Testimony on AAC Licensing for Professional Counselors – SB 133

Testimony on AAC Licensing for Professional Counselors – SB 133

 February 24, 2016

 Submitted By: Stephen A. Karp, LMSW


On behalf of the National Association of Social Workers, CT Chapter that represents nearly 3000 members statewide we offer the following comments on AAC Licensing for Professional Counselors.

Raised bill 133 offers the public increased consumer protection and assurances of qualifications of those individual practitioners who practice as a licensed professional counselor. Current statute does not have a provision for a newly degreed mental health professional counselor to be licensed, thus the public is not adequately protected in the event of a non-licensed professional counselor violating standards of practice. This bill rectifies that problem by requiring all professional mental health counselors to be licensed, and ties such licensing into nationally recognized accrediting bodies.

In 2010 the legislature passed licensure for new master degree social workers (MSWs) who practice clinical social work. In 2014 the Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) program was initiated. Our experience with the LMSW has been most positive both in terms of public protection and assuring that all MSWs practicing clinical social work have passed a nationally recognized examination. Raised bill 133 will have similar positive effect for mental health professional counselors.

There are two sections of 133 that NASW/CT does not support; sections 14 and 15 as drafted in the original version of 133. Section 14 would amend the Master Social Worker license to allow a Master Professional Counselor to supervise a LMSW. Section 15 amends the LMSW statute to allow a Master Professional Counselor to provide diagnostic consultation for LMSWs. As an initial license level the Master Professional Counselor is not qualified to provide either supervision or diagnosis consultation to another clinician. Furthermore, we cannot have another profession defining LMSW supervision just as we would not define such supervision for another profession. NASW/CT has been informed by the advocates of 133 that “or a master professional counselor” will be removed from sections 14 and 15. If this is the case we support bill 133. If the language is not deleted we have no choice but to oppose this bill.

NASW/CT supports licensure for all practitioners who are practicing clinical behavioral health. Consumers are only fully protected and qualification of practitioners only best assured through licensure. Connecticut lags behind many states in licensing programs, which makes for weak governance over professional practice. The Public Health Committee’s continued strengthening of appropriate licensure requirements is a positive step forward.

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