Therapy: In this course you will learn about creating a trusting environment, setting group rules, and understanding how group dynamics can help healing.

All classes will be online, but you will still have interactive sessions. For about 6-8 hours, you will meet with your classmates and instructor over Zoom. There, you will discuss concepts, see presentations, and more.

During the program, you will have to join 4 weekend residency sessions. These will be spread out over fall and spring. It’s a full weekend from Friday to Sunday morning. This is where you will get hands-on practice and dive deep into core counseling techniques.

You will also be involved in real-world practice. There’s a 155-hour practicum where you will directly care for clients for 40 hours. After that, you will do two internships totaling 300 hours, with 120 hours directly interacting with clients. Expect to commit about 20 hours a week for these internships. Plus, during this time, you will be supervised for 45 hours per session.

To apply, ensure you have a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. You will need to send in your official college transcripts to show your degree. Sometimes, there might be an essay or interview as part of the admission process. Once everything is ready, fill out the application for the program.

Nova Southeastern University

Online M.S. in Counseling – Clinical Mental Health Counseling Concentration

You can enroll in the CACREP accredited Master of Science (M.S.) in Counseling with Clinical Mental Health Counseling concentration at Nova Southeastern University. This program is available in both online and in-person formats. You can enroll on a full-time or part-time basis.

To earn your M.S. in Counseling at Nova Southeastern University, you will complete 33 graduate semester hours, alongside the Clinical Mental Health Counseling focus. In total, you are looking at completing 60 credits.

This program equips you to:

  • Guide people through challenges like stress, self-worth, aging, career dilemmas, educational choices, emotional hurdles, trauma, family disputes, and marital issues.
  • Uplift diverse individuals and groups, helping them aim for mental wellness, healing, relationship growth, academic objectives, or career milestones.
  • Work seamlessly with a team of professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, and school counselors.

Some of the core Clinical Mental Health Counseling concentration courses that you will take include:

  • The Foundations of Counseling: You will dive deep into psychotherapy, exploring renowned theories and practices that shape the world of mental health counseling.
  • Human Growth: You will understand how growth and societal learning influence people throughout their lives.
  • Counseling Ethics: You will grasp the legalities and ethics that guide counseling practices.
  • Assessment Techniques: You will learn about the common tools used to gauge aptitude, interests, and personality.
  • Understanding Substance Abuse: In this course you will explore the origins, treatment, and counseling methods for substance-related issues.
  • Diversity in Counseling: Here you will explore how different cultural and social factors shape the counseling process.
  • Community Mental Health: In this course you will understand the principles driving community-focused mental health initiatives.
  • Advanced Counseling Techniques: In this course you will equip yourself with progressive strategies and techniques for counseling.

By completing the M.S in Counseling with a focus on Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Nova Southeastern University, you will satisfy the educational requirements to become a LMHC in Florida. Additionally, this program will set you on the right track to achieve the National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors.

You will need complete all courses for the degree with a GPA of at least 3.0, including satisfactory completion of practicum and internship.

To apply, ensure you:

  • Hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited college. Submit official transcripts from any schools you have attended.
  • Have a background in psychology, education, behavioral science, social work, or something similar. If not, showcase your capability or passion for counseling through relevant experiences.
  • Achieved a GPA of at least 2.5 in your last 60 undergrad semester hours, or held a 3.0 GPA in a master’s program. Alternatively, score at least 300 combined on the verbal and quantitative GRE sections taken within the last five years.
  • Be prepared, as you might be invited for an interview as part of the admission process.

Kesier University

Online Master’s in Mental Health Counseling

Keiser’s online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is tailored for busy individuals like you. This program aims to fully equip you to become a professional counselor, ready to work in various settings like private clinics or rehab centers.

Here’s what you should expect:

  • Real-World Experience: Along with regular classes, you will get a chance to apply what you have learned by getting hands-on field experience under expert guidance.
  • Aligned with Licensure Standards: The program is structured to match national standards, ensuring you are well-prepared for licensure.
  • Holistic Development: As you journey through the program, you will:
    • Learn about the history and ethics of counseling.
    • Understand diverse societal and cultural backgrounds to cater to a wide range of clients.
    • Gain insights into human growth, development, and wellness across ages.
    • Learn the art of career counseling and relevant evaluations.
    • Perfect your counseling techniques for individual and group settings.
    • Sharpen your critical thinking for diagnosis, research methods, and program assessments.
  • Interactive Learning: Every week, you will attend live classes that last between 1.5 to 3 hours. Plus, you will have access to personal tutoring, role-play sessions, and constant communication with peers and faculty via emails, texts, or calls. The professors are always around to help you out during their office hours.
  • Diverse Coursework: The subjects you will study will cover everything from diagnosing to referring clients, all based on evidence-backed treatments.
  • Program Mission: Keiser aims to produce top-notch counselors with a strong ethical foundation and unmatched professional skills, prepping them for an independent practice.
  • Wide-Ranging Career Paths: After completing the program, you will be eligible for counseling licensure in clinical mental health. This opens doors to roles in areas like substance abuse counseling, crisis intervention, and more.
  • Community Building: There’s a residency requirement in this program. This means you will be spending a weekend, three times during your course, mingling with fellow students. These gatherings strengthen community ties and enrich your learning.
  • Practical Training: The program includes practicum and internships. This is where you will integrate all your learnings and skills under expert supervision.
  • Admission Requirements: You will need a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a relevant field like psychology or human development from an accredited college.

How Long Does It Take to Become an LMHC in Florida?

To become an LMHC in Florida, the process generally takes about 8 to 10 years. This includes earning a bachelor’s degree (typically 4 years), followed by a master’s degree in counseling or a related field (usually 2 to 3 years), and then completing the required hours of supervised clinical experience, which can take an additional 2 years.

Additionally, you must pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) and apply for licensure through the Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling.

How Much Does an LMHC Make in Florida?

As of April 2024, the average salary for an LMHC in Florida is $77,709 per year. More experienced LMHCs working in Florida make well over $100,000 per year.

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