Virginia Regulatory Town Hall

Emergency Text


Implementation of the Counseling Compact
Stage: Emergency/NOIRA
18VAC115-20-10 Definitions

A. The following words and terms when used in this chapter shall have the meaning ascribed to them in § 54.1-3500 of the Code of Virginia:



"Professional counselor"

B. The following words and terms when used in this chapter shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Ancillary counseling services" means activities such as case management, recordkeeping, referral, and coordination of services.

"Applicant" means any individual who has submitted an official application and paid the application fee for licensure as a professional counselor.

"CACREP" means the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

"Candidate for licensure" means a person who has satisfactorily completed all educational and experience requirements for licensure and has been deemed eligible by the board to sit for its examinations.

"Clinical counseling services" means activities such as assessment, diagnosis, treatment planning, and treatment implementation.

"Compact" means the Counseling Compact.

"Compact privilege" means a legal authorization, which is equivalent to a license, permitting the practice of professional counseling in a remote state.

"Competency area" means an area in which a person possesses knowledge and skill and the ability to apply them in the clinical setting.

"Conversion therapy" means any practice or treatment as defined in § 54.1-2409.5 A of the Code of Virginia.

"CORE" means Council on Rehabilitation Education.

"Counseling Compact Commission" or "commission" means the national administrative body whose membership consists of all states that have enacted the compact.

"Exempt setting" means an agency or institution in which licensure is not required to engage in the practice of counseling according to the conditions set forth in § 54.1-3501 of the Code of Virginia.

"Face-to-face" means the in-person delivery of clinical counseling services for a client.

"Group supervision" means the process of clinical supervision of no more than six persons in a group setting provided by a qualified supervisor.

"Home state" means the member state of the compact that is the licensee's primary state of residence.

"Internship" means a formal academic course from a regionally accredited college or university in which supervised, practical experience is obtained in a clinical setting in the application of counseling principles, methods, and techniques.

"Jurisdiction" means a state, territory, district, province, or country that has granted a professional certificate or license to practice a profession, use a professional title, or hold oneself out as a practitioner of that profession.

"Member state" means a state that has enacted the compact.

"Nonexempt setting" means a setting that does not meet the conditions of exemption from the requirements of licensure to engage in the practice of counseling as set forth in § 54.1-3501 of the Code of Virginia.

"Practitioner" means an individual who holds a license to practice professional counseling, license to practice as a resident in counseling, or a compact privilege to practice professional counseling in Virginia.

"Regional accrediting agency" means one of the regional accreditation agencies recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education responsible for accrediting senior postsecondary institutions.

"Remote state" means a member state of the compact other than the home state where the licensee is exercising or seeking to exercise the privilege to practice.

"Residency" means a postgraduate, supervised, clinical experience.

"Resident" means an individual who has a supervisory contract and has been issued a temporary license by the board to provide clinical services in professional counseling under supervision.

"Supervision" means the ongoing process performed by a supervisor who monitors the performance of the person supervised and provides regular, documented individual or group consultation, guidance, and instruction that is specific to the clinical counseling services being performed with respect to the clinical skills and competencies of the person supervised.

"Supervisory contract" means an agreement that outlines the expectations and responsibilities of the supervisor and resident in accordance with regulations of the board.

18VAC115-20-20 Fees required by the board

A. The board has established the following fees applicable to licensure as a professional counselor or a resident in counseling:

Initial licensure by examination: Application processing and initial licensure as a professional counselor


Initial licensure by endorsement: Application processing and initial licensure as a professional counselor


Application for initial compact privilege


Annual renewal of compact privilege


Application and initial licensure as a resident in counseling


Pre-review of education only


Duplicate license


Verification of licensure to another jurisdiction


Active annual license renewal for a professional counselor


Inactive annual license renewal for a professional counselor


Annual renewal for a resident in counseling


Late renewal for a professional counselor


Late renewal for a resident in counseling


Reinstatement of a lapsed license for a professional counselor


Reinstatement following revocation or suspension


Replacement of or additional wall certificate


Returned check or dishonored credit or debit card


B. All fees are nonrefundable.

C. Examination fees shall be determined and made payable as determined by the board.

18VAC115-20-41 Compact privilege to practice professional counseling

To obtain a compact privilege to practice professional counseling in Virginia, a licensed professional counselor in a member state shall comply with the rules adopted by the Counseling Compact Commission in effect at the time of application.

