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NCE Exam Prep

The NCE is the National Counselor Exam which is offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). The NCE is a required exam for individuals who want to become a certified counselor.

This exam is used to measure the candidate’s knowledge, skills, and abilities that are required to provide effective counseling. You’ll be tested over your knowledge and understanding of theoretical and skill-based tenets that allow you to practice as an entry-level counselor.

NCE Practice Exam

NCE Study Guide
NCE Secrets Study Guide

The NCE exam contains 200 multiple-choice questions. Out of the 200 questions, 160 are scored and the remaining 40 are unscored. The unscored 40 questions are used to provide statistical information for questions to be used in future exams. You are given 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete the exam.

The NCE exam contains 6 domains:

  • Professional Practice and Ethics
  • Intake, Assessment, and Diagnosis
  • Areas of Clinical Focus
  • Treatment Planning
  • Counseling Skills and Interventions
  • Core Counseling Attributes

Domain 1: Professional Practice and Ethics

The Professional Practice and Ethics domain covers the counselors’ knowledge, skills, and abilities that are related to maintaining proper administrative and clinical protocols. This section contains 19 scored questions.

  1. Assess your (the counselor) competency to work with a specific client
  2. Understand statistical concepts and methods in research
  3. Practice legal and ethical counseling
  4. Clarify counselor-client roles
  5. Discuss client’s rights and responsibilities
  6. Discuss the limits of confidentiality
  7. Explain counselor agency policies
  8. Review payment, fees, and insurance benefits
  9. Explain counseling processes, procedures, risks, and benefits
  10. Explain uses and limits of social media
  11. Inform clients about the legal aspect of counseling
  12. Obtain informed consent
  13. Discuss confidentiality as it applies to electronic communication
  14. Establish group rules, expectations, and termination criteria
  15. Assess competency to provide informed consent
  16. Monitor the therapeutic relationship and build trust as needed
  17. Review client records
  18. Provide adequate accommodations for clients with disabilities
  19. Provide information for third parties
  20. Provide referral sources if counseling services are inadequate/inappropriate
  21. Advocate for professional and client issues
  22. Seek supervision/consultation
  23. Create and maintain documentation appropriate for each aspect of the counseling process
  24. Awareness and practice of self-care

Domain 2: Intake, Assessment, and Diagnosis

NCE Flashcards
NCE Flashcards

The Intake, Assessment and Diagnosis section covers the counselors’ knowledge, skills, and abilities to effectively conduct client intake, assessment, and diagnosis. This section includes 19 questions.

  1. Conduct a biopsychosocial interview
  2. Conduct a diagnostic interview
  3. Conduct cultural formulation interview
  4. Conduct an initial interview
  5. Determine diagnosis
  6. Perform a Mental Status Exam (MSE)
  7. Consider co-occurring diagnoses
  8. Determine the level of care needed
  9. Determine the appropriate modality of treatment
  10. Assess the presenting problem and level of distress
  11. Evaluate and individual’s level of mental health functioning
  12. Screen clients for appropriate services
  13. Select, use, and interpret appropriate assessment instruments
  14. Use formal and informal observations
  15. Assess for trauma
  16. Asses substance abuse
  17. Obtain client self-reports
  18. Evaluate interactional dynamics
  19. Conduct ongoing assessment for at-risk behaviors
  20. Use pre-test and post-test measures to assess outcomes
  21. Evaluate counseling effectiveness

Domain 3: Areas of Clinical Focus

The Areas of Clinical Focus section covers the counselors’ knowledge and skills that are related to areas of clients’ concerns. You will be given 47 questions in this section.

  1. Adjustment related to physical loss/injury/medical condition
  2. Aging/geriatric concerns
  3. Behavioral problems
  4. Bullying
  5. Caregiving concerns
  6. Cultural adjustments
  7. End-of-life issues
  8. Fear and panic
  9. Financial issues
  10. Gender identity development
  11. Grief/loss
  12. Hopelessness/depression
  13. Loneliness/attachment
  14. Hyper/hypo mental focus
  15. Intellectual functioning issues
  16. Insomnia/sleep issues
  17. Maladaptive eating behaviors
  18. Remarriage/recommitment
  19. Developmental processes/tasks/issues
  20. Obsessive thoughts/behaviors
  21. Occupation and career development
  22. Physical issues related to anxiety
  23. Physical issues related to depression
  24. Physical/emotional issues related to trauma
  25. Process addictions
  26. Racism/discrimination/oppression
  27. Religious values conflict
  28. Retirement concerns
  29. Ruminating and/or intrusive thoughts
  30. Separation from primary caregivers
  31. Sexual functioning concerns
  32. Sleeping habits
  33. Spiritual/existential concerns
  34. Stress management
  35. Substance use/addiction issues
  36. Suicidal thoughts/behaviors
  37. Terminal illness issues
  38. Visual/auditory hallucinations
  39. Worry and anxiety
  40. Adoption issues
  41. Blended family issues
  42. Child abuse-related concerns
  43. Child development issues
  44. Dating/relationship problems
  45. Divorce
  46. Family abuse/violence
  47. Interpersonal partner violence concerns
  48. Marital/partner communication problems
  49. Parental/co-parenting conflicts
  50. Emotional dysregulation

Domain 4: Treatment Planning

Treatment Planning covers the counselors’ knowledge, skills, and abilities to develop ad effective course of treatment. The Treatment Planning section will include 14 questions.

