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AMHCA Diplomate Credential Requirements
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AMHCA Diplomate and Clinical Mental Health Specialist (DCMHS)

We recognize members that have achieved substantial professional accomplishments as an ‘AMHCA Diplomate and Clinical Mental Health Specialist’ (DCMHS). To become an AMHCA DCMHS an individual must meet the following requirements:


1. Licensing, Certification, and Experience. Demonstrate clinical mental health counselor licensing, certification and experience.


2. Advanced Practice as attested by Licensing, Certification, and Experience. Demonstrate clinical mental health counseling proficiency beyond the level of licensing with verifiable competence (e.g. CCMHC certification, post-master’s degree education, other certification, etc.)


3. Specialist Training and Experience. Demonstrate clinical mental health counselor expertise in one or more areas of specialization. Specialists are recognized in seven professional areas (see detailed descriptions of each specialty here):

  • Child and Adolescent Counseling
  • Couples and Family Counseling
  • Developmental Disability Counseling
  • Substance Abuse & Co-occurring Disorders Counseling
  • Trauma Counseling

Members who desire to qualify for the AMHCA DCMHS are required to 1) review the requirements listed below, 2) select one or more areas of specialization, 3) complete and submit the on-line application,  and 4) submit application fees to AMHCA. 


Professional development requirements are met by completing the online application. Applicants must possess documentation that attests to their qualifications (e.g. university transcripts, copies of professional licenses, continuing education hours certificates, etc.), or a signed statement by a supervisor or peer that the requirement was met. However, this documentation will not be directly submitted. The submitted online application is the applicant’s certification that all information in the application is true and accurate. 


Although no documentation will be submitted with the AMHCA Diplomate application, copies must be made available to AMHCA if requested. The applicant will attach a resume or CV to the application as a Microsoft Word or PDF document that attests to the requirements in the application. 


Please note that the term Clinical Mental Health Counselor applies to all individuals licensed to practice clinical counseling regardless of their official state title. The term does not apply to individuals who are not licensed such as school counselors or to those who engage in other types of counseling such career counseling, vocational rehabilitation counseling, or any counselor who is not licensed by their state to provide psychotherapeutic counseling services.



Requirements for AMHCA DCMHS Application

1. Licensing, Certification, and Experience. The successful applicant will demonstrate counselor competence which includes all of the following requirements:

A, Certify that you are licensed to the highest level of licensed counseling available in your state

B. Applicants must be licensed for a minimum of five years to be eligible for the diplomate.

C. Starting January 2019 all applicants will be required to pass the NCMHCE.


 2. Advanced Practice. Advanced practice criteria require that the applicant meet two of the following requirements:

A. Service to the profession such as serving on a licensing or clinical credentialing board, or clinical professional organization board.

B. Additional credential: CCMHC, another independent practice license; credential in a related clinical field (Approved AAMFT Supervisor, ACS, LADAC, etc).

C. Additional experience that includes one of the following:

1. Three years of additional practice at the highest level of clinical licensing available in applicants’ state,
2. Three years of graduate teaching in clinical mental health counseling courses (full or part time),
3. Three years of experience as a clinical supervisor

D. A doctorate in Clinical Mental Health Counseling or a related field


3. Specialist Training. To be recognized as a counseling specialist in clinical mental health the applicant must complete all of the following requirements for each area of specialization:

A. Professional Development in the specialty area requires 120 hours of professional development specifically and primarily related to the specialty area.

1. One graduate semester credit hour successfully completed is equal to 15 professional development hours.
2. Presentation hours specifically and primarily related to the specialty area can be counted for up to 60 credits of required professional development hours.
3. Graduate courses taught specifically and primarily related to the specialty area can be counted for up to 60 hours (a graduate semester hour taught equals 15 contact hours).
4. At least 15 of the 120 professional development hours specifically and primarily related to the specialization must be earned within the past 5 years.
5. Only professional development completed within the past 15 years will be counted toward meeting the professional development requirement.
6. All professional development must be completed post 60-graduate credits in mental health counseling (or closely related field).

B. Certify that you have received a minimum of 10 hours of supervision by a supervisor qualified in that specialty area. Please provide name, address, license type and number of supervisor. This requirement is waived for applicants licensed or certified in the specialty area.

C. Applicants licensed or certified for independent practice for 5 years, without discipline, in an area directly related to the specialty applied for can document this license in lieu of documenting professional development hours in the specialty area (e.g. LMFT applying for Couples and Family specialization).


Application Fees

Candidates may apply for AMHCA Diplomate in more than one area. The application fee is $195.00 for the first area and $95.00 for each additional area filed at the same time. All application fees are non-refundable in the event that the AMHCA Diplomate is not awarded. 


Selection Process for DCMHS

Process for awarding the AMHCA Diplomate and Clinical Mental Health Specialist (DCMHS):

  1. The applicant completes the on-line AMHCA application form and submits appropriate application fees.
  2. The members of the AMHCA Diplomate Awards Committee review the application and independently determine if the applicant meets all standards to be awarded AMHCA DSMHS status.
  3. The chair of the AMHCA Diplomate Awards Committee solicits the vote of the other committee members. When the application is approved or rejected, the AMHCA staff is so notified by the committee chair. In the event of a rejection, the committee chair issues a brief statement regarding the deficiencies of the application.
  4. The AMHCA staff notifies the Executive Director and the President of AMHCA of the committee’s decision. 
  5. The AMHCA staff prepares the notification of approval or rejection to the applicant. If the application was approved, the staff completes the necessary certification of the award of AMHCA Diplomate and Clinical Mental Health Counseling Specialist and sends the certificate to the applicant. 
  6. Candidates who meet all of the AMHCA Diplomate requirements will be notified via e-mail. Members who are approved as an AMHCA DCMHS are then entitled to use the following terms: “DCMHS,” “Diplomate of the American Mental Health Counselors Association,” and “Diplomate and Clinical Mental Counseling Specialist in (state the specialty or specialties) of the American Mental Health Counselors Association.”
  7. Members who are approved to be awarded the DCMHCS will be recognized at the next annual conference of the association with a certificate and presented in the Advocate, the newsletter of the AMHCA.