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.
It’s worth noting that the case is not specifically about the merits of MFTs issuing diagnoses. No one has challenged that MFTs are trained to do so. Rather, the lower court ruling centered on whether the MFT licensing board had the authority to allow non-physicians to independently issue diagnoses. In other words, it’s a question of law, not a question of training.
The AAMFT continues to encourage those interested in the outcome of this case to donate to its Practice Protection Fund.