How to Apply for Professional Counselor License

Your Guide to Becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor in New Zealand

Are you considering a career as a professional counselor in New Zealand or currently working in the field? If so, you might be wondering how to get yourself licensed in this rewarding profession. 

Luckily for you, we’ll guide you through a step-by-step process to help you become a recognized professional counselor in New Zealand, ensuring you are well-prepared to embark on your counseling journey with confidence.

How to apply for a professional counselor license in New Zealand?

How to apply for a professional counselor license in New Zealand

In New Zealand, a license is not required to practice as a professional counselor. However, there are still specific criteria you need to meet, and one crucial requirement is becoming a member of a professional counseling association, such as the New Zealand Association of Counselors (NZAC).

However, the process is not as straightforward as it may seem. To help you navigate it, we have prepared a simplified step-by-step guide below.

DifficultyModerate ●●●○○
Number of steps5
Time to perform stepsSeveral weeks to several years (including obtaining full membership)
Things you needInternet access to visit the NZAC website and access resources.
Personal and contact information for your application.

STEP 1: Complete a recognised counseling qualification.

Complete a recognised counseling qualification

To begin your path towards becoming a professional counselor in New Zealand, you’ll need to start by finding a recognized counseling qualification. This can be a diploma or degree in counseling, psychology, or a related field. 

It is important to ensure that the qualification is recognized by the New Zealand Association of Counselors (NZAC). To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Visit the NZAC Website: Start by going to the official NZAC website:
  1. Explore Membership and Registration: On the homepage, look for the “membership and registration” section.
  1. Find Accredited Education Providers: Inside the membership and registration section, search for the link labeled “NZAC Accredited Counselor Education Providers.” Click on this link to access a list of counseling courses.
  1. Browse Course Options: Within the list, explore the available counseling courses. Select the one that aligns with your interests and goals.
  1. Access Course Details: Click on your chosen course, and you’ll be directed to the official website of the education provider offering that course. There, you can find more information and contact details to inquire about admission.

Once you’ve successfully completed your chosen counseling course or program, remember to retain your certificate, diploma, or degree in counseling. You’ll need it as an additional requirement when you apply for membership with NZAC.

STEP 2: Gain supervised counseling experience.

Gain supervised counseling experience

After completing your recognized counseling qualification, the next essential step is to gain supervised counseling experience. This practical experience not only enhances your skills but also serves as an additional advantage when you apply for NZAC membership.

Here’s what usually works to gain experience in the field

  • Seek Out Supervision Opportunities: Look for opportunities to work with clients under the guidance of an experienced and qualified counselor.

You can find these opportunities through counseling agencies, clinics, or private practices that offer supervised placements for aspiring counselors.

  • Networking and Mentoring: Connect with experienced counselors in your area. Reach out to them for guidance and mentorship. They may offer opportunities for you to gain supervised experience or recommend suitable placements.
  • Apply for Counseling Positions: Check for counseling job openings that offer supervised roles for entry-level counselors.

Apply to these positions to gain practical experience while being guided by seasoned professionals.

  • Volunteer or Intern: Consider volunteering at organizations that provide counseling services. Many nonprofits and community centers offer supervised volunteer positions or internships to aspiring counselors.

Once you secure a supervised counseling role, ensure you have regular supervision sessions with your mentor or supervisor. These sessions provide valuable feedback and guidance to help you grow as a counselor.

Don’t forget to keep a detailed record of your supervised counseling sessions, including client interactions and the skills you’ve developed. This documentation will be beneficial when you apply for NZAC membership.

STEP 3: Apply for NZAC membership.

Becoming a member of NZAC is a two-stage process, and here’s how to navigate it:

Stage 1: Provisional Membership

Provisional Membership is your first milestone and lasts from 18 months to a maximum of 5 years (unless an extension is granted). During this period, you’ll need supervision from an NZAC-registered Supervisor with at least 5 years of membership. 

The processing of Provisional Membership Applications generally takes about three months.

How to apply for provisional membership?

  1. Check for Existing Profile: Begin by checking if you already have a profile with NZAC. If you do, use the “Reset Password” button to retrieve your portal login.
  1. Start a New Application: If you can’t find a matching profile, initiate a new application process. 

