NCACES Position Statement on Proposed Changes to Michigan Counselors Scope of Practice
October 2, 2019
The North Central Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (NCACES) is the 13-state regional organization representing the midwestern US as part of the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES), a division of the American Counseling Association (ACA). NCACES stands with the estimated 10,000 Michigan licensed professional counselors and fully supports legislation that protects counselor rights, particularly, their ability to practice counseling techniques and to be compensated for the invaluable mental health and support services they provide across Michigan. We support Michigan HB 4325, which will protect counselors’ rights to practice counseling techniques and diagnose clients, in line with their education, training, and scope of practice.
NCACES is deeply concerned about changes proposed by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Registration that would significantly limit or eliminate counselors’ rights to use counseling techniques and to diagnose clients who seek their services. In short, such a change would eliminate counselors’ ability to be paid by third party payers (e.g., managed care, Medicaid) and to use the counseling skills they are trained specifically to use. This would abolish counselors’ ability to practice and serve approximately 150,000 current clients and eradicate counseling opportunities for almost 10 million Michigan residents. We support Michigan HB 4325.
As an organization directly linked to counselor preparation and training, NCACES is an appropriate organization to attest that professional counselors, who hold at least a master’s degree in counseling, are trained to diagnose, are competent to diagnose, and are operating within their scope of practice as professional counselors when they diagnose. Not only does every counseling graduate program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Programs (CACREP) have a stand-alone class dedicated to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), diagnosis is integrated into a minimum of three additional practice-based courses (i.e., practicum, internship) and is included during on site-training in the community. Furthermore, NCACES confirms professional counselors are trained to use counseling techniques. Professional counselors trained in CACREP programs take at least two stand-alone counseling skills courses, have foundational courses in counseling theories, and again, complete a minimum of three practice-based courses (i.e., practicum, internship). It is preposterous to even consider eliminating counselors’ ability to diagnose or practice counseling techniques given their sound training and experience. We support Michigan HB 4325.
Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals (ACA, 2010). Further, strength-based perspectives and interventions guide the counseling profession, as counselors utilize three levels of prevention. As such, counselors offer unique services that the people of Michigan need. Michigan, in particular, is in serious crisis with increased trauma cases, the opioid epidemic, an overall counselor shortage, and decreased access to mental health services for underserved populations. Michigan residents deserve increased access to services, not less. If counselors are unable to diagnose, utilize counseling techniques, and essentially practice fully in Michigan, the public will be damaged as a result.
NCACES stands with Michigan counselors and fully supports legislation that protects counselor rights and their ability to practice and to be compensated for the invaluable mental health and support services they provide across Michigan. We support Michigan HB 4325.
Respectfully Submitted: NCACES Executive Council
Contact: Jennifer M. Cook, PhD, LPC, NCC, ACES; NCACES President; firstname.lastname@example.org