Accredited Online Clinical Mental Health Counseling Programs in Georgia [2024]

Online clinical mental health counseling programs in Georgia offer a flexible and accessible path to obtain your professional counselor credential. These programs are designed to meet the rigorous standards set by the state for licensure.

In an online mental health counseling program, you will have the opportunity to learn from experienced professionals through virtual classrooms. You will engage in studies that cover a broad range of topics from psychotherapy techniques to ethical practices in counseling. Online programs are also ideal if you find it hard to balance work and family commitments.

You can use this guide – which features some of the popular schools offering online clinical mental health counseling degrees in Georgia – to help narrow your focus and find the school that’s the best fit for your needs.

Best Accredited Online Clinical Mental Health Counseling Programs in Georgia

Online Clinical Mental Health Counseling Programs in Georgia

Listed below are some of the popular schools offering online clinical mental health counseling programs in Georgia:

  • Piedmont University
  • Thomas University
  • Liberty University
  • LaGrange College
  • Grand Canyon University
  • Walden University
  • Capella University

Piedmont University

Online Master of Arts – Clinical & Mental Health Counseling

At Piedmont University, you can pursue a Master of Arts (MA) in Clinical & Mental Health Counseling through a fully online program that comprises 60 semester credit hours, including 9 hours of supervised field experience for your practicum and internship. Faculty and staff will guide you in collaborating with an approved clinical site for these hands-on experiences.

This degree equips you for a broad range of roles in community agencies, businesses, and institutions, meeting the academic requirements to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Georgia. Designed with practitioner-oriented education and extensive clinical instruction, Piedmont’s program also prioritizes flexibility, allowing you to balance your studies with work, family, and life commitments. You can complete the degree in 2.5 years, which includes 7 semesters at 9 credit hours each semester.

The program leverages innovative online learning strategies to foster an inclusive community, connecting you with instructors, peers, and professionals through live interactions such as Zoom office hours, student cyber cafes, and sessions with guest licensed counselors.

Your coursework will cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • Theories of Counseling: Focuses on the practical application of counseling theories and techniques, especially with diverse populations.
  • Family Systems: Explores family and developmental theories across diverse family systems.
  • Group Counseling and Group Work: Addresses the development and effectiveness of group counseling.
  • Lifespan Development: Explores at human development stages and their implications for counseling.
  • Professional Foundations of Counseling: Provides an orientation to the counseling profession, covering its foundations and ethical/legal issues.
  • Psychopathology and Diagnosis: Teaches the diagnostic process, including the use of DSM and ICD.
  • Addictions and Substance Use Counseling: Focuses on the theory, diagnosis, and treatment of addictions.

Your Practicum will involves a one-term supervised experience in counseling at a facility that offers psychological counseling services. You will work with a diverse range of clients all under the careful supervision of both the site and the university. You will need to record your client sessions and show that you have completed at least 100 clinical hours at this location.

Following your practicum, you will engage in a Counseling Internship that spans two semesters at a site providing psychological counseling services. This part of your training is geared towards putting theoretical knowledge into practice and honing your counseling skills under the guidance of supervisors from both the site and the university.

Through this internship, you will have the chance to apply your skills by working with clients from various ethnic and demographic backgrounds in your community. It is mandatory for you to record these counseling sessions and verify that you have accumulated a minimum of 300 clinical hours at the internship site.

Graduating from Piedmont with an MA in Clinical & Mental Health Counseling prepares you for diverse positions in the field and fulfills the academic requirements for LPC licensure in Georgia and National Certified Counselor certification.

Admission requirements include:

  • A Bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
  • Waiver for the GRE.
  • Submission of official transcripts from all attended post-secondary institutions.
  • Two professional references, ideally including one from an academic source.
  • A comprehensive Statement of Intent and a current resume.
  • A background check by your second semester.
  • Participation in a virtual interview to assess your fit with the program and profession.

Thomas University

Master of Science in Counseling

At Thomas University, you have the opportunity to enroll in a Master of Science in Counseling (MSC) program that is designed to produce highly skilled counselors, dedicated to advocating for and serving those in need within your community. This program is delivered entirely online and offers you the choice of four specialization tracks:

  1. Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  2. Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling
  3. Addictions Counseling
  4. Professional School Counseling

This program is accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling.