18VAC115-20-100 Annual renewal of licensure or compact privilege

A. Every licensed professional counselor who intends to continue an active practice shall submit to the board on or before June 30 of each year:

1. A completed form for renewal of the license on which the licensee attests to compliance with the continuing competency requirements prescribed in this chapter; and

2. The renewal fee prescribed in 18VAC115-20-20.

B. A licensed professional counselor who wishes to place his license in an inactive status may do so upon payment of the inactive renewal fee as established in 18VAC115-20-20. No person shall practice counseling in Virginia unless he holds a current active license. A licensee who has placed himself in inactive status may become active by fulfilling the reactivation requirements set forth in subsection C of 18VAC115-20-110.

C. For renewal of a resident license in counseling, the following shall apply:

1. A resident license shall expire annually in the month the resident license was initially issued and may be renewed up to five times by submission of the renewal form and payment of the fee prescribed in 18VAC115-20-20.

2. On the annual renewal, the resident shall attest that a supervisory contract is in effect with a board-approved supervisor for each of the locations at which the resident is currently providing clinical counseling services.

3. On the annual renewal, the resident in counseling shall attest to completion of three hours in continuing education courses that emphasize the ethics, standards of practice, or laws governing behavioral science professions in Virginia, offered by an approved provider as set forth in subsection B of 18VAC115-20-106.

D. In order to renew a compact privilege to practice in Virginia, the compact privilege holder shall comply with the rules adopted by the Counseling Compact Commission in effect at the time of the renewal.

E. Licensees Practitioners shall notify the board of a change in the address of record or the public address, if different from the address of record within 60 days. Failure to receive a renewal notice from the board shall not relieve the license holder practitioner from the renewal requirement.

E.F. Practice with an expired license or compact privilege is prohibited and may constitute grounds for disciplinary action.

18VAC115-20-130 Standards of practice

A. The protection of the public health, safety, and welfare and the best interest of the public shall be the primary guide in determining the appropriate professional conduct of all persons whose activities are regulated by the board. Regardless of the delivery method, whether in person, by phone, or electronically, these standards shall apply to the practice of counseling.

B. Persons licensed or registered by the board Practitioners shall:

1. Practice in a manner that is in the best interest of the public and does not endanger the public health, safety, or welfare;

2. Practice only within the boundaries of their competence, based on their education, training, supervised experience, and appropriate professional experience and represent their education, training, and experience accurately to clients;

3. Stay abreast of new counseling information, concepts, applications, and practices that are necessary to providing appropriate, effective professional services;

4. Be able to justify all services rendered to clients as necessary and appropriate for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes;

5. Document the need for and steps taken to terminate a counseling relationship when it becomes clear that the client is not benefiting from the relationship. Document the assistance provided in making appropriate arrangements for the continuation of treatment for clients, when necessary, following termination of a counseling relationship;

6. Make appropriate arrangements for continuation of services, when necessary, during interruptions such as vacations, unavailability, relocation, illness, and disability;

7. Disclose to clients all experimental methods of treatment and inform clients of the risks and benefits of any such treatment. Ensure that the welfare of the clients is in no way compromised in any experimentation or research involving those clients;

8. Neither accept nor give commissions, rebates, or other forms of remuneration for referral of clients for professional services;

9. Inform clients of the purposes, goals, techniques, procedures, limitations, potential risks, and benefits of services to be performed; the limitations of confidentiality; and other pertinent information when counseling is initiated and throughout the counseling process as necessary. Provide clients with accurate information regarding the implications of diagnosis, the intended use of tests and reports, fees, and billing arrangements;

10. Select tests for use with clients that are valid, reliable, and appropriate and carefully interpret the performance of individuals not represented in standardized norms;

11. Determine whether a client is receiving services from another mental health service provider, and if so, refrain from providing services to the client without having an informed consent discussion with the client and having been granted communication privileges with the other professional;

12. Use only in connection with one's practice as a mental health professional those educational and professional degrees or titles that have been earned at a college or university accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, or credentials granted by a national certifying agency, and that are counseling in nature;

13. Advertise professional services fairly and accurately in a manner that is not false, misleading, or deceptive; and

14. Not engage in conversion therapy with any person younger than 18 years of age.

C. In regard to patient records, persons licensed by the board practitioners shall:

1. Maintain written or electronic clinical records for each client to include treatment dates and identifying information to substantiate diagnosis and treatment plan, client progress, and termination;

2. Maintain client records securely, inform all employees of the requirements of confidentiality, and provide for the destruction of records that are no longer useful in a manner that ensures client confidentiality;

3. Disclose or release records to others only with the client's expressed written consent or that of the client's legally authorized representative in accordance with § 32.1-127.1:03 of the Code of Virginia;

4. Ensure confidentiality in the usage of client records and clinical materials by obtaining informed consent from the client or the client's legally authorized representative before (i) videotaping, (ii) audio recording, (iii) permitting third party observation, or (iv) using identifiable client records and clinical materials in teaching, writing, or public presentations; and

5. Maintain client records for a minimum of five years or as otherwise required by law from the date of termination of the counseling relationship with the following exceptions:

a. At minimum, records of a minor child shall be maintained for five years after attaining the age of majority (18 years) or 10 years following termination, whichever comes later;

b. Records that are required by contractual obligation or federal law to be maintained for a longer period of time; or

c. Records that have been transferred to another mental health service provider or given to the client or his legally authorized representative.

