Topic 2: Taking the LMHC Licensure Exam! {by 1/26}

We will be completing a few case study questions for the NCMHCE next week (the exam used for licensure in MA and other states).  We briefly touched upon the content of the exam in our previous class (we will cover the content in significantly more detail next week).  Simply share any questions, concerns, anxieties, or thoughts of optimism that you have about taking the exam.

 

*See Documents 5 & 6 under “MA LMHC Prep” in Handouts.

 

Your original post should be posted no later than 1/26.  It is okay if your post is relatively “short.” Replies are not required for this blog – I will do my best to address each of your responses in class.

30 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Frayah Wilkey
    Jan 20, 2023 @ 12:53:21

    I have a huge amount of anxiety surrounding the exam. I’m much more comfortable with writing papers than test taking and I haven’t had to complete an exam in a long time. I struggle with memorizing a broad variety of content so I’m looking forward to going over example questions and figure out what to expect. Right now it feels very vague and overwhelming so I think that having a better idea of what content to expect will help a lot in terms of my anxiety. This class has already helped answer some questions and clarify things so I’m trying to not focus too hard on what I don’t know now, and instead try to be receptive to any advice others have.

    Despite feeling pretty anxious about the exam, I do feel some optimism based on my personal history of test taking. In undergrad I had to take a lot more written exams and I averaged well. I also had to do an exit exam in my program which about 150 questions and passed within a high percentile even though I was very stressed leading up to the test and felt unsure while taking it. As long as I do what I need to do, I think I’ll fair okay. I’m trying to balance my optimism and anxiety so that I don’t go too far in either direction- it’s important to not be overly-confident or have no faith at all because both ends of the spectrum can be unhelpful when it comes time to take the exam.

    Reply

    • Jennifer Vear
      Jan 20, 2023 @ 13:09:07

      Hi Frayah!

      You make a great point about how we can get anxious about a test or exam and then end up doing fine. As they say, there is a healthy amount of anxiety to have that can help to increase your drive to want to succeed and do well. However, we have to make sure that it remains a drive and does not become debilitating. I am also in the same boat of trying to balance optimism and anxiety. I do not want to become too confident and not study as much as I should for the exam!

      Reply

    • Valerie Graveline
      Jan 20, 2023 @ 21:29:42

      Hi Frayah,
      I have similar concerns and anxiety surrounding the NCMHCE exam, especially as you mentioned having to memorize a broad variety of content. Currently I feel like trying to memorize so much, alongside learning different tx modalities and theoretical approaches is stressful to think about, but as you said I’m sure once we get a better feel for the content on the exam we’ll feel a lot better! It’s great to hear that you have been reflecting on your previous experiences and successes with exam/test taking as well in order to manage those anxieties.

      Reply

    • Lina Boothby-Zapata
      Jan 21, 2023 @ 15:49:51

      Hi Frayah,
      I appreciate your approach in relation to the exam. I agree that it’s important not to be super-confident or have no hope. To manage anxiety, the real scenario is always the best, and study as much as possible to prepare. Unfortunately, in my country Colombia, there are not enough opportunities for the student to train for exams. Public Universities, yes, do, due to the high demand, but private universities are based on your family income. Hence, I have to train myself here in the US to get my LSW license, TOEFL test, and GRE test 😉

      Reply

  2. Jennifer Vear
    Jan 20, 2023 @ 13:06:36

    To get licensed in both CT and MA, I need to take the NCMHCE. Fortunately, I do not have to also take the NCE.
    After looking through the case studies and the questions, I noticed that some of the questions appear to be straightforward and fairly easier to answer. I feel confident in the sense that this program has prepared us well for the exam. Some of the questions do mention things that I have never heard of before, like a genogram, so I had to look that one up. I am interested to look through the rest of the questions, but the exam definitely makes me nervous to think about!

    Reply

    • Valerie Graveline
      Jan 20, 2023 @ 21:34:59

      Hi Jenn,
      I’m glad going over the case studies gave you confidence about taking the exam! I agree with your point that our program prepared us well for this, and I think our actual clinical experience will be so invaluable as well. I had the exact same reaction when reading the question about the family genogram, at that point I was just guessing based off process of elimination (lol) and I found myself honestly having to look up a lot after that! It’s also good to hear that you’ll only have to take the NCMHCE for licensure in both states, at least that’s one less thing to worry about 🙂

      Reply

    • Katie O'Brien
      Jan 25, 2023 @ 08:50:03

      Jenn,

      I appreciate your experience of seeing the word genogram and heading over to Google to see what it is! That’s how I felt with the substance use case – it hit me (maybe a little late?) how the exam won’t just be in the areas we’ve decided to “specialize” or concentrate in. So while I got the family therapy/genogram questions and felt confident in them, the substance use one was like, OK I definitely need to look at that more. But it’s good to know we’re all in the same boat and have our own strengths/”weaknesses”/areas we need to study more for. None of us have it all down pat yet!

