Becoming a Counselor in Texas 2024: A Comprehensive Guide

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How to Become a Counselor in Texas

Counseling is a rewarding profession that allows you to make a positive impact on the lives of others. In Texas, also known as The Lone Star State, there is a growing need for mental health professionals. If you’re considering a career in counseling, this article will guide you through becoming a licensed counselor in Texas. From educational requirements to licensure, we’ll cover everything you need to know to start Texas LLC and become a successful counselor in Texas.

At LLCBase, we understand that forming a business can be an overwhelming experience, so we are here to help you every step of the way. Whether you’re a recent graduate or an experienced professional looking for a change, becoming a counselor in Texas can be an excellent opportunity. By following the steps outlined in this article, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a counselor in Texas and making a difference in the lives of those around you.

What is a Counselor

A counselor is a mental health professional who works with clients to help them overcome personal, social, or psychological challenges. Counselors use various therapeutic techniques to help clients identify and work through issues, develop coping strategies, and improve their well-being. Some counselors specialize in specific areas, such as addiction, marriage and family therapy, or school counseling.

Why Become a Counselor in Texas

Pursuing a career as a counselor in Texas can be incredibly fulfilling as it offers the opportunity to impact people’s lives positively. Counseling is dedicated to helping individuals, families, and communities overcome challenges, enhance their well-being and resilience, and achieve their life goals. This profound mission provides a sense of purpose and satisfaction that is hard to find in other career paths. Moreover, the nature of the counseling work, which involves problem-solving, continual learning, and human connection, contributes to personally rewarding the profession.

The demand for mental health services in Texas is significantly growing, establishing a considerable need for skilled counselors. Increasing awareness and diminishing stigma related to mental health are fueling this demand. People are becoming more keen to seek help for their mental health issues, escalating the need for counseling services. Moreover, ongoing social issues, economic struggles, and stress and anxiety caused by unpredictable events like the pandemic further amplify the demand for mental health counseling. This robust demand for counselors provides job security and financial compensation to the profession.

Forming Texas LLC for your counseling practice adds to the advantages by providing maximum flexibility and greater control over your professional career. It allows you the autonomy to decide which clients to see when to schedule appointments, and the type of counseling services to provide. As an LLC, you could also offer services across various settings, including private practice, schools, hospitals, community organizations, retirement homes, rehabilitation centers, etc. This ability to work in different settings offers a varied and satisfying caseload, thereby enhancing the counseling experience. We compiled a list of the best LLC formation services in Texas to help you if you decide to start a business as a licensed counselor.

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5 Steps to Become a Counselor in Texas

Here are the essential steps to become a counselor in Texas.

Step 1: Pursue a Master’s Degree

To begin your journey as a counselor in Texas, you must obtain a master’s degree in counseling or a closely related field from an accredited institution. A comprehensive master’s degree program should cover essential topics like human development, counseling theories, assessment, ethics, and professional standards. Be sure to choose a program that meets the educational requirements set forth by your state’s licensing board to ensure your degree is recognized during licensure.

Step 2: Gain Valuable Hands-On Experience

Acquiring hands-on experience is an essential part of your counseling education journey. Most master’s degree programs in counseling require students to complete a set number of practicum or internship hours, providing them with valuable real-world experience under the guidance of seasoned professionals. This practical component is crucial in honing your skills and building your confidence as a counselor, ultimately setting the stage for a successful career.

Key aspects of practicum and internship experiences include:

1. Supervised Client Interaction: During your practicum and internship hours, you’ll have the opportunity to work directly with clients under the supervision of a licensed counselor or other mental health professionals. This experience allows you to apply the theories and techniques you’ve learned in your coursework to real-life situations while receiving valuable feedback and guidance from your supervisor.

2. Diverse Settings and Clientele: Practicum and internship placements can occur in various settings, such as schools, hospitals, mental health clinics, or community organizations. This exposure to different environments and client populations will help you gain a broader understanding of the counseling field and inform your career choices moving forward.

3. Multidisciplinary Collaboration: A practicum or internship experience often involves working alongside professionals from different disciplines, such as social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists. This collaborative aspect will help you develop your communication and teamwork skills, essential for effective counseling practice.

