LPC interns: what counts as direct and indirect internship hours?

Nov 7, 2014 by

Today’s post is about gray areas. Specifically, it’s about tallying hours for internship, and what counts for direct and indirect hours for LPC-interns in Texas.

Working in the gray

grayWhen it comes to ethics and board rules in the counseling profession, it’s a mixed bag.

In some places, details are very clearly spelled out. With others, things are gray, asking us to take into account the context and the therapeutic implications of our choices.

There are some good reasons for this.

An ethics code needs to offer guidance on appropriate conduct by offering principles and guidelines. But, it cannot dictate proper standards for each and every possible scenario that might occur. It must make room for clinical judgment.

Documents like these are organic, living entities. Rules change as new situations present themselves.

Big themes emerging in the field include the issue of distance counseling and the role of technology in the therapy relationship.

So, how do we work responsibly with those gray areas? 

How do we make sure we’re adhering to the spirit and the principles laid out in the board rules?

A couple of caveats

Today, I’m focusing on one particular gray area in the Rules & Ethics code for LPC interns in Texas. Specifically, I’ll be offering my interpretation of some examples of direct and indirect internship hours.

The rule cited is current as of the date of this blog post, November 7, 2014.

It is quoted from the Texas State of Examiners of Professional Counselors website.

If you are governed by a different license or practice in another state, you should check with your particular board for information on your internship requirements.

The examples and discussion offered below are my opinion.  As always, you should direct specific questions to your particular licensing board and your supervisor for clarification.

Direct and indirect hours for LPC interns in Texas

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALPC interns in Texas must complete a 3000 hour internship.

This internship is divided in half, into direct and indirect hours. Here’s how the LPC board in Texas defines direct and indirect hours (rules excerpts in italics in this section):

681.2. Definitions.  

Direct client contact–Time spent counseling with clients.

Indirect hours–Time spent in management, administration or other aspects of counseling service ancillary to direct client contact.

The board goes on to describe some limitations on how direct hours may be earned:

  • 681.92. (b) The supervised experience must include at least 1,500 clock-hours of direct client counseling contact. Experience hours earned via counseling by technological means of communication may count for no more than 10% of the total supervised experience hours. Only actual time spent counseling may be counted.

The direct hours definition seems fairly straightforward.

These hours involve providing counseling to clients. These can be in an individual, group, couple, or family format.

Remember: only 10% of direct hours may be offered via technological means, so that means most of your time needs to be spent counseling people face to face.

What could count for indirect hours

But what about indirect hours? What might qualify?

Well, think of all the things you do outside of the counseling hour that supports your work with clients.

For example:


Scheduling appointments by phone or email, following up on no-shows via phone, email, or letter

Attending group or individual supervision in person, including consultation by phone or email

Attending counseling-related trainings via workshops, webinars, or conferences

Consultation with off-site members of client’s treatment team (with signed consent, of course)


Reading articles, books, or blog posts on counseling theory or treatment

Peer consultation/staffing cases with colleagues

Researching to learn more about community resources for referral

Using reference materials like the DSM outside of session to confirm criteria for diagnosis


Filing reports (such as with Child Protective Services) on behalf of a client

Consulting with your malpractice insurance about a subpoena or other work-related matter

Treatment planning activities, such as finding handouts or worksheets online for use in session

Looking over case notes or reviewing audio- or video-tape of previous sessions


Voluntary or mandatory meetings pertaining to client’s treatment, e.g. IEP meetings or court hearings

Site orientation training, including reviewing policy and procedures manuals

Shadowing clinical work with a client (where you are not an active participant)

Writing case notes, assessments, clinical reports, discharge planning paperwork


Get the idea?

I’ve found that direct hours are slower to accrue. Why?

They require more than one person to show up!

As you can see, many of the activities listed above for indirect hours can be accomplished on your own time, by yourself. I find that my interns routinely meet the requirement for indirect hours ahead of direct hours.

Remember, your internship is a key time to develop your skills and identity as a professional counselor.

So, rather than thinking of your hours simply as a total you must accrue, really think about the quality of those hours and strive for diversity in your exposure to different kinds of learning and development.

When the end of your internship rolls around, you’ll be glad you did!

Want some more ideas?  For more reading about direct and indirect hours, I highly recommend Stephanie Ann Adams’ post.

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  1. dr.k hamdan

    I just wanted to say thank you for being self-less and providing such valuable information. Very few people are willing to take the time out of their busy schedule to guide or help others, your website has been extremely helpful. Thank you.

    • Ann

      Thank you for your kind words! This blog post came by request from one of my interns, so I’m happy to hear that others are finding it helpful, too. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  2. shareece

    Thank you for the information. I am also wondering about supervision hours. Do you have some words of wisdom there? TX states 1 hour per week, but I have heard a general go-by is 1 super hour per 10 direct hours. I am wondering because I will be slowly building private practice clients and I may only have a couple of clients to start each week. I am wondering if every other week would be okay at that point until I am able to ramp up my business. What about weeks away on vacation? Do I have to do videocon? Thank you.