You’ll be directed to an online portal form where you’ll provide personal information, including your:

  • first name
  • last name
  • primary email
  • username
  • password
  1. Confirm Your Email: Assuming all goes smoothly, confirm your email address. Once confirmed, you’ll be directed to your registration homepage. This is where you can access all your information, including your current registration and membership status.
  1. Choose Your Pathway: To become a provisional member, click on the “Overview Applications and apply here” link on your homepage. You’ll be directed to a page featuring four different pathways:
  • NZAC Accredited Education Provider: This is the most common pathway. You can apply for provisional membership if you have completed a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in counseling from an NZAC-accredited institution.
  • NZAC Non-Accredited Education Provider: This pathway is for individuals who have obtained a counseling qualification from an institution not accredited by NZAC. 

You may qualify for provisional membership if your qualification meets specific criteria, like having completed a minimum of 200 hours of supervised counseling practice.

  • Particular Circumstances: Designed for individuals with qualifications in related fields like social work, this pathway allows those with counseling experience to be considered for provisional membership. 

Eligibility is determined by demonstrating that your skills and experience are equivalent to those of a counselor with a Bachelor’s degree in counseling.

  • Overseas Counselor Education Program: If you’ve earned your counseling qualification outside of New Zealand, this pathway is for you. 

Provisional membership eligibility is contingent on meeting certain criteria, including completing a minimum of 600 hours of supervised counseling practice.

On the page, select the pathway that aligns best with your situation. Click on it to expand the description, access criteria, general information, application forms, and submission details.

Note: When you complete the application form for your chosen pathway, be sure to include your counseling qualification and evidence of the counseling experience you’ve acquired from previous steps and any other relevant documentation as required.

  1. Submit Your Application: Complete your application as per your chosen pathway’s instructions. Follow the submission guidelines carefully. When everything is ready, click the submit button.

Keep in mind:
To access the membership application information, remember to sign up and create your NZAC profile first. This profile is essential to accessing the different pathways.

Stage 2: Full Membership

Full NZAC Membership is the ultimate milestone in your journey towards becoming a recognized professional counselor in New Zealand. 

While this application is not available online, NZAC will provide you with the necessary application details once you’ve successfully completed your provisional membership period.

How to apply for full membership?

Once you’ve completed your provisional membership and have undergone an evaluation, you may be a candidate for full membership. To apply for full membership, follow these steps:

  1. Fill Out a Written Application: To initiate the application process for full membership, you’ll need to complete a written application form. NZAC will provide you with the necessary application form and guidelines for submission.
  1. Meeting with a Panel of NZAC Senior Members: After submitting your written application, the next step involves a crucial meeting with a Panel of NZAC Senior Members.

During this meeting, the panel will carefully assess your qualifications and experience.

STEP 4: Receive confirmation of your NZAC membership.

Receive confirmation of your NZAC membership

After successfully completing the previous steps, including either Provisional or Full Membership application processes, you will achieve NZAC membership. This signifies your official recognition as a professional counselor in New Zealand.

Upon approval, you will receive a confirmation of your membership status from NZAC through a practising certificate, along with all the benefits and privileges associated with your membership level. Congratulations on your achievement!

STEP 5: Maintain your NZAC membership annually.

Maintain your NZAC membership annually

To ensure your status as a registered professional counselor with NZAC and continue practicing, you are required to follow certain processes. We’ll walk you through what you need to do annually:

  1. Annual Declaration: Every year, NZAC counselors are required to complete an annual declaration. This declaration covers several important aspects, including any complaints or convictions, your fitness to practice, your engagement with supervision, and your commitment to ethical standards.
  1. Counselor’s Supervisor Approval: Obtain approval from your Counselor’s Supervisor. They will review your declaration and confirm your fitness to practice while ensuring your compliance with professional standards.
  1. Continuing Professional Development (CPD): Demonstrate your commitment to ongoing learning and improvement by fulfilling your Continuing Professional Development requirements.
  1. Payment of Annual Membership Fee: To maintain your NZAC membership, you’ll need to pay the annual membership fee.
  1. Renew Your Practicing Certificate: Don’t forget about your practicing certificate, which is essential for your counseling practice. Renew it at the start of each financial year, beginning on April 1.

All the resources you need for these processes are readily accessible on your NZAC profile. Look for sections related to subscriptions, registrations, the annual practicing certificate (APC), continuing professional development (CPD), and more to guide you through these crucial annual steps.