4. Professional Networking: Your practicum and internship experiences will also allow you to connect with other mental health professionals. Networking can help you learn about job openings, gain insights into various counseling specializations, and establish valuable relationships that can support your career development.

5. Transitioning from Student to Professional: Completing your practicum and internship hours will bridge your academic training and your professional career as a counselor in Texas. These experiences will help you develop your professional identity, increase your confidence, and prepare you for the challenges and rewards of working as a licensed counselor.

Step 3: Acquire Counseling Licensure and Certification

After completing your master’s degree and accumulating hands-on experience, the next step to becoming a counselor is obtaining licensure and certification in your chosen counseling field. Since each state has unique requirements, it’s crucial to thoroughly research and adhere to the guidelines established by the Texas licensing board. The process of obtaining licensure and certification in Texas typically involves the following components:

1. Additional Clinical Supervision Hours: Many states, including Texas, require aspiring counselors to complete several supervised clinical hours beyond their practicum and internship experiences. These hours provide further opportunities to refine your counseling skills and gain experience working with clients in a professional setting.

2. Comprehensive Examination: To become a licensed counselor in Texas, you must pass a comprehensive examination that assesses your knowledge and skills in your chosen field. Depending on your state and counseling specialization, this may include exams such as the National Counselor Examination (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE).

3. Application Submission: Once you’ve fulfilled the educational, experiential, and examination requirements, you must apply for licensure and certification to the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors. This application should include relevant documentation, such as proof of your completed degree, clinical supervision hours, and examination results.

4. Application Fees: Applying for licensure and certification typically involves paying a $200- $213 to the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors. Fees may vary depending on your chosen counseling specialization, and you should consult the licensing board’s website or contact them directly for accurate fee information.

5. Background Check: In some cases, the Texas licensing board may require you to undergo a background check to ensure you meet the ethical and legal standards necessary for practicing as a counselor in Texas.

Step 4: Choose the Ideal Counseling Career Path

Armed with your licensure and certification, you can choose a counseling career path that best aligns with your personal interests and professional goals. Counselors have the opportunity to work in a wide range of fields and settings, allowing you to tailor your career to suit your passions and expertise. Some popular options for counseling career paths in Texas include:

  • Mental Health Clinics: Working in mental health clinics allows you to provide counseling services to individuals, couples, and families facing various mental health challenges. These clinics offer multidisciplinary environments and often serve diverse client populations.
  • Schools: School counselors support students’ academic, social, and emotional well-being. Working in elementary, middle, or high schools, you can help students navigate their educational journey and address any personal challenges they may face.
  • Hospitals: In hospital settings, counselors often work with patients and their families to cope with the emotional and mental health aspects of illness, injury, or hospitalization. As a hospital counselor, you may collaborate with medical professionals to provide comprehensive care and support to patients.
  • Private Practices: Starting a business in Texas as a private practice allows you to work independently or with a group of other mental health professionals. This option offers flexibility in setting your schedule, selecting your clients, and choosing your focus areas.
  • Community Organizations: Counselors in community organizations provide mental health services to individuals, families, and groups within specific communities. These organizations often address unique local needs like substance abuse, homelessness, or domestic violence.
  • Specialized Counseling Areas: You may also choose to specialize in a specific area of counseling, such as addiction counseling, marriage, and family therapy, or trauma counseling. Specializing enables you to focus on the issues and populations that most interest you, enhancing your career satisfaction and growth potential.

Step 5: Advance Your Practice through Continued Learning

Continuing education is vital for staying up-to-date on the latest developments, research, and best practices in the counseling field. Many states, including Texas, require licensed counselors to complete a specific number of continuing education hours to maintain their licensure. Additionally, pursuing advanced certifications, attending conferences, and joining professional organizations can help you expand your knowledge, enhance your skills, and grow your professional network.

By following these steps and dedicating yourself to ongoing professional development, you’ll be well-positioned to launch a successful counseling career in Texas and impact the lives of those in need of your support and guidance.

