Advocacy Kit: A Call to Action – Contact the Governor’s Office!

In case you haven’t heard yet, folks who have spoken to the Governor’s office have stated that the Governor’s Office needs to hear from more folks about their opposition to LARA’s proposed changes.  The contact info is:
Phone: 517-373-3400 and 517-335-7858
Email form:  https://somgovweb.state.mi.us/GovRelations/ShareOpinion.aspx

An Oakland University Counseling Department Director recently contacted Gov. Whitmer’s office and expressed opposition to LARA’s proposed rule change.  He spoke with a friendly staffer named Adam, who knew the broad outline of our concern and that HB 4325 would address LARA’s concerns.  He said they were monitoring how many people were contacting their office about the LPC matter. It is important that everyone call the Governor’s office!

Govornor Whitmer’s office

Phone: 517-373-3400 and 517-335-7858

 

Template Letter/Phone Script: Supporting HB 4325

Message that can be used when calling or emailing your State Representative serving in the House of Representatives or Senate or Governor’s Office:

Hello my name is XXXX.

I am a (Licensed Professional Counselor/Counselor in training) residing/practicing in your district. 

I am calling to urge you to support HB 4325 when it comes up for a vote in the House Floor.  This bill, sponsored by Rep. Aaron Miller, simply codifies some provisions of counselors’ scope of practice that have been in rules and in practice since the law was passed in 1988. 

The key provision in these long standing rules is the ability to diagnose, for which counselors receive substantial training. However, new directives affecting LARA require that scope of practice is codified in legal statute, rather than Administrative Rules.  If such changes are not made, the proposed rule changes by LARA will result in the inability of counselors to continue practicing, leaving Michigan’s 10,000 licensed professional counselors unable to practice and far more clients without mental health care.

This bill in no way changes a counselors scope of practice or who is eligible for licensure — it would continue the same as it has been for more than 30 years.  Again, please vote yes on HB 4325.  The passage of this bill is vital to retaining strong mental health counseling services for Michiganders.  I thank you for your time.

Template for Written Testimony: Opposing current effort by LARA

I am writing to express my concern with LARA’s proposed rules changes for Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) that have significant consequences on the counseling profession and the workforce in Michigan’s public mental health system. Michigan’s CMH system relies heavily on LPCs – as much as 25-30% of the workforce is made up of LPCs.

Despite the unanimous objections of the Board of Counseling Rules Committee, LARA is recommending the repeal of virtually all the rules that define an LPC’s scope of practice under R338.1751. These are rules that have been recognized as part of the scope since they were first promulgated after the passage of the Licensed Professional Counselor statute in 1988. Instead the department insists these definitions should apply only to the educational preparation of counselors and not to counseling practice.

Included in this repeal is the practice of “counseling techniques” and the related ability to “diagnose and identify the problem”. Without these and numerous other definitions, the counseling scope of practice is severely limited. Restricting scope in this way will most certainly reduce the availability of mental health professionals in Michigan’s CMH system and at a time when there is growing demand for these services.

These changes in scope would also put Michigan’s LPCs in violation of the American Counseling Association’s Code of Ethics (E.5.a. Proper Diagnosis), which requires the proper diagnosis of a client’s mental disorder before treatment, and could subject them to permanent expulsion from the profession. Additionally, insurance companies will likely stop reimbursing for the services of LPCs due to the significant limits on scope these rule changes would impose.

LARA is also pursuing the repeal of the rules identifying the requirements for providing counseling supervision (R338.1757), one of which is specific training in supervision. This training is a national standard for professional counseling.

Again, if this rule is rescinded, counselors who provide supervision without training would be practicing in violation of the ACA’s Code of Ethics (F.2.a Supervisor Preparation). Furthermore, LPCs who received their supervision in Michigan may not be eligible for licensure in other states because their supervisor would not be qualified in the state to which the counselor is moving.

I strongly encourage LARA to wait for HB 4325 (sponsored by Rep. Miller) to pass, which would negate the need for any proposed changes. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

2 Comments

  1. I am alive and physically/ mentally healthy today because of a number of licensed professionals. A brain injury as a child left me damaged and empty. They brought me back from a very dark place and made me into a contributing member of society.
    We need them, life is to stressful today to take away a potential safety valve. Not to mention is would adversely affect Michigan’s health care market. Not only would it disrupt the lives of the licensed professionals but also all those they could’ve helped.
    My fiancé is a licensed counselor and has worked and sacrificed to help her clients. I don’t know how she does it and it feels like she might be punished for being great at her job. WHY??

    Reply
  2. To BPL-Board Support-
    Please note the imperativeness that; License Professional Counselors continue to be able to diagnose and provide effective means of treatment to the thousand’s of people in the state of Michigan, who are in need of mental health treatment.

    My name is Lisa Schoettle, I am a Licensed Professional Counselor, who resides in Huron County, “The Thumb”. I have dedicated the last 7 years of my life to work towards Suicide Prevention. I have voluntarily lead a Suicide Survivor Grief Support over the past 7 years. I have over 60 opened clients, and provide Individual, Family, and Couple’s Counseling. I see approximately 30 clients per week. Many people who I provide counseling services to have Medicaid insurance, and are not financially able to travel long distances, or endure the wait time to see a MSW, LLP, etc. They would not be able to obtain mental health treatment if these LARA proposed changes are implemented, nor would they want to, as it takes time and effort to build therapeutic trust, and they are comfortable with their current therapist.

    My clients would absolutely be devastated by LARA’s proposed changes. I become emotional when I even consider this. I work closely with DHHS, Huron Co Courts, Sanilac Co Courts, Probation and Parole Officers, and Family Division. Access to Mental Health services are especially limited in Rural Areas. I volunteer several hours per month on Suicide Prevention. Suicide ratio in this county is quite high, when compared with the state averages.

    I implore you, please do not implement these changes. The devastating ripple affects would be horrendous. I am a Nationally Certified Counselor, CACREP Educated, and am recognized across the United States as a legitimate mental health provider that is able to diagnose and provide treatment.

    These proposed changes would obviously end my career as a Licensed Professional Counselor, but the affect on thousands of others across this great State would be devastating.
    Make the right decision.

    Lisa Schoettle, MA LPC NCC
    Licensed Professional Counselor
    119 S. Heisterman St.
    Bad Axe, MI 48413
    989-402-5260
    counselinginhuroncounty.com

    Reply

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