      Reply

  3. Valerie Graveline
    Jan 20, 2023 @ 21:24:58

    Going over the NCMHCE sample case studies both brought on feelings of optimism and anxieties at once. In some ways, I felt optimistic as some of the case studies seemed very straightforward and I felt confident in understanding the appropriate answer. On the other hand, walking through other case studies brought on anxieties since I noticed the extent to which other treatment modalities and theoretical orientations are involved, which reinforced to me how much I will have to prepare and study for this exam. Also, I have concerns regarding case studies that focus on populations that I perhaps will not have worked with by the time I take the exam (e.g., primarily substance abuse tx, elderly, young children), so I’m curious how I’ll be able to sufficiently prepare for questions related to these populations without having any direct experience. Overall, though, I’m trying my best to be optimistic about the entire experience because I have historically done well with exams throughout my education career and believe that by the time I take the exam I will be much more confident in myself and my abilities.

    Reply

    • Lina Boothby-Zapata
      Jan 21, 2023 @ 15:40:34

      Hi Valerie,
      I shared the same impression that other treatment modalities and theoretical orientations are involved besides CBT. I wonder how deeper we need to go on this while studying for the test. I would like to know what the test is measuring in terms of Counseling/theory. I guess the workbook will give this direction.

      Reply

    • Jennifer Vear
      Jan 22, 2023 @ 17:22:09

      Hi Valerie!

      I can 1000% relate to the exam giving both optimism and anxiety! You also make a great point about the case studies for populations that you do not have much experience with! I feel this with children and elderly. Hopefully when we study for the exam, the material will cover these areas that we are nervous about! I know I will definitely have to give extra time to those sections!

      Reply

  4. Lina Boothby-Zapata
    Jan 21, 2023 @ 15:34:57

    After reviewing the “MA LMHC prep questions,” The following questions came up:

    (1) The NCMHCE seems to be based on clinical cases. I wonder if the exam measures your knowledge of counseling theories, including CBT, psychodynamic, and humanistic. What is their orientation/approach for the counselor to answer those questions?
    (2) The ethical and cultural questions gave me the impression that is too subjective questions; what is the reference we use to answer these questions?
    (3) Case presentation and questions are addressed in the following domains: professional practice and ethics, intake, assessment, diagnosis, counseling skills, and interventions. These are also divided by comprehension and application. Are there any other domains?
    (4) Is there any specific workbook you recommended, or will only the NCMHCE resources be sufficient?
    (5) The link https://www.nbcc.org/exams/examprep stated that a guide for the new format is under development. Do you know when the new exam will start? And is it worth waiting for the new one or trying to present it as soon as possible?

    Reply

  5. Francesca Bellizzi
    Jan 24, 2023 @ 19:19:53

    Being able to review case examples and licensure requirements gave me a sense of ease knowing what we are expected to test on and how the hours break down from state to state. Reviewing the case examples, I felt a sense of comfort with the structure of the exam and the material that is necessary to know. However, there is a sense of anxiety due to lacking testing experience throughout classes during grad school. I almost wish that the licensure exam was similar to the structure of the paper we wrote to prepare for the oral exam. I definitely know that I will need to extensively prepare for the exam to ensure my understanding of all necessary topics.

    Reply

    • Katie O'Brien
      Jan 25, 2023 @ 08:54:03

      Francesca,

      So interesting to hear your experience of wishing the exam was more like the oral! For me, this format/type of exam, where you get a case and answer multiple choice questions after, alleviates some of the stress because I feel like (as Valerie said in an earlier comment) I can at least do process of elimination if I’m really stuck! But I definitely agree it’s strange going back to studying for a real “exam” after writing so many papers and getting into that groove.

      Reply

    • Kaitlyn Tonkin
      Jan 25, 2023 @ 20:50:27

      Francesa!

      I also feel a sense of comfort when looking at the exam structure, however, also feel anxiety with the lack of testing experience. I’m sure taking these practice tests will help ease that anxiety, especially since I already feel a sense of comfort having seen the exam. I almost agree with you that I would prefer a written exam because I tend to overthink when it comes to multiple choice exams, but I feel a little comfortable knowing there is only one right answer.