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Timeline to Becoming a Counselor: What to Expect

Becoming a counselor involves several stages, including obtaining the necessary education, gaining practical experience, and acquiring licensure and certification. The time it takes to complete these steps can vary depending on individual circumstances, the chosen counseling specialization, and the requirements set forth by your state’s licensing board. Here’s a general overview of the timeline to becoming a counselor:

1. Bachelor’s Degree (4 years)

The first step in becoming a counselor is typically completing a bachelor’s degree, which takes approximately four years of full-time study. While some counseling programs may accept students with various undergraduate degrees, common fields of study include psychology, social work, or human services.

2. Master’s Degree (2-3 years)

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, aspiring counselors must pursue a master’s degree in counseling or a related field. This advanced degree usually takes two to three years of full-time study. Master’s programs cover essential topics such as human development, counseling theories, assessment, ethics, and professional standards.

3. Practicum and Internship Hours (1-2 years)

During your master’s degree program, you’ll be required to complete a certain number of practicum and internship hours under the supervision of experienced professionals. The duration of these hands-on experiences can vary widely depending on your chosen counseling specialization and state requirements, but they typically take one to two years to complete.

4. Additional Clinical Supervision Hours (1-3 years)

Upon completing your master’s degree and practicum/internship, some states may require additional supervised clinical hours before granting licensure or certification. The number of hours required and the time to complete them can vary significantly, depending on your state and counseling specialization, but this step may take an additional one to three years.

5. Licensure and Certification Process (a few months)

Once you’ve fulfilled the educational, experiential, and examination requirements, you must apply for licensure and certification in your counseling field. The application process can take a few months, including gathering documentation, taking exams, and obtaining a background check.

The time it takes to become a counselor can range from approximately 7 to 12 years, depending on individual factors, chosen counseling specialization, and state requirements. Researching and planning for the specific steps and timeline applicable to your personal journey is essential to ensure a smooth and successful path to becoming a counselor.

Advantages of Becoming a Counselor

Here are the perks of being a counselor in Texas that you shouldn’t miss!

1. Making a Positive Impact on the Lives of Others: One of the most rewarding aspects of becoming a counselor in Texas is the opportunity to help individuals, couples, families, and communities overcome a wide range of personal, emotional, and mental health challenges. You can make a lasting difference in the lives of those who seek your help through your guidance and support.

2. Job Security and Growth Potential: The demand for mental health professionals, including counselors, has steadily increased in recent years. This trend is expected to continue, making counseling a stable and growing profession in Texas. By pursuing a career in counseling, you can enjoy the benefits of job security and numerous opportunities for professional development.

3. Flexibility to Work in Various Settings: As a licensed counselor in Texas, you can work in diverse settings, such as private practices, schools, hospitals, mental health clinics, and community organizations. This flexibility allows you to choose a work environment that best aligns with your personal and professional goals.

4. Advantages of Establishing Texas LLC: Starting an LLC in Texas for your counseling practice can provide various benefits, including tax advantages and liability protection. By forming an LLC, you can protect your personal assets from potential lawsuits, lower your tax liability, and enjoy greater business management flexibility. Forming an LLC in Texas typically includes the payment of $300 filing fee and $0 because it is not mandatory annual report fee.

5. Opportunities for Professional Growth and Specialization: As a counselor in Texas, you can choose to specialize in a specific area of counseling, such as marriage and family therapy, substance abuse counseling, or school counseling. This specialization allows you to focus on the population and issues that most interest you, further enhancing your career satisfaction and growth opportunities.

6. Networking and Collaboration Opportunities: Becoming a counselor in Texas offers numerous opportunities to connect with other professionals in the mental health field. Networking and collaboration can help you gain valuable insights, share best practices, and stay informed about the latest developments in counseling. Joining professional organizations and attending conferences can also provide you with access to resources, support, and continuing education opportunities.

