Interns and associates in the master’s level mental health professions in California will take a law and ethics exam in their first year of registration, under an exam restructure taking effect in January 2016.
Under the plan, interns and associates in family therapy, clinical counseling, and clinical social work will need to take the state’s Law and Ethics exam in order to renew their registrations. You just need to pass it once: If you pass, you can renew that registration up to a total of six years, the current limit. If you fail, you will need to complete a 12-hour law and ethics CE course to renew the registration, AND the process will start again in the next renewal cycle. (That is, you will again need to attempt the exam; pass it and you’re good to go, fail and you need to do the CE course again.)
The Board of Behavioral Sciences is planning on having multiple exam cycles for the Law and Ethics test during the year, so that registrants will have more than one attempt available to them.
At the end of the prelicensed hours of experience, the registrant will need to pass a single Clinical Exam to be eligible for licensure. That’s in contrast to the current system for MFTs and CSWs, which requires them to pass *two* state-run exams, the Standard Written Exam and Written Clinical Vignette, at the end of the required experience.
It’s a good change, one that hopefully will allow the National MFT Exam to eventually replace the Clinical Exam for MFTs. Social workers will be immediately transitioning to their national exam as the final exam for licensure. The value of the clinical exam is still questionable, as I discuss at some length in Saving Psychotherapy, but a specific Law and Ethics test has a much more evident logical connection to safe practice.
If you’re currently registered as an intern or associate, you will need to take the Law and Ethics exam soon. For those whose registrations expire on or after July 1, 2016, they will need to take the Law and Ethics test in 2016 to renew their registrations. For those whose registrations expire on or before June 30, 2016, the Law and Ethics exam will kick in after that renewal. In other words, they will need to take the test between their 2016 renewal and their 2017 renewal.
The BBS has made a ton of information on the exam restructure available on its web site, including information for those who are currently in the testing process.
And if you’re looking for a study aid for the Law and Ethics exam, I humbly suggest Basics of California Law for LMFTs, LPCCs, and LCSWs. Lots of good stuff in there.