BASIC QUALIFICATION REQUIREMENTS: The basic requirements for employment as a VHA LPMHC are prescribed by statute in 38 U.S.C. §7402(b)(11). To qualify for appointment as a LPMHC all applicants must:
a. Citizenship. Be a citizen of the United States. (Non-citizens may be appointed when it is not possible to recruit qualified citizens in accordance with VA Handbook 5005, part II, chapter 3, section A, paragraph 3g.)
b. Education. Hold a master's degree in mental health counseling, or a related field, from a program accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Examples of related mental health counseling fields include, but are not limited to, Addiction Counseling; Community Counseling; Gerontology Counseling; Marital, Couple, and Family Counseling; and Marriage and Family Therapy. A doctoral degree in mental health counseling may not be substituted for the master's degree in mental health counseling.
c. Licensure. Persons hired or reassigned to LPMHC positions in the GS-101 series in VHA must hold a full, current, and unrestricted license to independently practice mental health counseling, which includes diagnosis and treatment.
(3) Loss of Licensure. Once licensed, LPMHCs must maintain a full, valid, and unrestricted license to independently practice mental health counseling, which includes diagnosis and treatment . Loss of licensure will result in removal from the GS-101 LPMHC occupation and may result in termination of employment.
d. Physical Requirements. See VA Directive and Handbook 5019.
e. English Language Proficiency. LPMHCs must be proficient in spoken and written English in accordance with VA Handbook 5005, part II, chapter 3, section A, paragraph 3j.
Knowledge of Current LPMHC Practices. To be creditable, the experience must have demonstrated the knowledge, skills, and abilities associated with current mental health counseling practice. Experience satisfying this requirement must be active professional practice at the post-master's degree level, which is paid/non-paid employment as a professional mental health counselor.
Quality of Experience. Experience is only creditable if it is post-master's degree experience as a mental health counselor directly related to the position to be filled. Qualifying experience must also be at a level comparable to LPMHC experience at the next lower grade level. For all assignments above the full performance level, the higher level duties must consist of significant scope, administrative independence, complexity (difficulty) and range of variety as described in this standard at the specified grade level and be performed by the incumbent at least 25% of the time.
Part-Time Experience. Part-time experience as a LPMHC is creditable according to its relationship to the full-time workweek. For example, a LPMHC employed 20 hours a week, or on a 1/2-time basis, would receive 1 full-time workweek of credit for each 2 weeks of service.
Fellowships or Post-Graduate Training. Fellowship and post-graduate training programs are typically in a specialized area of clinical practice, i.e., mental health counseling. Training as a fellow or post-graduate may be substituted for creditable experience on a year-for-year basis.
Practicum in a VA Setting. A VHA practicum experience may not be substituted for experience, as the practicum (field placement) is completed prior to graduation with a master's degree in mental health counseling or related field.
Grade Determinations. In addition to the basic requirements for employment, the following criteria must be met when determining the grade of candidates.
Read the requirements listed at the GS-11 level defined below. You must meet the basic requirements, KSAs at the 9 and 11 level, and one year experience or a doctoral degree in a related field.
GS-11 Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor (Full Performance Level)
Experience or Education. In addition to the basic requirements, candidates must meet one of the following:
1. 1 year of post-master's degree mental health counseling experience; OR
2. In addition to the basic requirements, a doctoral degree in mental health counseling, or a related field may be substituted for the required 1 year of professional mental health counseling experience.
Assignment. This is the full performance level for LPMHCs. At this level they are licensed to independently practice professional counseling and to provide mental health services within the knowledge, theory, and training foundations of professional counseling. They may be assigned to any mental health VHA area, consulting with peers and supervisors as appropriate. LPMHCs may be involved in program evaluation and/or research activities.
Demonstrated Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities. In addition to meeting the KSAs for the GS-9 level, the candidate must demonstrate the GS-11 KSAs below.
1. Ability to engage in information gathering, problem identification, diagnosis, treatment planning, implementation, evaluation and follow-up.
2. Knowledge of current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders in formulation of treatment goals and application of appropriate clinical interventions using professional counseling practices.