      Reply

  6. Katie O'Brien
    Jan 25, 2023 @ 08:45:29

    I’m definitely anxious about taking our licensure exam. Part of that is just normal test-taking anxiety, but a lot of it stems from the fact that we haven’t taken actual sit-down exams in quite awhile! Additionally, beyond that, looking at all the possible content to be covered on the exam feels pretty overwhelming. In particular, I’m more nervous about the topics I don’t have special experience or knowledge in, like for example, substance use – I don’t work with that population and didn’t take the class, so I know that’s an area I’ll have to prep extra for to feel prepared. On the other hand, I also felt somewhat optimistic reviewing the possible content and seeing how much I actually do feel sort of comfortable with. The same thing goes for other therapy modalities/interventions that might not be my go-to in daily practice (i.e. the empty chair technique!) But it seems there are good resources to help us study those areas we aren’t confident in. I also super appreciate getting to see sample exam questions ahead of time!

    At the same time, and this sounds a little weird, looking at the actual format of the exam kind of made me feel better. I feel the program has had us do a lot of work looking at case studies and forming treatment plans and things like that, so this does not seem completely out of the range of our abilities. If there wasn’t so much stress around passing it would almost be kind of fun to look at? Maybe that’s just me!

    Reply

    • Kaitlyn Tonkin
      Jan 25, 2023 @ 20:43:28

      Hi Katie!

      I feel the same way about not feeling as prepared for other types of treatment modalities or for working with particular clients. Just like you, I don’t have much knowledge of working with clients with substance use, so looking at the example case with substance use was helpful to know that’s something I’ll need to put some extra effort into learning. I also agree that looking at the format was comforting especially given some of the classes we have taken that involved looking at case studies!

      Reply

    • Lindsay O'Meara
      Jan 26, 2023 @ 14:00:24

      Hi Katie!

      I feel the same about being able to see an example question. It definitely increased my understanding of what will be expected. We have looked at and created so many case studies. This makes me feel a little more confident for sure. I think we’re also fortunate to have so much support and have colleagues who have already taken it to chat with at internship.

      Reply

    • Christina DeMalia
      Jan 26, 2023 @ 14:18:39

      Hi Katie,

      I felt similarly looking at the example questions. At first I just started reading through to get a sense of the content, but quickly got excited reading through the cases. It did feel almost fun to have some rapid fire information about cases and get to imagine what would be best for those clients in the moment. I agree that the actual stress of needing to pass the exam will add pressure when it comes time to take the real thing, but I felt encouraged that the studying process won’t be too overwhelming given the format of the questions.

      Reply

  7. Pawel Zawistowski
    Jan 25, 2023 @ 14:39:53

    I think that between this program, practicing for some time, and taking time to study for the exam I will be fully prepared to pass the exam. I spoke about this with my supervisor today and she was able to give me some helpful advice such as which study materials to get, and it is good to know that our agency will reimburse me for it.

    Even though I’m not experiencing much anxiety right now I am sure it will become much more felt when it’s time to prepare and take the exam. I guess one worry I have is that I will not meet my hours within two-years of practice, due to other commitments, but at the same time I know that as long as I stay on top of things the best I can, then there is no need to stress about it; even if it takes me a little longer to get there. I think that going over the case example is very useful and gives me an idea of what the exam will look like, and the questions seem relatively reasonable and are not set up to trick you.

    Reply

    • Christina DeMalia
      Jan 26, 2023 @ 14:23:44

      Hi Pawel,

      I had a similar response to the questions. It definitely seems like the multiple choice options are to test your knowledge, rather than trying to trick you. I am curious to know how similar these example cases and questions will be to the actual exam. Even if the questions on the exam wind up being slightly more difficult, I think that the straightforwardness of these example questions will help to build confidence while studying.

      Reply

  8. Moises Chauca
    Jan 25, 2023 @ 18:15:14

    After reviewing the case study and reading the handbook, I felt more prepared for the exam. I am not anxious about the exam yet, but I will probably be anxious when taking the test. Reading the handbook was super helpful as it shared information on all the domains and scoring system. I love the multiple choice gives me a lot of optimism that I would pass the exam. The information for scoring was good but vague in terms of passing. The domains were clear and give you a clue about the information we need to study. This class has answered some of my questions and made me feel prepared as well.

    I also share the same questions with the peers- What approach should we take when answering? I am assuming CBT approach since that is the gold standard for the program. My other questions are for renewal of license- does the exam look similar?

    Reply

    • Pawel Zawistowski
      Jan 26, 2023 @ 12:47:18

      Moises,

      I feel the same way you do, not really anxious now but I am sure I will be the closer we get. I am sure everyone that has come this far will have no problem with the exam, just another milestone in our careers. Glad you are feeling confident about it as well! Also, agree that passing scores were a bit vague.

