Note: The following opinion is a lightly-edited excerpt from the new fourth edition of Basics of California Law for LMFTs, LPCCs, and LCSWs. The ban on soliciting testimonials from clients is discussed in one of the book’s new “Room for Debate” segments. To see Emma Jaegle’s counterargument supporting the ban, get the book. For more on what’s in the new edition, which is updated to 2017 state law, click here.
Note: The following opinion is a lightly-edited excerpt from the fourth edition of Basics of California Law for LMFTs, LPCCs, and LCSWs. Emotional Support Animal (ESA) letters are discussed in one of the book’s “Room for Debate” segments, alongside Emma Jaegle’s counterargument supporting therapists writing ESA letters. Note the update at the bottom of this post.
Bill Doherty gave an interview to Minnesota Public Radio last month, cautioning that therapists should avoid issuing diagnoses of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Doherty is certainly correct that diagnosing from afar is dangerous, for a multitude of reasons. But as it turns out, most mental health ethics codes are fine with it.
Update, February 24, 2017 – The Texas Supreme Court agreed to rehear the case, and ruled that MFTs *are* allowed to independently diagnose. More on the ruling can be found here.
Original post, published June 6, 2016 – Ten days ago, the Texas Supreme Court refused a petition for rehearing from marriage and family therapists (MFTs) seeking to preserve their ability to independently diagnose mental illness. The refusal brings at least a temporary close to a years-long fight between MFTs and the Texas Medical Association, with TMA winning. It could impact other master’s-level professionals not just in Texas but around the country.
Following its unsuccessful opposition to Tennessee’s HB1840, which allows counselors to discriminate against clients based on personal belief, the American Counseling Association announced today it is moving its 2017 ACA Conference away from Nashville, where it had been scheduled, and to a different state.
Updated May 10, 2016: They’re moving the conference. A written statement from President Thelma Duffey is here, and a video from CEO Richard Yep further explaining the decision is here.
Updated April 29, 2016: The ACA has released a statement on HB1840 and asking for patience as their leadership weighs its options for the 2017 conference. The full statement is available here.
Updated April 28, 2016: Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed the “religious freedom” bill allowing counselors to freely discriminate, and directly contradicting the ACA Code of Ethics. The ACA should move the conference. My original post, published April 21 under the headline “What should the ACA do about its 2017 conference?” follows. -bc
The American Counseling Association has been vocal in its opposition to pending legislation in Tennessee that would allow counselors to turn clients away based on any personal belief, even if the refusal to treat is discriminatory in nature. They have said that the bill directly contradicts the ACA Code of Ethics and must be vetoed by the Governor.
If the bill passes, however, it puts the ACA in a quandary: Their 2017 conference — for which registration is currently open — is scheduled to be held in Nashville.
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.
The California Law and Ethics Exam is a major source of anxiety for many people in the process of becoming a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I have heard colleagues repeatedly express anxiety about studying for the exam, the exam process itself, and even the process for receiving results. I’ll address each of these areas below as it relates to my own experience with the exam. As someone who just went through the process myself, I can relate to some of these concerns.
Before I continue, a quick aside on sharing test experiences: Ben’s two posts (part 1 & part 2) on what can and can’t safely be shared from a licensing exam are worth checking out before you post your exam experience on Facebook or otherwise share it with the world, especially in writing.
Several states are considering religious freedom bills that would directly impact therapist training and licensure, and clients’ ability to access appropriate mental health care.
As has been the trend for several years now, these bills — also commonly referred to as “conscience clause” legislation — are being framed as protection of the rights of religious people to act in accordance with their moral or religious beliefs, free from government interference. The bills tend to be broadly written, though there have been at least a few instances of bills being written specifically to apply to mental health (including one this year — see discussion of Tennessee below).