As mentioned last week, the revision (Act 17) to the professional counseling licensing rules is now official. One change effects only a few while the other change benefits all who seek licensing from this point forward. Here are the two changes
- If you completed a MA degree (in a counseling related field) prior to 2009 that was less than 48 semester hours (or 72 quarter hours) but you also completed a total of 60 semester hours you can now apply for licensure.
- Example: You complete a 36 hour MA degree in 1991 but then go back and complete 24 more graduate hours in 2007-8. You are now eligible to apply for licensure
- Example: You complete a 36 hour MA degree in 1998 and did not do any further studies but NOW want to get the remaining work completed in 2012. You should inquire whether or not you have to complete all grad training before 2009 (this is only for those with less than 48 hour MA degrees). It would appear you wouldn’t be eligible
- Postgraduate supervised hours have been lowered from 3600 to 3000. This changes the number of required supervision hours and direct service hours as well.
For more information. Check out these FAQs for professional counselor license from the PA State Board.
Posted previously here about the bill proposed to go to the PA legislature that will change the Licensed Professional Counselor credential from a title act to a practice act. This would further restrict non-licensed counselors from “styling” themselves as a licensed counselor, from offering the services of a counselor. Already one cannot call themselves a professional counselor or similar titles. But these changes would eliminate many from practicing. This bill (see here for bill with highlighted changes. Go to page 10 to see most pertinent changes and list of exempted individuals) is being voted on by the committee on 1/27.
Note that the exempted parties include “pastoral counselors”. In PA they are not defined. However, in other states they are defined and licensed. Thus, who will determine who is a pastoral counselor and what to do with the overlap between the two? In other states, a pastoral counselor must be ordained and trained in pastoral counseling. Also, psychologists supervising unlicensed people with counseling degrees may be exempted but there is still fuzziness in the law.
It all comes down to the definition of “styling.” See this quote from page 10:
Only individuals who have received licenses as licensed professional counselors under this act may style themselves as licensed professional counselors and use the letters “L.P.C.” in connection with their names. It shall be unlawful for an individual to style oneself as a licensed professional counselor, advertise or offer to engage in the practice of professional counselor counseling or use any words or symbols indicating or tending to indicate that the individual is a licensed professional counselor without holding a license in good standing under this act.
Section 3. The act is amended by adding a section to read:
Section 16.4 Unlicensed practice prohibited.
No person shall engage in the practice of as a licensed social work worker, licensed clinical social work worker, licensed marriage and family therapy therapist or licensed professional counseling counselor in this Commonwealth unless the person holds a valid license to do so as provided in this act. The provisions of this section shall not apply to the following persons:
If you are in PA and one of these representatives (scroll down for the list) are from your district, you may wish to register you opinion on the matter.
On Tuesday I got a an up-close-and-personal look at how one of our state’s boards work. I and my program coordinator attended the meeting to answer questions about being a seminary providing an professional counseling masters program. Were we just providing religious education (we do teach bible and theology to our counselors!) or did we actually teach professional counseling. The Board members asked me many questions about theology, epistemology, diversity and whether we were paying enough attention to issues such as classism, sexism, sexual identity, race, immigration, etc. They wanted to know why we were teaching theology to them. They wanted to know what books we were using in our cultural diversity classes and in our human development. Because we mention that we teach these classes from a Christian perspective, I guess that made us suspicious.
I’m happy to say that they voted to approve us “as a program in professional counseling”. But, it was interesting to see the thinking and decision-making processes on the board. A bit of the blind leading the blind. I must say they were all respectful even if suspicious.
And I’m happy I don’t have to go back!