In a major victory for marriage and family therapists, the Texas Supreme Court today ruled that MFTs can independently diagnose in accordance with the DSM. The ruling was surprising, given that the Court had denied review of the case last year. In an unusual move, the court agreed to reconsider the case last fall.
Note: The following opinion is a lightly-edited excerpt from the new fourth edition of Basics of California Law for LMFTs, LPCCs, and LCSWs. Emotional Support Animal (ESA) letters are discussed in one of the book’s new “Room for Debate” segments. To see Emma Jaegle’s counterargument supporting therapists writing ESA letters, get the book. For more on what’s in the new edition, which is updated to 2017 state law, click here.
Donald Trump was elected President of the United States yesterday in what has been labeled a stunning upset. While much of the broader social discussion today will focus on how Trump’s victory happened, as psychotherapists we now must consider how President Trump will impact our profession.
Mental health is not mentioned in Trump’s health care reform paper or on the health care page of his campaign web site. So for this post, we look to his other stated policy goals to see how mental health care would be impacted.
Earlier this year, the Texas Supreme Court refused to hear a case about marriage and family therapists’ (MFTs’) ability to independently diagnose mental illness. While MFTs are trained in diagnosis, a lower court ruled that the state’s licensing board overstepped its authority in an attempt to add the word “diagnosis” to the MFT scope of practice. Going further, the court ruling determined that MFTs should not have been independently diagnosing in the first place. (Though the word “diagnose” was not previously in the scope language, MFTs diagnosing mental illness was common practice, as it is around the country.) The state Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case meant that the lower ruling stood, and MFTs could not diagnose.
Court procedures in Texas allow for one final appeal of the court’s decision not to hear a case. The AAMFT filed an appeal on June 13. In a rare move, the court granted that appeal. Later this year, the Texas Supreme Court will hear arguments about whether MFTs should be allowed to independently diagnose mental illness.
Under a bill signed into law last week by Governor Jerry Brown, counselors (PCCs) and marriage and family therapists (MFTs) in California who have completed their graduate degrees but are not yet licensed will see their title change from “Intern” to “Associate” on January 1, 2018.
The National Labor Relations Board declared this week that student assistants at private universities are employees and have the right to unionize. The decision overturned a 2004 precedent. It will allow thousands of teaching and research assistants to use collective bargaining to demand better pay and working conditions.
Since the qualifications for each of the psychotherapy professions is largely consistent across state lines, it makes sense for the professions to do what they can to make it easier to take your license from one state to another. In recent months, there have been a handful of advances in license portability. Here’s where each of the professions stands today.
Update, February 24, 2017 – The Texas Supreme Court agreed to rehear the case, and ruled that MFTs *are* allowed to independently diagnose. More on the ruling can be found here.
Original post, published June 6, 2016 – Ten days ago, the Texas Supreme Court refused a petition for rehearing from marriage and family therapists (MFTs) seeking to preserve their ability to independently diagnose mental illness. The refusal brings at least a temporary close to a years-long fight between MFTs and the Texas Medical Association, with TMA winning. It could impact other master’s-level professionals not just in Texas but around the country.
Following its unsuccessful opposition to Tennessee’s HB1840, which allows counselors to discriminate against clients based on personal belief, the American Counseling Association announced today it is moving its 2017 ACA Conference away from Nashville, where it had been scheduled, and to a different state.
Updated May 10, 2016: They’re moving the conference. A written statement from President Thelma Duffey is here, and a video from CEO Richard Yep further explaining the decision is here.
Updated April 29, 2016: The ACA has released a statement on HB1840 and asking for patience as their leadership weighs its options for the 2017 conference. The full statement is available here.
Updated April 28, 2016: Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed the “religious freedom” bill allowing counselors to freely discriminate, and directly contradicting the ACA Code of Ethics. The ACA should move the conference. My original post, published April 21 under the headline “What should the ACA do about its 2017 conference?” follows. -bc
The American Counseling Association has been vocal in its opposition to pending legislation in Tennessee that would allow counselors to turn clients away based on any personal belief, even if the refusal to treat is discriminatory in nature. They have said that the bill directly contradicts the ACA Code of Ethics and must be vetoed by the Governor.
If the bill passes, however, it puts the ACA in a quandary: Their 2017 conference — for which registration is currently open — is scheduled to be held in Nashville.