Advantages of the Interstate Counseling Compact and What It Means for Professional Counselors

Since 2019, ACA has been working with the National Center for Interstate Compacts to create and operationalize a compact for counselors — and now the Counseling Compact is operational. Thirty-seven states have now passed the Compact legislation and have joined the Commission, which will likely start granting privileges to practice in other Compact states by the end of 2024. The Compact will significantly change the way counselors can practice and provide continuity of care and the ability to reach underserved populations.

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Things to Know

The Counseling Compact is a legislative agreement among participating states which allows counselors to practice across state lines either in person or via telehealth. It is a mutual recognition model, which means that every participating state agrees to recognize the license of all eligible counselors from every other member state and allow them a privilege to practice in that state. Everything is tied to the counselor’s home state and they must have a valid, unencumbered license from the state where they legally reside.

The Compact allows counselors licensed to practice independently to be granted a privilege, comparable to a license, to practice in another Compact state, to use telehealth in their practice, to practice on a home state license in any Compact state if a military spouse, and to utilize an expedited process to obtain a new home license when they move to another state. To be eligible, counselors must hold an unencumbered license from their home state; be able to practice independently and to assess, diagnose and treat behavioral health conditions; and pass an FBI background check. The Compact applies only to counselors licensed as LPCs, or whatever designation the state uses. MFTs, Art/Music/Dance therapists and other mental health professionals with other licenses are not eligible to participate. Psychologists and Social workers have their own compacts
States are eligible to join the Compact if their requirements for licensure include requiring a 60-hour degree in counseling or 60 hours in designated graduate coursework, requiring post-degree supervised experience, and passing a nationally recognized examination. Further, the state’s regulation must include diagnostic authority. The Compact does not change initial licensure requirements for states; states continue to set the standards for licensing in their state. However, only states that meet the criteria can participate in the Compact. LPCs or the equivalent licensed in those states that enact the Compact can access a privilege to practice.
The Commission consists of a representatives from each of the Compact member states. Each licensing board appoints one current member of their board to serve as a commissioner. The full Commissioner meets at least twice a year to address the business of the Compact. There are currently three subcommittees: the Executive Committee, the Rules committee, and the Finance Committee. A representative from ACA, AASCB, NBCC and AMHCA serve as ex-officio members of the Executive Committee. The Commissioners have promulgated rules to operationalize the Compact, developed the budget, hired a vendor to develop the database, and other actions such as designating the required national counseling exam. The Commission cannot go beyond the requirements of the Compact legislation but can provide details and clarity about the regulations.


The Commission hopes to be able to start granting privileges by the end of 2024. They have hired a vendor to create and implement the database, which enables the states and Commission to share information for the Compact. Each member state will have to upload the information for all eligible counselors into the database; the Commission does not yet know how long this process will take.

A privilege is the equivalent of a license and enables counselors to do the same things that they can under a license. A privilege cannot be called a license as licensing laws outline the process for obtaining a license and the process for obtaining a privilege is different. Counselors practicing under a privilege must abide by the the scope of practice and all relevant laws and regulations in the state where they are practicing. A state that grants a privilege may revoke/suspend the privilege but only the home state can take action against the counselor’s home state license.
Once the Commission and states are ready to start granting privileges, they will develop an application. Information about the process, where to obtain an application, and other information will be widely disseminated. There will be a cost for obtaining a privilege, but it should be less than the cost of a license. The amount has not yet been determined by the Commission, and every state will set their own fee. There is no limit on the number of privileges for which a counselor can apply.

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