D. In regard to dual relationships, persons licensed by the board practitioners shall:

1. Avoid dual relationships with clients that could impair professional judgment or increase the risk of harm to clients. Examples of such relationships include familial, social, financial, business, bartering, or close personal relationships with clients. Counselors shall take appropriate professional precautions when a dual relationship cannot be avoided, such as informed consent, consultation, supervision, and documentation to ensure that judgment is not impaired and no exploitation occurs;

2. Not engage in any type of romantic relationships or sexual intimacies with clients or those included in a collateral relationship with the client and not counsel persons with whom they have had a romantic relationship or sexual intimacy. Counselors shall not engage in romantic relationships or sexual intimacies with former clients within a minimum of five years after terminating the counseling relationship. Counselors who engage in such relationship or intimacy after five years following termination shall have the responsibility to examine and document thoroughly that such relations do not have an exploitive nature, based on factors such as duration of counseling, amount of time since counseling, termination circumstances, client's personal history and mental status, or adverse impact on the client. A client's consent to, initiation of, or participation in sexual behavior or involvement with a counselor does not change the nature of the conduct nor lift the regulatory prohibition;

3. Not engage in any romantic relationship or sexual intimacy or establish a counseling or psychotherapeutic relationship with a supervisee or student. Counselors shall avoid any nonsexual dual relationship with a supervisee or student in which there is a risk of exploitation or potential harm to the supervisee or student or the potential for interference with the supervisor's professional judgment; and

4. Recognize conflicts of interest and inform all parties of the nature and directions of loyalties and responsibilities involved.

E. Persons licensed by this board Practitioners shall report to the board known or suspected violations of the laws and regulations governing the practice of professional counseling.

F. Persons licensed by the board Practitioners shall advise their clients of their right to report to the Department of Health Professions any information of which the licensee may become aware in his professional capacity indicating that there is a reasonable probability that a person licensed or certified as a mental health service provider, as defined in § 54.1-2400.1 of the Code of Virginia, may have engaged in unethical, fraudulent, or unprofessional conduct as defined by the pertinent licensing statutes and regulations.

18VAC115-20-140 Grounds for revocation, suspension, probation, reprimand, censure, or denial of renewal of license

A. Action by the board to revoke, suspend, deny issuance or renewal of a license or compact privilege, or take disciplinary action may be taken in accordance with the following:

1. Conviction of a felony, or of a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude, or violation of or aid to another in violating any provision of Chapter 35 (§ 54.1-3500 et seq.) of Title 54.1 of the Code of Virginia, any other statute applicable to the practice of professional counseling, or any provision of this chapter;

2. Procurement of a license or compact privilege, including submission of an application or supervisory forms, by fraud or misrepresentation;

3. Conducting one's practice in such a manner as to make it a danger to the health and welfare of one's clients or to the public, or if one is unable to practice counseling with reasonable skill and safety to clients by reason of illness, abusive use of alcohol, drugs, narcotics, chemicals, or other type of material or result of any mental or physical condition;

4. Intentional or negligent conduct that causes or is likely to cause injury to a client or clients;

5. Performance of functions outside the demonstrable areas of competency;

6. Failure to comply with the continued competency requirements set forth in this chapter;

7. Violating or abetting another person in the violation of any provision of any statute applicable to the practice of counseling, or any part or portion of this chapter; or

8. Performance of an act likely to deceive, defraud, or harm the public.

B. Following the revocation or suspension of a license or compact privilege, the licensee practitioner may petition the board for reinstatement upon good cause shown or as a result of substantial new evidence having been obtained that would alter the determination reached.

18VAC115-20-150 Reinstatement following disciplinary action

A. Any person whose license or compact privilege has been suspended or who has been denied reinstatement by board order, having met the terms of the order, may submit a new application and fee for reinstatement of licensure or compact privilege.

B. The board in its discretion may, after an administrative proceeding, grant the reinstatement sought in subsection A of this section.