    • Ann

      Hi, Shareece. Thanks for taking the time to write! As of the time of writing this post, the Texas LPC board requires 4 hours of supervision per month for LPC interns for the duration of internship and they’re quite clear about that requirement. I haven’t ever heard of adjusting the rate of supervision hours according to how many direct hours an intern sees a week. I’d follow the board requirement and plan on weekly supervision for the duration of your internship. If you’re trying to figure out how to make supervision more affordable, you might consider splitting the cost of some of your hours with another intern by meeting with the supervisor together, if your supervisor is amenable to that. Some supervisors offer group which can make supervision more affordable, too. These formats are both acceptable to the Texas LPC board.

      If you took time away on vacation, you might either coordinate a meeting via videoconferencing or have an additional hour of supervision at another point in the month, to ensure you had at least four hours of supervision total. You can also follow up with the board directly to clarify about the requirements. Thanks again for taking the time to comment! I hope this helped you sort out your options some.

  3. Barbara

    If I am reading this correctly, supervision hour count as indirect hours, yes?

    • Ann

      Hi, Barbara. Yes, a supervision hour is something you do in support of providing direct counseling services to clients, so it counts as an indirect hour. That said, if you’re in a state other than Texas, you’ll want to be sure to read the fine print about how hours are classified in your state, just to be sure!

  4. Sammy

    Hi there. thanks for such a wonderful site full of information. I had a quick question. Does conducting intakes with clients count as direct? I am provisionally being hired as an intake assessment coordinator and this is what I will be doing all of the time. Can this count as my direct hours?

    Thank you for your time.

    • Ann

      Hi, Sammy. Thanks for your comment! Yes, I would say that conducting intakes counts as direct hours because you are working face to face with clients in a counseling/clinical capacity. One thing to consider is how this will shape your internship experience– if you’re looking to do counseling long term, you’ll most likely want to supplement this position with at least a few clients with whom you can have an ongoing therapeutic relationship. You’ll no doubt get a lot of experience and skill in doing assessments, but that skill set is complementary to doing ongoing clinical work. For the purposes of your internship, though, I’d say it would count. I would double check with your supervisor just to be sure, though. Best of luck to you in your internship journey!

  5. Murray Kast

    Thanks Ann. While I think my supervisor is super and have highly valued my time with him—he stated that reading time only counts if you are reading for a specific client or topic. In other words, if I am treating a pt with PTSD, any reading on that topic is fair game for indirect hours. However, if Choice Theory is my general treatment option, spending a couple of hours reading that topic on a Sunday afternoon would not count—since it isn’t related to Pt John Doe but merely the continuing education that is standard for all counselors.
    Also, you reference in a response to Sharece that LPC requires 4 hours per month of suprevision—does that mean in months with 5 weeks there is a “break”? I find myself with a lot more face to face hours than indirect but that appears to be okay since the rule states that direct hours “must include AT LEAST 1500 clock hours…” indicating that more face to face is acceptable. Yet I spend 4 – 8 hours each week in reading but usually only count a couple. Thanks!!!!

    • Ann

      Hi, Murray. Thanks for taking the time to comment! You make a good point about the fact that because supervisors are signing off on your hours, they obviously get some say in how those hours are tallied. While board rules offer guidelines and rules about how hours are counted, there’s also often room for interpretation as to how those rules are applied. Your example about reading is a good one and it’s a great demonstration about why it’s best to check with your supervisor about their interpretation and understanding of the board rules! I personally allow time spent reading any relevant, counseling-related theory books to count as indirect hours, as I feel that an intern’s professional development in this way informs their work with clients and thus counts as indirect hours. But, that’s my policy for my interns and as you pointed out, there’s variability in how supervisors interpret the board rules.

      Similarly, with your question about supervision– in Texas, it’s true the LPC board requires four hours of supervision a month. But, it’s up to the supervisor as to how they handle that weird fifth week that shows up some months. You may or may not be required to have a fifth hour of supervision– that’s up to your supervisor. Personally, I have sometimes had interns go a week without a supervision meeting if they’ve already met the 4 hour quota, with the understanding that they’d call me to consult if an urgent matter emerged that week. At other times, I’ve had them participate in an additional supervision group, or scheduled another individual hour of supervision with them. Because I charge per month for supervision instead of per appointment, there isn’t the financial pressure about an intern paying for an additional hour that isn’t required by the board. My main concern is in meeting board requirements and also providing my interns with the support that they need as they practice. The bottom line: supervisors (and interns) benefit from clarifying with the board about questions like these and, in the absence of more information, to make as thoughtful a decision they can while striving to adhere to the spirit of the board rules. Best of luck to you in your internship journey!

      • Murray

        Thank you, Ann for the info and your prompt reply. For the record, my supervisor has tried to be accommodating with my hours, so it’s not a huge deal—life is full of trade-offs. I’ve never discussed with him about the 4 hours a month. I guess I’ve just always heard “weekly supervision” which accounts for that extra week as opposed to looking only at months. Again—a trade-off—I’d love the week off (actually more than the $$$) but also realize I need the supervision. All of that said, my reading of the Board rules is that not much is left to the imagination!!!!!!