Your instructors will be doctoral level professors who bring a wealth of experience and credentials from the field. The program prides itself on maintaining a small class size with a faculty-to-student ratio of 1:12 for core curriculum classes and a 1:6 ratio for fieldwork supervision. This setting ensures you receive personalized attention, enhancing your ability to engage with both peers and professors in deep exploration of content, which is crucial for developing the interpersonal skills necessary for effective counseling.

This 60-credit hour program is designed to thoroughly prepare you for professional practice through comprehensive didactic training and clinical fieldwork, which you can complete locally. The curriculum includes 45 credit hours of foundational coursework that covers all licensure requirements, plus an additional 15 credit hours tailored to your specialization. If you opt for more than one specialization, you must complete the coursework and clinical hours required for each.

For the Clinical Mental Health Counseling specialization, you will need to complete the following additional courses:

  1. Psychosocial & Multicultural Aspects
  2. The Helping Professional: Case Management & Community Resources
  3. Abnormal Behavior
  4. Marriage & Family Counseling
  5. Human Sexuality
  6. Psychopharmacology

You will be educated in a curriculum that meets the CACREP standards for accreditation and aligns with state licensure requirements, enabling you to become a professional counselor across all states. After completing 75% of the coursework, you become eligible to sit for the National Certified Counselor (NCC) and Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) exams. However, you should verify that you have met your state’s specific licensure requirements before graduating.

Thomas University facilitates collaboration with various agencies and organizations to offer you internships and fieldwork experiences. These opportunities are invaluable for gaining the practical experience necessary to transition from student to professional.

The MSC program aims to develop counselors who are not only competent in a wide range of knowledge and skills, such as theoretical foundations, ethical standards, case management, and cultural awareness, but also prepared to address the needs of individuals with disabilities and chronic illnesses in a manner that promotes advocacy and awareness.

Furthermore, the program emphasizes the importance of legal and ethical counseling practices, developing a personal counseling style, and understanding research’s role in advancing the counseling profession.

Admissions are open three times a year, before the Spring, Summer, and Fall semesters. To apply, you will need to submit:

  • An online application form.
  • A resume.
  • A Statement of Purpose that outlines your personal and professional goals (no longer than two pages).
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • Official transcripts from institutions where you have earned your degrees.

Liberty University

Online Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

At Liberty University, you can enroll in the CACREP-accredited 60-credit online Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree, designed to provide you with the specialized training essential for acquiring state licensure and becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).

As an LPC, you will be a licensed mental health professional trained to support individuals, families, and groups in addressing mental health and behavioral concerns. This online degree will enhance your understanding of human psychology through proven techniques and teach you the best practices for improving the mental health and overall wellness of clients across various communities.

The program is structured in mostly 8-week sections, allowing you to complete most of your degree from the comfort of your home. Moreover, you can fulfill your field experience requirements locally. At Liberty University’s, you can complete your clinical counseling program in roughly 2.5 years, including the necessary internship and practicum requirements for hands-on experience critical for pursuing licensure.

The foundational courses of the program are designed to cover core topics in human behavior, training you in ethical and legal counseling issues, multicultural counseling, counseling theories, and other significant areas for evidence-based best practices. The program meets the advanced counseling content areas required for private practice licensure as a clinical counselor.

This master’s degree in mental health counseling prepares you to be an ethical, well-trained mental health counselor, equipped with the knowledge, values, and skills to empower others towards positive life changes. By engaging in rigorous academic courses, dynamic interactions with mentors and faculty, and a structured practicum and internship process, you will be all set for professional counseling practice.

Through the practicum and internship requirements, you will gain invaluable real-world experience under professional counselor supervision. This real-world experience will exposes you to practical insights beyond textbook knowledge or lectures.

For the practicum, you need 100 hours of field experience, including 40 direct client hours and 60 hours for related activities like literature review, case note creation and examination, and treatment plan development. The practicum should be completed near the end of your online mental health degree but before starting the internship. To register for the practicum, you must complete all prerequisites and maintain at least a 3.0 GPA.

The internship involves 600 total hours of field experience, typically spread over two semesters. Unlike the practicum, the internship includes group supervision, although group supervision is recommended for the practicum when possible.

Liberty’s online Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling equips you with the training, knowledge, and experience to become a professional counselor. With a counseling licensure and an LPC degree accredited by CACREP, your expertise will be recognized as meeting high standards.

The program also guides you through the state licensure-required areas of knowledge and practice, enabling you to pursue regulated counseling positions in private, public, and nonprofit settings. After completing Liberty’s counseling degree online and fulfilling state licensure prerequisites, you may start your private counseling practice.

