Emotional support animals (ESAs), and therapists writing ESA letters for clients, are frequent topics around here. After years of overuse, the FAA allowed airlines to ban ESAs from passenger cabins early this year, and every major domestic airline has done so. Now California has developed new rules for therapists wanting to write ESA letters, most commonly for clients who want an ESA in a housing situation that does not allow pets.
If you’ve been confused by recent announcements related to California BBS supervision rules, you’re not alone. The Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS), which governs LMFTs, LPCCs, and LCSWs in the state, has been trying to get word out about three sets of supervision rule changes that are all happening on January 1, 2022. As of that date, remaining waivers expire, new regulations take effect, and new statutes come into effect as well. Here’s what you need to know.
Almost eight years ago, I wrote about how California’s Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act was naive and discriminatory. By applying one set of child abuse reporting mandates to consensual heterosexual intercourse, and a very different, stricter set of reporting mandates to other forms of consensual sexual activity, the law plainly discriminated against LGBT adolescents in same-sex relationships. It also failed to address typical adolescent sexual development, making intercourse non-reportable in many instances where other activities adolescents would engage in during the run-up to intercourse were mandated reports.
That law has finally changed.
I’ve gotten a lot of questions in the past few days about how COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) is affecting the California BBS, or how it is likely to. I’m rounding up those questions here in hopes of making it easier to find the information you need. This post most recently updated on June 2, to include information about new BBS waivers.
Will license exams be cancelled or postponed?
The BBS-contracted testing provider Pearson VUE closed all of its US and Canada testing centers in March, and has been gradually reopening them since May. All exams scheduled while centers were closed have been cancelled and you will need to reschedule.
If your registration expired or is scheduled to expire between March 31 and June 30, 2020, see the information below on Law & Ethics Exam rule waivers.
Despite what you may have heard, the passage of AB5 will not cause the sky to fall.
California’s independent contractor bill, Assembly Bill 5, was described in media reports as an effort to regulate the gig economy, more specifically Uber and Lyft drivers. It actually impacts many, many more workers than that. But it doesn’t change anything for master’s-level mental health professionals in the state. The change that matters for us happened more than a year ago, and most employers have already adapted to it.
Thousands of California mental health professionals working for Kaiser plan to begin an open-ended strike on June 11. They are protesting the company’s ongoing failure to staff up their mental health operations, resulting in Kaiser patients waiting several weeks between appointments. More than 700 stories of the human impacts of these wait times can be found at kaiserdontdeny.com.
I initially posted about Kaiser’s mental health labor force struggles late last year, when therapists staged a five-day walkout. Kaiser has told its workforce that they believe progress has been made since then on a new contract, but Kaiser’s NUHW workers have been working without a contract since September, and are clearly tired of waiting. The dispute hasn’t fundamentally changed since the December walkout. In April, NUHW workers staged a one-day work stoppage in Pasadena.
My original post, published December 12, 2018, follows:
On Monday, roughly 4,000 mental health professionals employed by Kaiser Permanente in California began a planned five-day strike. The therapists (and nurses, who also walked out in solidarity) say they are protesting the massive and continued failure on Kaiser’s part to provide adequate mental health care to its own patients.
This strike is, in some ways, like other strikes you’ve heard about. While the therapists are highlighting client care issues, Kaiser itself notes that those therapists also are demanding better pay and working conditions — common demands to strike over. But this strike is also deeply unusual in the mental health world. Even when therapists are in a union, strikes are very rare. For that reason, this strike is uniquely important.
The time period between completing a graduate degree and obtaining an MFT Associate registration number can feel like a strange state of limbo. You’re no longer a trainee, but you’re not yet a registered associate either. Thankfully, hours of supervised experience gained in that time can still count toward licensure — if you fall within the 90-day rule. What is the 90-day rule, and why does it matter so much?
We all want to pass our licensing exams. If we don’t pass, we may prolong our progress to licensure by several months. Preparing for exams takes a lot of time and money. One way people have sought to save money is by sharing an exam prep login. In other words, letting a friend or colleague access license exam test prep material under your username and password.
Paying half (or less) of the price feels a lot better than paying the whole price, and sharing an exam prep login provides a sense of community around your study experience. But before offering your password to someone else or using someone else’s account, here are some things you should consider.
From the time you were in graduate school, your instructors and supervisors have likely emphasized the importance of self-care. Burnout is a real risk in the world of counseling and psychotherapy, and you have to be able to take care of yourself in order to avoid it.
These messages come from a good place. But they ignore reality for many therapists, especially those early in their careers. And those messages often come with dangerous assumptions and a dark undercurrent: If you’re having a hard time, it’s your own fault.
Two of the most frequent questions to come up in social media groups for therapists involve licensing exams: What is the pass rate for [a specific license exam]? And, What is the passing score? Passing scores and pass rates are both good questions, and it’s easy to confuse them.
Sometimes people ask one when they mean the other. And sometimes people ask the question in a way that could mean either one, like “What’s the passing percentage?” Let’s clarify the difference, and answer both.