  1. Collaborate with client to establish treatment goals and objectives
  2. Establish short- and long-term counseling goals consistent with clients’ diagnosis
  3. Identify barriers affecting client goal attainment
  4. Identify strengths that improve the likelihood of goal attainment
  5. Refer to different levels of treatment
  6. Refer to others for concurrent treatment
  7. Guide treatment planning
  8. Discuss the termination process and issues
  9. Discuss transitions in group membership
  10. Follow-up after discharge
  11. Use assessment instrument results to facilitate client decision making
  12. Review and revise the treatment plan
  13. Engage clients in review of progress
  14. Collaborate with other providers and client support systems
  15. Discuss with clients the integration and maintenance of therapeutic progress
  16. Education client to the value of treatment plan compliance

Domain 5: Counseling Skills and Interventions

The Counseling Skills and Interventions section covers the counselors’ knowledge, skills, and abilities to conduct effective counseling. This section contains 48 questions.

  1. Align intervention with the client’s developmental level
  2. Align intervention with counseling modality
  3. Align intervention with client population
  4. Implement individual counseling in relation to a plan of treatment
  5. Establish a therapeutic alliance
  6. Apply theory-based counseling interventions
  7. Address addiction issues
  8. Address cultural considerations
  9. Address family composition and cultural considerations
  10. Evaluate and explain systemic patterns of interaction
  11. Explore family member interaction
  12. Explore religious and spiritual values
  13. Guide clients in the development of skills or strategies for dealing with their problems
  14. Help clients develop support systems
  15. Help facilitate clients’ motivation to make the changes they desire
  16. Improve interactional patterns
  17. Provide crisis intervention
  18. Educate client about transference and defense mechanisms
  19. Facilitate trust and safety
  20. Build communication skills
  21. Develop conflict resolution strategies
  22. Develop safety plans
  23. Facilitate systemic change
  24. Provide distance counseling or telemental health
  25. Provide education resources
  26. Provide psychoeducation for client
  27. Summarize
  28. Reframe/redirect
  29. Facilitate empathic responses
  30. Use self-disclosure
  31. Use constructive confrontation
  32. Facilitate awareness of here-and-now interactions
  33. Facilitate the resolution of interpersonal conflict
  34. Use linking and blocking in a group context
  35. Management of leader-member dynamics
  36. Model giving and receiving of feedback
  37. Address impact of extended families
  38. Contain and manage intense feelings
  39. Explore the influence of the family of origin patterns and themes
  40. Address the impact of the social support network
  41. Use “structured” activities
  42. Promote and encourage interactions among group members
  43. Promote and encourage interactions with the group leader
  44. Use psychoeducation as part of the group process
  45. Explain phases in the group process
  46. Identify and discuss group themes and patterns
  47. Create intervention based on the stage of group development
  48. Challenge harmful group member behaviors
  49. Address the potential interaction of members outside of the group

Domain 6: Core Counseling Attributes

The Core Counseling Attributes section covers the behaviors, traits, and dispositions of effective counselors. This section includes 13 questions.

  1. Awareness of self and impact on clients
  2. Genuineness
  3. Congruence
  4. Demonstrate knowledge of and sensitivity to gender orientation and gender issues
  5. Demonstrate knowledge of and sensitivity to multicultural issues
  6. Demonstrate conflict tolerance and resolution
  7. Empathic attunement
  8. Empathic responding
  9. Foster the emergence of group therapeutic factors
  10. Non-judgmental stance
  11. Positive regard
  12. Respect and acceptance for diversity
  13. Use foundational listening, attending, and reflecting skills

The NCE exam also includes eight common core areas by CACREP:

1.Professional counseling orientation and ethical practice
Includes studies that provide an understanding of all aspects of professional functioning, including history, roles, organizational structures, ethics, standards and credentialing.

2. Social and cultural diversity
Includes studies that provide an understanding of issues and trends in a multicultural and diverse society.

3. Human growth and development
Studies that provide an understanding of the nature and needs of individuals and all developmental levels.

4. Career development
Includes studies that provide an understanding of career development

5. Counseling and helping relationships
Studies that provide an understanding of counseling and consultation processes.

6. Group counseling and group work
Studies that provide an understanding of group development, dynamics, counseling theories, group counseling methods and skills, and other group work approaches.

7. Assessment and testing
Studies that provide an understanding of individual and group approaches to assessment and evaluation.

8. Research and program evaluation
Studies that provide an understanding of types of research methods, basic statistics, and ethical and legal considerations in research.

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Jay Willis

Jay Willis joined Mometrix as Vice President of Sales in 2009, and has developed several key strategic relationships that have enhanced the distribution of Mometrix products. With nearly 20 years of sales experience in the publishing industry, his dedication to providing the highest quality experience for customers, coupled with his sales and marketing expertise, has resulted in significant growth of the Institutional Sales division. Learn more