As an LPC, you could work in hospitals, inpatient mental health facilities, mental health agencies, or private practices. Additional licensure may open opportunities as school counselors, addiction counselors, marriage and family therapists, among other roles.

Admission to this program requires a bachelor’s degree, accredited regionally or nationally, with a cumulative GPA of 2.7 or higher. Applicants must submit:

  • An admission application.
  • Application fee.
  • Two letters of recommendation.
  • A personal statement.
  • Official college transcripts. Unofficial transcripts may be accepted temporarily with a completed official transcript request form.

LaGrange College

Online Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

LaGrange College’s MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree offers an online pathway that accommodates your lifestyle by allowing you to choose between synchronous (live online classes) and asynchronous (flexible schedule for coursework) learning formats. This flexibility is particularly beneficial if you are balancing a current job or family commitments.

The program, spanning 60 credits, holds accreditation from CACREP and can be completed in as little as two years. With its full accreditation, the program ensures you engage in comprehensive coursework, research, and field experiences, laying the groundwork for licensure as a clinical mental health counselor after graduation.

Throughout the program, you will explore a variety of courses designed to equip you with a comprehensive skill set necessary for professional counseling. Key courses include:

  • Foundations of Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Group Dynamics
  • Crisis, Trauma, and Grief Counseling
  • Addictions Counseling
  • Principles of Management, Consultation, Collaboration, and Advocacy

Accreditation by CACREP mandates the inclusion of field experiences in the curriculum. To meet this requirement, LaGrange College integrates multiple practica and internships, offering varied opportunities for fieldwork that seamlessly fit into your schedule. Additionally, the program opens doors to professional growth through research, training, and participation in conferences.

The program also encourages a focus on specific counseling challenges, including community service, social justice, and mental health research, with additional emphasis on family counseling, career counseling, and multicultural counseling.

Applications to LaGrange College’s program can be submitted online anytime. Admission criteria include holding an undergraduate degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5. The application process requires you to provide:

  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended.
  • Three professional references.
  • A two-page essay detailing your motivation for a career in counseling.

Furthermore, you must undergo a background check and have a clear history regarding license or certification revocations to be considered for admission.

What is the Difference Between APC and LPC in Georgia?

In Georgia, the terms Associate Professional Counselor (APC) and Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) refer to two distinct levels of licensure for counseling professionals, reflecting differences in experience and qualifications.

  1. Associate Professional Counselor (APC): This is a provisional licensure for individuals who have completed their educational requirements, including a master’s degree in counseling or a closely related field, but have not yet fulfilled the full clinical experience required for full licensure as an LPC. APCs are required to work under the supervision of a fully licensed LPC or another qualified mental health professional. This level of licensure allows new graduates to gain the necessary supervised experience to qualify for full licensure.
  2. Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC): This is a full professional licensure for individuals who have met all the requirements set by the state of Georgia, including the completion of a master’s degree in counseling or a related field, passing a national counseling examination (such as the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification or NCE), and completing a specified number of post-graduate supervised clinical hours (typically several thousand hours). LPCs are qualified to practice independently in the state of Georgia and can provide a wide range of mental health services, including diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders, counseling, and psychotherapy.

The transition from APC to LPC in Georgia requires the completion of the required supervised experience, submission of documentation verifying this experience, and often, passing an additional jurisprudence examination specific to Georgia’s laws and ethical standards for professional practice.

How Many Hours Do You Need for LPC in Georgia?

In Georgia, to become an LPC, you are required to complete a minimum of 3,000 hours of post-master’s directed experience in professional counseling under supervision. These hours must include:

  • At least 1,500 hours of direct client contact. Direct client contact refers to actual face-to-face (which can include tele-mental health) interactions with clients where counseling services are provided.
  • The remaining hours can be accrued through indirect services related to client care (such as case management, record keeping, and professional development) and direct client contact beyond the minimum 1,500 hours.

Additionally, these 3,000 hours must be completed over a minimum period of two years and under the supervision of a qualified supervisor. The supervision must include a minimum of one hour of individual supervision per week, or two hours of group supervision can count as one hour of individual supervision, with a total of at least 120 hours of supervision over the course of accruing the 3,000 hours.

How Much Does an LPC Get Paid in Georgia?

As of February 2024, the average annual salary for an LPC in Georgia is $70,000. More experienced LPCs in Georgia earn well over $120,000 per year.

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