  6. I am trying to find out exactly what the regulation is for counting the 3,500 supervised hours required to obtain a LPC in NJ.

  7. Alyssa

    Hi Ann! Thank you for this post. I do cognitive assessments working one on one with patients as my full time job and get supplemental hours in my LPC supervisor’s counseling clinic. Can I count the cognitive assessments towards my direct hours? Even if it is not directly counseling? Thank you in advance for your help!

    • Ann

      Hi, Alyssa– that’s a good question. I tend to think that assessments count towards hours. One thing to ask yourself is what you’re spending your time doing in these assessments– are you doing clinical interviews, like gathering information on the client’s presenting complaints, family and medical history, etc? How much of your time is spent administering tests? I know of a number of interns who count hours toward internship, with their supervisor’s full approval. This partly raises the question of seeking an LPC vs an LPA license– is your focus more on testing and assessment, or on treatment?

      Also, it’s important to consider your goals for life after internship. If you’re looking to work in private practice doing long-term counseling, you’ll want to consider how these hours will help your progress and skill set toward that goal. If your hours are drawn primarily from a site that offers experience with testing and assessment but you’re hoping to do something quite different in internship, you may find yourself on the other side of your internship feeling a bit unprepared for the work you ultimately want to do.

      If it were me, I’d discuss this in more detail with your supervisor and if there’s a question, contact the board directly to see if you can get some additional guidance on the matter.

      • Alyssa

        Thank you for your reply! There is a lot for me to consider in terms of my future career and goals. I appreciate your advice and I will continue to discuss it with my supervisor and will contact the board to be sure! Thanks again!

  8. Virginia w

    Hello Ann,

    I am being offered a position of case manager at a private foster agency, it will involve intake/discharging of foster youth. Interacting and assessing for both foster youth and foster parent needs, home visits and monthly home visits. Meetings with social workers and other community agencies. My question is will my duties of case manager meet hours for indirect care hours and is it okay to direct care hours with clients other than the ones I get my direct care hours from? By the way, I’m in the state of Texas if this helps to answer my question. Thank you for your help with this question.

    • Ann

      Hi, Virginia. You’ll also be supplying a form to the board as a part of your license about the site where you’ll be earning your hours (if you haven’t already), and it is a chance to offer some information for the board’s review about the site where you’ll be working. If you ever have a question about whether or not your hours will count, it’s best to clarify ahead of time with your supervisor and also to call or email the board for clarification.

  9. Michele Galan

    I am currently a Case Manager with a family services organization for foster families. Would this count towards my 3,000 hours?

    • Ann

      Hi, Michele. That’s a good question– I would check with your supervisor and also contact your licensing board for feedback about whether your hours will count.

  10. Ellen

    I am a LPC-intern in Texas. Can I count indirect hours, such as reading articles and attending seminars, if I have a supervisor, but am not seeing him on a weekly basis yet? My direct hours will start in a month, but I wanted to attend several seminars before then.

    Also, I attended a graduate program that required more hours than the state of Texas did for my practicum and internship. How can I find out if the total number of hours I am required (3000) has been reduced?

    Thank you!

    • Ann

      Hi, Ellen. If you aren’t yet seeing your supervisor for weekly supervision, then you can’t count those hours. While those would normally count as indirect hours, one of the requirements of internship is participating in regular supervision. So, if your meetings haven’t started yet with your supervisor, then you’re out of luck. In terms of surplus hours, the way the rules are currently published permit up to 400 surplus hours toward your internship totals– that’s for any surplus hours you might have left after you’ve completed the 300 (100 direct/200 indirect) hours required for your pre-graduate practicum. I’d suggest you follow up with your supervisor to clarify as well, and read the fine print of the LPC board rules to be clear about all the stipulations regarding surplus hours. There has been talk about removing the surplus hours credit from the board rules, but it isn’t clear if this proposed edit has passed and if or when it would go into effect. It’s one more good reason to check the board’s website and rules frequently for changes, and to be in frequent conversation with your supervisor about these things. Good luck!

  11. Hi Ann,
    In my graduate program, I was required to obtain 600 hours. If I am understanding you correctly I am able to utilize 300 of these hours toward my LPC-I hours?

  12. Lorraine

    Hi Ellen. First thank you for providing this information. Like someone mentioned it is hard to find people who take time out of their busy schedule to provide information for those of us just starting out. I am currently getting some hours in a PRN position at a clinic. I am also at a private practice but have not started seeing clients as yet. I am trying to come up with ways I could attract clients to my profile at psychology.com or just in the community. Thanks in advance for any ideas you may have.

  13. Annie

    Thank you for the valuable information. I had a question: are outreaches (conducting a workshop on psychological issues such as depression, healthy relationships, etc) considered direct hours or indirect hours? Would appreciate your thoughts.