FAQs

How do I become a licensed professional counselor in Texas?
To become a licensed professional counselor in Texas, you must earn a master’s degree in counseling or a related field from an accredited program.
How much does it cost to become a licensed professional counselor in Texas?
The cost of becoming a licensed professional counselor in Texas will vary based on your chosen school and program, but on average, a graduate degree program in counseling can cost between $18,000 to $50,000.
Are there any specific graduate degree programs I need to apply for to become a counselor in Texas?
Yes, you need to earn a graduate degree in counseling or a related field, that is CACREP [Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs] accredited in Texas to become a licensed counselor.
How do I find a CACREP-accredited program in Texas?
You can visit the CACREP website for a list of accredited programs that specialize in counseling.
What are the requirements to apply for a counseling master’s program in Texas?
To apply for a counseling master’s program, you typically need to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, a minimum GPA, and relevant fieldwork experience.
How long will it take to get a master’s degree in counseling in Texas?
Master’s degree programs in counseling typically take two to three years to complete in Texas.
Do Texas counseling programs require applicants to submit GRE scores?
GRE scores are not always required for admission to a counseling program, and the specific requirements will vary across institutions.
Can I undergo a counseling master’s program online in Texas?
Yes, there are several counseling master’s programs available online in Texas if you’re looking for flexibility.
What is the Texas Counseling Association?
The Texas Counseling Association is a professional organization for counselors and counselor educators.
What are some benefits of joining the Texas Counseling Association?
Benefits of joining the Texas Counseling Association include networking opportunities, discounts on continuing education credits, and current information on Texas law and regulation changes that impact the field.
What’s the difference between a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in Texas?
While both LPCs and LMFTs provide counseling services, LPCs specialize in individual therapy and LMFTs work more with couples and families.
How many license levels are there for counselors in Texas?
There are two main types of counselor licenses in Texas
Is a background check mandatory when applying for a counselor license in Texas?
Yes. Applicants for counselor licensure in Texas are required to undergo an intrusive background check before being granted licensure.
What should I do if I have a criminal record when applying for a counseling license in Texas?
If you have a criminal record when applying for a counseling license in Texas, it’s best to speak with the licensing board so they can evaluate your specific situation and determine if you’re eligible for licensure.
How much does it cost to obtain a Texas counseling license?
The fees associated with obtaining a Texas counseling license vary between $500-$900.
How often do I need to renew my counselor license in Texas?
Counselors in Texas need to renew their licenses every two years and are required to complete continuing education requirements.
How many continuing education credits do I need to maintain my counselor license in Texas?
Licensed professional counselors in Texas typically need to complete 24 continuing education credits per every two years.
Are there restrictions on the types of continuing education courses that are permitted?
Yes, continuing education course in Texas must satisfy requirements related to counseling theory, techniques, ethics, and diversity, and needs approval from board to be accepted towards CEUs.
Do I need malpractice insurance to practice counseling in Texas?
Malpractice insurance is not mandatory, but in Texas, the Professional counselor is advised to carry professional liability insurance for its protection in case unfortunate circumstances.
Can I work as a counselor in Texas with an out-of-state license?
It depends upon reciprocity; Texas has some reciprocity arrangements with other states, so it is possible to work as a counselor with a valid license from other states but restrictions may apply in some states.
What benefits are there to holding a National Counselor Certification recognized in Texas?
The board recognizes National Certification as evidence that you have documented the necessary training to be called a professional counselor, making your license much more flexible in Texas for tackling immediate job offers.
How much can a professional counselor earn annually in Texas?
Approximately $48,864 yearly, basing on typical entry-level salary scales.
Which resources can I tap for an extensive understanding of the Texas Counseling field?
The Texas Counseling Association and Texas State Department of Health Services website are useful resources for learning about the counseling field.
How can I get started building testing content knowledge while in preparation towards the licensing exam?
Also, turning to study resources produced by reliable testing companies such as DLTCRP is a handy means to build content knowledge when preparing towards the board exam in Texas.
Which subsections is each board exam in Texas targeting to evaluate?
The National Counselor Exam (NCE) targets evaluating familiarity with major counseling and counseling education concepts. And the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam (NCMHCE) for testing competencies relevant to proficient practice.
What are some helpful strategies to prepare for the board exam in Texas?
Strategies towards board exam preparation in Texas includes, improving technological skill levels crucial aspects such as registration procedures & getting the right study materials, attending exam prep activities, staying positive and partaking in practical experience intensive seminar prep classes.
What happens if I fail my Texas counseling license exam?
Failed results will spur pre-exam stress but learning from experience can also be helpful for candidates who have or will undergo this experience by detailing exam challenges with mentors and filling identified knowledge gaps that may have lead to a score lag for the board exam taken. Also, reaching back out and returning on studying after improving career experience tenure/licenses obtained can grant inspiration for attainment of score better than previously.
Am I eligible for board exam waivers in Texas?
You may be eligible for a waiver for the NCE board exam requirement in Texas if you passed an approved equivalent exam like Texas Mental Health Exam.
Can licensure in Texas be easy to migrate within and across Fellowing States and US territories?
