Frequently Asked Questions: HB 4325 and LARA’s Proposed Counseling Rule Changes

What rules changes is LARA proposing?

The actual text of LARA’s proposed rule changes may be found here.  To be clear, some of the proposed rule changes are not contentious and make necessary and appropriate updates.  Others related to R338.1751 and R338.1757 are a cause for serious concern.

First, LARA is recommending the repeal of virtually all the rules that define a licensed professional counselor’s scope of practice under R338.1751.  These are the current rules that have been recognized as part of a counselor’s 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.

Second, 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.

What would the impact of these changes be?

R338.1751:

Included in the repeal of the definitions in the rule 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 will be severely restricted.

These changes in scope 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.

Under Michigan’s public health code, LPC’s are legally required to comply with their professional code of ethics.  They will be violation of this statute. Ultimately, these rule changes will prohibit Michigan’s 10,000 licensed professional counselors from continuing to practice in the state and leave hundreds of thousands of residents without the treatment they need.

Additionally, insurance companies will no longer cover services of LPCs as a diagnosis is required for reimbursement.

R338.1757:

If this rule regarding counseling supervision requirements is rescinded, counselors who provide supervision without training would be practicing in violation of the ACA’s Code of Ethics (F.2.a Supervisor Preparation).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.

Why is LARA proposing these changes?

The Attorney General’s office raised concerns a few years ago as to whether the counseling rules were properly aligned with the counseling statute, questioning whether the rules exceed the statute.  Since LARA only has the authority to promulgate rules, not change statute, they have proceeded with the only option available to resolve this concern: repeal the rules in question.

What is the status of the proposed rule changes?

Despite the unanimous objections by the Board of Counseling, on July 18, 2019, LARA filed a formal request for rule making and submitted its draft rules.  The associated Regulatory Impact Statement for the proposed rule changes was filed on August 28, 2019.

This action triggered the setting of the required public hearing, which is scheduled for Friday, October 4 at 9:00 am at the G. Mennen Williams Building Auditorium located at 525 W. Ottawa Street in Lansing, Michigan.

After this public hearing, the rules can be certified, and a report submitted to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR).  JCAR, a legislative body, has just 15 session days to review the rules.  Their only course of action if they object is to introduce legislation within another 15 days to repeal them.  After the JCAR review is completed, the LARA Director can adopt the rules.

When would the proposed rules take effect?

The rules changes were written with immediate effect.  Given the above timeline these proposed rule changes could be in effect as early as November of this year immediately rendering Michigan’s 10,000 licensed professional counselors unable to diagnose and, therefore, unable to legally practice in our state.

What can be done to oppose the proposed rule changes?

Any member of the public may comment in opposition of the proposed rules changes at the October 4th hearing.  Written comments may also be submitted electronically any time before 5:00 pm on October 4th to BPL-BoardSupport@Michigan.gov

What organizations are opposing the proposed rule changes?

The following are some of the organizations that have expressed opposition to LARA’s proposed rule changes:

MMHCA (Michigan Mental Health Counselors Association)

CMHAM (Community Mental Health Association of Michigan)

MHA (Michigan Hospital Association)

MPCA (MI Primary Care Association)

MATCP (MI Association of Treatment Court Professionals)

MPFFA (MI Professional Fire Fighters Association)

ACA (American Counseling Association)

MCA  (Michigan Counseling Association)

NBCC (National Board for Certified Counselors)

MASW (MI Association of Social Workers)

MSCA (Middle School Counselors Association)

Central Michigan University

Eastern Michigan University

Oakland University

Spring Arbor University

University of Detroit-Mercy

Wayne State University

Western Michigan University

Hope Network

Pine Rest

MI AFSCME

Oakland County

How do the proposed rule changes relate to HB 4325?

The proposed rules are the administrative response to the Attorney General’s question as to whether the rules align with the statute.  HB 4325 is the legislative response.

What does HB 4325 do?

HB 4325, sponsored by Rep. Aaron Miller (R-Sturgis), would codify into statute the existing rules that have come into question instead of repealing them.  This preferred solution allows counselors to maintain their ability to properly diagnose and treat individuals with mental and emotional disorders. The bill also makes a number of technical updates to the 30+ year old law.

Does HB 4325 change the scope of practice for licensed professional counselors?

No.  It maintains the scope of practice that has been in placed since the Licensed Professional Counselor law was passed in 1988.

Does HB 4325 change who is eligible to be licensed as a professional counselor?

No.  It maintains that only those with the education and training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders and meet the standards of the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) are eligible for licensure.

What is the status of HB 4325?

HB 4325 (S-3) was passed unanimously out of the House Health Policy Committee on September 19, 2019.  The bill has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.  A hearing and vote is expected on October 2.  The bill will then be sent to the full House of Representatives for a vote.

How would the passage of HB 4325 affect the proposed rules?

HB 4325 negates altogether the need for LARA’s proposed rule by resolving the Attorney General’s question.  It would nullify the proposed rules if they were to go into effect.

Who is supporting HB 4325?

To date the following organizations have formally taking a position supporting HB 4325, and many more are expected to as future opportunities in the legislative process allow:

MMHCA (Michigan Mental Health Counselors Association)

MPCA (MI Primary Care Association)

MATCP (MI Association of Treatment Court Professionals)

NBCC (National Board for Certified Counselors)

MASW (MI Association of Social Workers)

MSCA (Middle School Counselors Association)

Central Michigan University

Eastern Michigan University

Oakland University

Spring Arbor University

University of Detroit-Mercy

Wayne State University

Western Michigan University

Hope Network

A few related other facts:

Our nation is facing a mental health crisis and there simply aren’t enough counselors and other mental health professionals to meet the burgeoning demand for services, according to a recent analysis by the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA).

