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.
I am part of several online groups for psychotherapists, on Facebook and elsewhere. We talk about ethics, about theories, and sometimes about cases (without identifying details, of course, to protect confidentiality). Most of the time, when people say something that isn’t right, the collective wisdom of the group corrects the error. That’s one of many positives of social media: It allows professionals all over the world to share information and hold each other to high standards of knowledge and behavior.
Sometimes, though, a myth or misstatement is so common that the collective doesn’t effectively stop it. Here are the five misstatements about legal and ethical issues that I see most often from therapists.
Fifty hours. Five-oh. That is all that is left. It truly is hard to believe just how close I am to being done with my 3,000-hour requirement for MFT licensure.
For a majority of the time I’ve been gathering hours, like most interns I haven’t had a clear sense of exactly how close I have been to being done. California’s process of categorizing and tracking hours for MFT licensure is notoriously complicated. It can be hard enough to keep track of the hours we work, let alone figure out which of the many categories or “buckets” the hours belong under. The process is even more difficult, and often frustrating, due to the maximum and minimum requirements under each individual bucket. Anyone who is currently tracking his or her hours, or who had in the past, understands that this is a daunting process.
California law — with apologies to folks in other states, this post is pretty California-specific — says that any master’s level therapist who is not fully licensed cannot “lease or rent space, pay for furnishings, equipment, or supplies, or in any other way pay for the obligations of their employers.”
Fair enough. But what reasonably is an “obligation of their employer?” What should you expect to see as supervisor expenses, and what should you expect to pay for yourself as an intern? I surveyed MFT interns in the state to find out.