      Reply

  9. Kaitlyn Tonkin
    Jan 25, 2023 @ 20:39:43

    As I imagine most people are, I am feeling slight anxiety about the licensing exam. However, it is not currently my focus with my oral exam coming up. That being said, I looked over the practice exam and it honestly was not as “bad” as I was expecting. I knew that there were case studies and questions, but I didn’t really know what else to expect. The questions seem straightforward and I’m comforted knowing there’s only one right answer, which I think will help me stay more focused and remain less anxious when taking it. I tend to work myself up when it comes to written exams like this, especially when they are multiple choice. I remember taking AP exams in high school and just being terrible at the multiple choice sections. Looking at the practice questions was helpful and served as a good reminder that I will have to brush up on some things that we focused on earlier in the program or may not have focused on as much with the emphasis on CBT in the program. While I feel some anxiety about the exam, I’m trying to stay positive and optimistic because historically, I have done well on exams and tests even when I feel nervous or like I didn’t do well.

    Reply

  10. Lexi
    Jan 26, 2023 @ 11:40:27

    Seeing case examples, I think is helpful – overall I am feeling like the exam is while challenging, definitely appropriate to the skills level I would hope to be at after so many hours working in the field and also I am thankful to have gone through this program as well. I can see now after learning more about the exam how this program is really designed to prepare us for it – that eases my anxiety too. I tend to like multiple choice, I feel like if you don’t know or aren’t sure the answer it is usually possible to make a really good guess based on eliminating options and focusing on the wording of the question / using context to narrow down to the best response. I also agree with some others are saying / suggesting about talking to peers in the field who are licensed about their experiences with the exam. I can also see how revisiting theory will become important and continuing to sync theory and practice in my mind over the next several years before the exam will help – just keeping that “scientist practitioner” lens as much as I can moving forward.

    Reply

    • Pawel Zawistowski
      Jan 26, 2023 @ 12:42:32

      Lexi,

      Totally agree that this program does a great job in preparing us for the exam and seeing the case examples does ease some of the anxiety as to what to expect from the exam. Also, very good point to talk to those who have taken the exam for advice!

      Reply

    • Lindsay O'Meara
      Jan 26, 2023 @ 14:02:27

      Hi Lexi!

      I am also relieved to see that case studies and multiple choice questions are a part of the testing. We have a lot of experience with case studies, and I too feel confident when testing. I think talking to peers who have taken the test will definitely help calm our nerves as well.

      Reply

  11. Lindsay O'Meara
    Jan 26, 2023 @ 13:57:48

    I personally feel pretty confident in my ability to pass the licensure exam. I have always been better at testing than presenting. However, I am a little nervous about the content. I am currently much more focused on passing the oral exam. So, that’s where my current anxiety is coming from. After that is complete, I’m sure I will be feeling a little more nervous about licensure. I am just going to commit to studying the best I can before hand and go from there.

    Reply

  12. Christina DeMalia
    Jan 26, 2023 @ 14:12:51

    One major question I have about the NCMHCE is about the timing of taking the test. I can see both the advantages to taking the test shortly after graduation (since the information will be fresh), and the advantages to taking the test once I’ve gained more clinical experience. I would be curious to know what approach previous Assumption students have taken and what they would recommend.

    I also am excited to go through the sample case study questions. Reviewing the document, I was definitely curious about not only what the correct answers would be, but how to best make decisions about the different options. As I mentioned in my previous discussion post, I feel optimistic about taking the exam because of the format. I find it reassuring that the items will be multiple choice.

    Reply

  13. Giana Faia
    Jan 26, 2023 @ 14:20:22

    I found reviewing the NCMHCE sample questions to be helpful but also slightly anxiety inducing. I definitely experience some test anxiety so by having these sample questions, it helped me understand what to expect on the actual test itself. However, I am still nervous about having to sit down and actually complete this exam when the time comes because of that test anxiety. Also, while reviewing these questions I realized I need more practice with treating and understanding substance and alcohol related disorders since this is not a population I currently work with or have experience with.

    Reply

  14. Tim Cody
    Jan 26, 2023 @ 19:15:04

    I recently learned a bit more about the LMHC licensure exam during my Group Supervision at my Internship. While it is at least two years down the road, it is still something that we have to prepare for. I am not nervous about acquiring the correct number of hours in order to qualify, nor am I worried about gaining the knowledge and experience necessary to pass the exam. I am hopeful for the journey it will take to get there, and excited about the possibilities that the LMHC opens up for me. I wonder what those doors will open to and how I can use my new skills and license.

    Reply

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Adam M. Volungis, PhD, LMHC

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