Specialist in Developmental Disability Counseling

 Who is this credential for?

Candidates for this AMHCA Diplomate Specialist are required to be knowledgeable with the distinctive ethics and standards of practice in the treatment of people with developmental disabilities. Counselors must be committed to comply with legal, ethical, and practice standards related to this work: e.g. promotion of positive support networks, community inclusion and least restrictive environments; interdisciplinary collaboration; behavioral treatment models; adaptive equipment and environmental needs; assessment of co-occurring mental disorders; psychopharmacology, etc.


What does this credential represent?
The AMHCA Diplomate, Specialist in Developmental Disability Counseling, establishes a clinical mental health counselor standard that demonstrates qualifying expertise with this population. This standard enhances the services for people with developmental disabilities, and augments the credibility of the clinical mental health counselor in working with other specialists, state agencies, and third-party payers.



Complete Requirements

Be a Clinical Member of AMHCA

Have completed all of the licensing requirements as defined by the respective state and have been awarded the license to practice independently. As an independent practitioner, the applicant must have practiced independently for a minimum of three years after completing all state licensure requirements. 

To be recognized as a Clinical Mental Health Counseling Specialist, the applicant must complete all of the following requirements for each area of specialization (A, B, C, D): 

  1. Complete professional development in each specialist area by at least 90 hours of professional development specifically related to the specialist area. These 90 hours must be documented by the date, course title, and number of course hours. Please note the following criteria: 
    1. One completed post-master’s degree graduate semester credit hour is equal to 15 professional development hours. 
    2. Presentation hours specifically and primarily related to the specialist area can be counted for up to 60 hours of the required professional development hours.
    3. Graduate courses taught by the applicant specifically and primarily related to the specialist 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 must be earned within the past five years. 
    5. Only professional development hours completed within the past 15 years will be counted toward meeting the specialist training requirement. 
    6. All professional development hours must be completed post-master's degree in mental health counseling or a related counseling field. 
    7. Hours used for one specialist area cannot be applied to an additional specialist area application. 
    8. Alternatively, AMHCA members who are fully licensed for independent practice for five years in an area directly related to the specialty applied can document this license in lieu of documenting professional development hours in the specialty area (e.g., an LCMHC who is also fully licensed for five years as an LMFT can be awarded certification as a Specialist in Couples and Family Counseling).
  2. Applicants must complete at least 100 hours of face-to-face counseling in the specialist area. 
  3. Applicants must attest to having completed a minimum of 10 hours of specialist supervision by a licensed mental health professional who has expertise in the area. Supervision required for independent state licensure cannot be counted toward this specialist supervision requirement.
  4. Applicants must attest that they have the knowledge of the ethics and standards of practice in the specialist area and will abide by all applicable codes of ethics.  
  5. Complete application and pay fee.