Yes, the Indian Health Service, federal government programs typically fast-track therapist’s licensing processes for care/service during their brief service deployments away from region records.
What qualifications do I need to become a counselor in Texas?
You need a master’s degree in counseling or a related field and a license to practice in Texas.
How do I get a license to become a counselor in Texas?
You need to meet the education and experience requirements, pass the National Counselor Examination or the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology, and complete an application process with the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (TSBEP).
What is the National Counselor Examination?
The National Counselor Examination (NCE) is a standardized test created by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). It assesses your knowledge and understanding of counseling concepts.
What is the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)?
The Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) is a standardized test created by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB). It evaluates your competence in psychology.
What are the education requirements to become a licensed counselor in Texas?
You need to have a master’s or doctoral degree in counseling or a related field that meets the TSBEP’s standards.
Can I become a counselor in Texas without a degree?
No, you need to have at least a master’s or doctoral degree to become a licensed counselor in Texas.
Is there a difference between a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in Texas?
Yes, LPCs and LCSWs have different educational and licensure requirements in Texas. LPCs focus on counseling and psychotherapy, while LCSWs have a social work perspective that emphasizes connecting clients with community resources.
Do I need to pass a background check to become a licensed counselor in Texas?
Yes, you need to pass a criminal history background check and meet other TSBEP requirements related to conduct and ethical behavior.
How long does it take to become a counselor in Texas?
The time it takes to become a counselor in Texas varies based on your education, experience, and licensure requirements. Most people can expect to spend 3-5 years earning a degree, completing supervised practice hours, and passing licensure exams.
Can I become a counselor online in Texas?
Yes, many universities offer online master’s programs in counseling that are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), which meets TSBEP standards.
Can I become licensed as a counselor in Texas if I earned a degree from another state?
Yes, if you earned a degree from another state, you need to verify that your program meets TSBEP requirements and meet other licensure requirements to become licensed in Texas.
Is there a counseling association in Texas?
Yes, the Texas Counseling Association (TCA) is a professional organization for counselors and counseling students in Texas. It provides resources and support to members, as well as advocacy for the field.
Can I work in private practice as a counselor in Texas?
Yes, you can work in private practice as a licensed counselor in Texas.
How much do counselors make in Texas?
The salary of licensed counselors in Texas varies based on experience, location, and other factors. According to Indeed, the average salary for a licensed professional counselor (LPC) in Texas is $69,055 per year as of July 2021.
Can I work as a school counselor in Texas?
Yes, you can work as a school counselor in Texas. You need to meet Texas Education Agency standards for school counselors, which include a master’s degree in counseling or a related field.
Do I need to take any additional tests to become a school counselor in Texas?
No, if you have a master’s degree in counseling or a related field and a counselor license in Texas, you can be certified to work as a school counselor in Texas.
What is the difference between a certified counselor and licensed counselor in Texas?
A certified counselor in Texas does not have a counselor license but has attained certification through the National Board for Certified Counselors or a similar board. A licensed counselor has met Texas licensure requirements.
Can I practice counseling in Texas without being licensed?
No, it is illegal to practice counseling without a license in Texas and can result in legal consequences.
What is the Employment Assistance & Life Skills Counselling Program in Texas?
The Employment Assistance & Life Skills Counselling Program is a program run by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice that provides counseling and support to incarcerated people to help them transition back into society.
Can I become a substance abuse counselor in Texas?
Yes, you can become a substance abuse counselor in Texas. You need to meet the TSBEP’s education and licensure requirements for addiction counseling.
Can I become licensed in multiple areas of counseling in Texas?
Yes, you can apply for additional licenses in counseling areas such as marriage and family therapy or clinical mental health counseling by meeting the specific licensure requirements.
What is the Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council?
The Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council (TBHEC) is a state regulatory agency that oversees the practice of behavioral health professionals in Texas, including licensed counselors.
Can I become a counselor if I have a criminal record in Texas?
It depends on the nature and severity of your conviction. The TSBEP considers criminal history as part of the license application process and has the authority to deny a license or impose discipline based on violations of the Behavioral Health Executive Council Act.
How can I find counseling jobs in Texas?
You can search for counseling jobs in Texas on job boards, such as Indeed or Monster, or on professional association websites, such as TCA or the American Counseling Association.
How can I stay current with developments in counseling in Texas?
You can attend professional development conferences and workshops, join professional associations, read academic journals in the field of counseling and psychology, and participate in supervised practice requirements.
What is the clinical mental health counseling specialty in Texas?
The clinical mental health counseling specialty is a counseling specialty in Texas that focuses on treating mental health and behavioral disorders. It involves training in mental health assessment, prevention, and intervention.
Can licensed counselors in Texas prescribe medications?
No, only licensed physicians or other medical professionals can prescribe medications. Counselors can refer clients to medical professionals for medication management.
Does Texas offer licensure for addiction counselors who are not mental health counselors?
Yes, Texas offers a separate Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC) certification with separate requirements from counseling licensure.

