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What is the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination?

Are you interested in becoming a licensed or certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor? Learn about the NCMHCE and discover tips to help you prepare for the exam.

Are you interested in becoming a licensed clinical mental health counselor? If so, it’s never too early to begin thinking about the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE).

Continue reading to discover what the NCMHCE is all about, including what the test looks like and how you can prepare.


What’s the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination?

The National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE) is a licensure exam administered by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). The NCMHCE is a requirement to obtain clinical licensure in some states, and a requirement to become a Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC) in all states.

The NCMHCE is also one of two exam options provided for people who wish to become a National Certified Counselor (NCC). The other exam option is the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE).


 What does the NCMHCE entail?

The NCMHCE is offered just twice a year. Beginning in April and October, those interested in taking the exam can register and pay the required fee.

The exam is administered on a computer in one of over 900 Pearson VUE testing centers across the U.S.

Exam results are usually released about four to five weeks after the test is completed.

Designed to test your clinical problem-solving skills, the NCMHCE is made up of 10 clinical simulations. As a whole, the exam is meant to assess the following:

  • Assessment and diagnostic skills
  • Counseling and psychotherapy experience
  • Administration abilities
  • Consultation abilities
  • Supervision abilities


How do the NCMHCE clinical simulations work?

The 10 simulations require you to gather information about a sample patient and make informed decisions based on this information. During each simulation you will usually be provided with the following information:

  • Patient’s gender
  • Patient’s age
  • Current condition or symptoms
  • Appointment location 

The NCMHCE Handbook includes a specific simulation example:

“You are a clinical mental health counselor in a small group private practice. Ms. Wagner is a 37-year-old female who has scheduled an appointment with you. She states, ‘My primary care physician said you could probably help me.’ For the past three months, Ms. Wagner has been feeling stressed, has had problems sleeping, and has not been able to focus on her work.”

After each simulation, you will be required to select what elements (like mental status or stressors) are important to assess. You may then be required to provide a DSM diagnosis for the patient.


How to begin preparing for the NCMHCE

If you’re planning to register for the NCMHCE, it’s important to get an early start on your test prep.

An investment in NCMHCE study books and test prep materials can be a good start. These can provide you with some sample simulations that will help you get a handle on how the exam is organized.

Part of your test preparation may also include answering a minimum of 10 practice simulations in a row, since that is the length of the actual exam.

If you are serious about becoming a Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC), passing the NCMHCE is a must. Some additional CCMHC requirements include:

  • Completing at least 60 semester hours or 90 quarter hours of a post-graduate degree
  • Passing specific courses
  • Doing a minimum of 100 hours of post-graduate clinical supervision
  • Experiencing 3,000 hours of post-graduate clinical client work


Learn more about our Clinical Mental Health Counseling Programs

If you are interested in learning more about the programs we offer that can prepare you for a career in clinical mental health counseling, request more information by filling out the form below. You can also visit Clinical Mental Health Counseling programs page or apply today through our application portal.


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