HRSA estimates nationally we need to add 10,000 providers in each of seven separate mental healthcare professions by 2025 to meet the expected growth in demand.

In Michigan there are nearly 1.4 million adults with mental illness and 67,000 youth suffering from a major depressive episode.  The majority of these individuals are not receiving the care they need.

Costs are the reason nearly half of the adults are not receiving the treatment they need.  Mental health counselors are uniquely qualified to meet the challenges of providing high quality care in a cost-effective manner.

17 Comments

  1. Please let these therapist work!! Please let our mental health system help these people!!

    Reply
  2. I support LPCs to continue practicing in the State of Michigan. Clearly there is a need for the care of mental health illness in Michigan. If LARA will have its way there will be a catastrophic increase of untreated patients with mental health illness.

    Reply
  3. I strongly support LPC’s. I believe they make a difference in the lives of those who are in need of their help and knowledge. Mental health issue is definitely a crisis. I cannot imagine millions who who can be deprived of the care they need.

    Reply
  4. When would the House of Representatives vote?

    Reply
  5. Having graduated with my MA in Counseling, I understand clearly the importance of properly diagnosing. We did not have a class without using our DSM and even in our supervision hours we were drilled on how to properly diagnose and my education has prepared me as I am very confident in my practice.

    Reply
    • As a LLPC in Michigan, I am very concerned with this movement. I am very confident in my ability to accurately diagnose. My education has been very thorough.

      Reply
  6. Thanks for this explanation. I have a question. If HB 4325 passes, what about people that graduated from non-CACREP schools years ago? Will we be grandfathered in under this law?

    Reply
  7. I strongly oppose the proposed rules that will limit Licensed Professional Counselors from engaging in the full scope of their profession.  I do support proposed HB 4325.

    I am a Licensed Professional Counselor practicing in a group practice setting.  I have been practicing in this setting for approximately 12 years.  We are a psychotherapy practice comprised of Licensed Psychologists, LMSW providers and Professional Counselors.  Each provider currently has a waiting list for new patients.  Although the number of providers in our practice has nearly doubled in 12 years, we are still unable to accommodate all the patients needing services.  This is a common situation in our Midland area:  too few practitioners to serve those who are in need of and desiring services.  By limiting the scope of our practice as Professional Counselors, the shortage of providers will increase dramatically, State-wide.  This is certainly not the time to decrease mental health services!

    A student completing a graduate degree in an accredited Professional Counseling program, such as the one I attended, is required to thoroughly understand diagnoses, therapeutic interventions, and treatment planning.  This training and education occurs both in a classroom setting, as well as through practical application:  practicum and internship.  Subsequent to obtaining a graduate degree we are required to accrue 3,000 hours of practice under a fully licensed provider before becoming fully licensed ourselves.

    In the scope of my practice, I have successfully diagnosed and provided treatment to numerous individuals presenting with depression, anxiety, grief and loss, ADHD and life transitions.  I have counseled clients who are experiencing domestic violence. I have assessed for suicide and homicide. 

     
    If counselors are limited, mental health services in our State will suffer greatly.  As mentioned, this is not the time to reduce accessibility to these services. 

    Reply
  8. Thank you so much for continuing the intellectual aptitude in helping HB 4325 pass and continue to crucial care in helping Michigan’s citizens!

    Reply
  9. I do not understand how the State of Michigan’s Attorney General could allow this to happen to the 10,000 LPC’s in our State. Lets make sire HB4325 passes!

    Reply
  10. It is with a very heavy heart that I urge your committee to vote for HB4325 to stop the dissemination of an entire profession of LPC’s from serving our citizens, and practicing counseling. We have equal education as other mental health professionals. Many of us have years of additional training in specialties to provide help to our clients. It is unacceptable that an entire profession will loose the ability to earn an income, when a fair and intelligent solution could quickly be developed; namely HB4325. LPC’s are adequately qualified to provide cost-effective services as we have done since 1988. Thank you for supporting this bill.

    Reply
  11. I support the HB4325. Please let them work.

    Reply
  12. After teaching in a public school for 19 years as a special education teacher, I have worked as an LPC since 1993, working as a high school counselor for 20 years and as an adjunct community college counselor for 7 years. There is so much need for counselors to work in the mental health field in many venues. I definitely support HB4325 for all my colleagues.

    Reply
  13. The response to the meeting on October 4 was remarkable! We need to continue to rally and make the necessary changes legislatively so there is not a repeat of LARA’s proposed annihilation of services. And we need to support other professionals who are facing similar challenges with LARA. As a therapist who has practiced in three states for nearly 30 years, I can say the need for our services has never been greater.

    Reply
    • #YESvoteHB4325 #NOtoLARARuleChangesForLPCs #CounselorsAdvocate #MMHCA

      Reply
  14. I agree that as our country’s numbers of mentally ill people continues to grow, we CANNOT allow those who are serving this clientele to face limitations placed on their/our practices! What an enormous mistake this would become for Michigan!

    Reply
    • #YESvoteHB4325 #CounselorsAdvocate #MMHCA

      Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Sara Sue Schaeffer October 1, 2019 meeting notes for Preparing for Friday's Hearing - […] Please also refer to the FAQ document which can be found in another post on this website. Click Here.…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *