AMHCA Diplomate

AMHCA is the first association to recognize both advanced practice and professional expertise in clinical mental health counseling. We believe in the current climate advanced practice clinical counselors with specialist skills are in increasing demand. Both the public and insurance providers are looking for counselors who have acquired cutting-edge training and clinical abilities.

The AMHCA Diplomate and Clinical Mental Health Specialist credential was developed in 2011 by the AMHCA Board of Directors, who continue to oversee the selection process. We believe this credential will enhance the stature of individual clinical mental health counselors and in turn, will increase the prominence of our profession.

We are no longer accepting DCMHS applications at this time.



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 (MS Word version for the visually impaired available by request), 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 and a copy of the current license to practice in the state.. 

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.

Click on each heading to see the criteria 

Demonstrate clinical mental health counselor licensing, certification and experience. The successful applicant will demonstrate counselor competence which includes all of the following requirements:

A. Certify that you are licensed for a minimum of five years at the highest level of licensed counseling available in your state for independent practice without supervision.

B. Beginning January 2019, new applicants must certify that you have successfully passed the NCMHCE.

Click on each heading to see the criteria 

Demonstrate clinical mental health counseling proficiency beyond the level of initial licensing with verifiable competence (e.g. CCMHC certification, post-master’s degree education, other certification, etc.).Advanced practice criteria require that the applicant meet two of the following requirements:

A. Service to the profession (e.g. serving on a licensing or clinical board, an executive or committee position in a professional clinical organization, etc.)

B. Additional credential (e.g. NBCC, NCC, CCMHC, LMFT, Approved AAMFT Supervisor, ACS, LADAC, CAP, 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 (combined with initial five years for a total of eight years at highest level minimum)
  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

Click on each heading to see the criteria 

Demonstrate clinical mental health counselor expertise in one or more areas of specialization. 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 90 hours of specialized 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 90 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 Master's degree in mental health counseling (or closely related field).
  7. Hours used for one specialty cannot be applied to an additional specialty application.
B. Applicants licensed 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).

Selection Process

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.

Application Fees

Application fees are paid online at the end of your application. All fees must be paid in order for your application to be reviewed.

Initial application and one specialist area:
Member: $195.00
Non-Member: $295 (includes one year of member with AMHCA)

Each additional specialist area (if filed at the same time): $95.00

All application fees are non-refundable in the event that the AMHCA Diplomate is not awarded.

Candidates who meet all of the AMHCA Diplomate requirements will be chosen by the selection commitee and notified. They will receive a plaque and certificate either by mail or at the AMHCA Annual Conference.