Also Read

How to Save Money While Starting a Becoming Counselor in Texas

One of the most significant financial investments you’ll make as a counselor is in your education and training. While pursuing a master’s degree in counseling or a related field is essential for becoming a licensed counselor in Texas, it’s important to be strategic about where you choose to complete your degree. Consider attending a public university or community college to take advantage of lower tuition rates, or explore online programs that may offer more affordable options than traditional brick-and-mortar institutions.

Another way to save money while starting your counseling career is to carefully consider your overhead expenses when setting up your counseling practice. Before committing to leasing office space or purchasing expensive equipment, consider starting out by offering your services online or in a shared workspace. Utilizing technology can help you keep costs low while still being able to reach clients and build your practice.

In addition to minimizing your overhead expenses, it’s essential to be strategic about how you market your counseling services. Instead of spending money on expensive advertising campaigns, consider leveraging social media and networking to connect with potential clients. Building relationships with other mental health professionals in your area can also help you attract referrals and grow your practice without having to spend a lot of money on marketing.

As a counselor, investing in ongoing professional development and training is crucial to staying up-to-date on the latest research and best practices in the field. While attending conferences and workshops can be valuable, it’s essential to be selective about which opportunities you pursue. Look for free or low-cost continuing education options, such as webinars or online courses, to help you save money while still advancing your skills and knowledge as a counselor.

Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of budgeting and financial planning when starting your counseling career. Creating a budget and sticking to it can help you avoid overspending and ensure that you are able to save money for emergencies or future investments in your practice. Consider working with a financial advisor who specializes in working with mental health professionals to help you develop a customized plan for managing your finances as a counselor in Texas.

Starting a career as a counselor in Texas can be a fulfilling and financially rewarding experience, but it’s essential to be strategic about how you manage your finances from the beginning. By carefully considering your education and training, minimizing overhead expenses, being strategic about marketing, investing in professional development, and prioritizing financial planning, you can set yourself up for success as a counselor while also saving money along the way.

Conclusion

Becoming a licensed counselor in Texas can be a rewarding and fulfilling career choice. By following the steps outlined in this article and adhering to your state’s licensure requirements, you’ll be well on your way to positively impacting the lives of those in need. Remember, establishing Texas LLC can provide you with the flexibility and protection you need to practice counseling in Texas successfully.

Whether you’re just starting your journey to become a counselor or looking to expand your existing practice, taking the time to understand the licensure requirements and opportunities available in Texas will set you up for success. We hope this article has provided you with valuable information and guidance on how to become a licensed counselor in Texas and start your own Texas LLC. Visit LLCBase today and take the next step in your journey to success!

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