3. Basic knowledge of professional counseling practice with emphasis on human development principles through cognitive, affective, behavioral or systemic interventions, and strategies that address high risk behaviors, wellness, personal growth, and career development across the life span.
4. Ability to use a wide variety of individual, group, or family counseling interventions; demonstrates sensitivity to diversity and possesses multicultural counseling skills.
5. Ability to serve on an interdisciplinary team with focus on the intrapersonal, interpersonal, and relational functioning of individuals, groups and families and on the counseling approaches, strategies, and techniques that will best help patients function effectively.
6. Basic skill in the use of computer software applications for drafting documents, data management, maintaining accurate, timely and thorough clinical documentation and delivery of services, such as Telehealth.
7. Knowledge and understanding of existing relevant statutes, case laws, ethical codes, and regulations affecting professional practice of counseling.
8. Ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, with people from varied backgrounds.
1. Ability to make professional evaluations, decisions, and recommendation for treatment planning and implementation.
2. Advanced knowledge and mastery of the fundamentals of the counseling process which includes defining patient/family problems and maintaining an effective counseling relationship.
3. Ability to provide subject matter consultation to colleagues and students on the counseling process within various specialty areas, build on the foundation of competence through regular meetings and discussions to explain assignments, review progress of cases and confer about the counseling perspectives and orientation.
4. Ability to provide complex crisis intervention and stabilization to patients who are in psychological distress.
5. Ability to establish goals/treatment through a collaborative process with the patient utilizing advanced counseling skills, including evidenced-based practices and screening/assessment.
6. Ability to use a wide variety of individual, group, or familial counseling interventions; demonstrates sensitivity to diversity and possesses multicultural counseling skills.
7. Ability to fully utilize the current DSM in making diagnoses and formulation of treatment goals and application of appropriate clinical intervention using professional counseling practices.
8. Ability to develop and deliver psycho-education groups that include life skills, family support, and community integration.
Preferred Qualifications: Advance certifcation(s) in evidence-based psychotherapy and/or addictions.
References: VA Handbook 5005/42, Part II, Appendix G43 QUALIFICATION STANDARD,
dated September 28, 2010.
For more information on these qualification standards, please visit OPM's web site at http://www.opm.gov/qualifications.
In describing your experience please be clear and specific. We will not make assumptions regarding your experience.
Education. Hold a masters degree in mental health counseling, or a related field, from a program accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Examples of related mental health counseling fields include, but are not limited to, Addiction Counseling; Community Counseling; Gerontology Counseling; Marital, Couple, and Family Counseling; and Marriage and Family Therapy. A doctoral degree in mental health counseling may not be substituted for the masters degree in mental health counseling.
APPLICANTS PLEASE NOTE: Education must be accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in order for it to be credited towards qualifications (particularly positions with a positive education requirement.) Therefore, applicants must report only attendance and/or degrees from schools accredited by accrediting institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Applicants can verify accreditation at the following website: http://www.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/index.html All education claimed by applicants will be verified by the appointing agency accordingly. *** If you are using foreign education to meet qualification requirements, you must send a Certificate of Foreign Equivalency with your transcript in order to receive credit for that education. ***
REQUIREMENTS (Failure to comply may be grounds for withdrawal of an offer of employment, or dismissal after appointment):
- Applicants must meet any physical, language, license or degree requirements.
- Applicants must be citizens of the United States.
- Applicants tentatively selected for certain designated positions may be subject to a random drug screening for illegal drug use. Applicants who refuse to be tested will be denied employment.
- New Appointees may be subject to a probationary period.
- New Appointees will be subject to a background investigation to determine suitability.
An OF-306, Declaration for Federal Employment (version dated January 2001), must be submitted prior to appointment. This form is available at www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/of0306.pdf.
HOW YOU WILL BE EVALUATED:
Please ensure you answer all questions and follow all instructions carefully. Errors or omissions may affect your evaluation. When answering the questionnaire, remember that your experience and education are subject to verification by investigation. You may be asked to provide specific examples or documentation of experience or education as proof to support your answers, or you may be required to verify a response by a practical demonstration of your claimed ability to perform a task.