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. [Originally published September 26, 2016. Updated August 2, 2017: Added FAQ section. Republished December 19, 2017.]
Streamlining licensure. Banning reparative therapy for minors. Fixing problems in child abuse reporting. Changing “interns” to “associates.” Saving Psychotherapy.
I’ve spent years now fighting for major changes in the world of mental health care, and winning. Many of the changes I’ve played a role in were ones that I was told would be impossible.
Today we launch Ben Caldwell Labs, the most important project of my career. The change I’m fighting for this time involves you.
Student loan debt has been a regular topic here, as it should be. Mental health professionals need to have graduate degrees, which often means taking on significant debt. The American Psychological Association reports that PsyD students in psychology now graduate with a median of $200,000 in student debt just from their graduate studies. The federal government offers loan forgiveness for those who work in government and nonprofit organizations, through its Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
Recently, there’s been some concern over the fate of that program. Therapists and counselors currently working in nonprofit settings wonder whether they will in fact be eligible — or whether the program will still exist — by the time they complete 10 years of service. But their concern is (at least so far) not supported by what’s actually been happening.
[Originally published May 2014.] Last week in Isla Vista, California, Elliot Rodger killed six people before taking his own life. His family says he was seeing multiple therapists. Meanwhile, in the California legislature, discussion of a bill that would mandate additional suicide prevention training for therapists has focused on research showing that more than 30% of those who commit suicide had seen a mental health professional within the past year. Why can’t therapists do more to stop violence among our own clients?
The US Senate may take action this week on the Graham-Cassidy health care bill, a last-ditch effort by Senate Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. If Graham-Cassidy becomes law, the consequences for US mental health providers and their clients would be disastrous.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office will not score the bill before a September 30 deadline for Senators to vote on it. But estimates suggest that under the bill, at least 16 million Americans would lose health insurance entirely after 10 years, given the bill’s similarity to prior Republican health care bills. This would leave millions paying out of pocket for mental health care that is currently covered by insurance.
Issues of race in the US routinely boil over into violence. Charlottesville is only the latest example. Before that, there was Charleston. And Charlotte. And Ferguson. And Baltimore. After each one, there is a wave of questioning on social media amounting to, “Why aren’t more white people speaking out about this?”
Some of that questioning comes from well-meaning and legitimately confused white people. Some of it comes from people of color who are tired of seeing senseless death after senseless death be forgotten with each new news cycle.
The problem with white people sharing on Facebook that they are against racism and racial hatred is that it’s an empty gesture. It reaffirms the individual’s beliefs to people who probably already share them. It becomes a circle of self-congratulation where white people get to reassure each other about how woke we all are. It feels good and does nothing.
Yesterday, President Donald Trump announced a ban on people who identify as transgender serving in the US military. US mental health professional associations swiftly challenged the ban. The associations cite research supporting the inclusion of transgender men and women. For example, a 2016 RAND Corporation study showed that inclusion of transgender servicemembers would have little to no impact on costs or combat readiness.
The major US mental health associations issued the following statements in regard to the ban.
The Healthy California Act — California’s single-payer bill — continues to make progress through the state legislature. If signed into law, it would make California the first state to have a statewide single-payer health care system, even as the federal Affordable Care Act may be scaled back. How would single-payer health care impact therapists, counselors, and related mental health providers?
Here, I’ll do a quick review of what we know so far. It’s broken down into three questions providers rightly ask about the bill: How would it impact my client load? How would it impact my rates? And, How would it impact how I run my practice?
Earlier this month, the governors of Nevada and Connecticut signed laws banning conversion therapy for minors in those states. These follow the signing of a similar law in New Mexico in April. According to the National Center for Lesbian Rights, nine states now ban the practice. The District of Columbia and cities including Seattle, Cincinnati, and several in Florida have enacted similar bans.
If you are not familiar with the practice, conversion therapy (also sometimes known as reparative therapy) involves efforts to change someone’s sexual orientation. The American Psychological Association and other professional mental health groups have strongly disavowed the practice. They note that there is no evidence that the treatment is generally effective, but there is evidence of harm that it can cause.
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.