Legislative Updates

Senate Bill 837 signed by Governor

TITLE PROTECTION EXPANDED FOR LICENSED MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPISTS

June 23, 2016

SB 837 adds language to our licensing law to protect the title of marriage and family therapist from use by untrained, unlicensed and unsupervised individuals.

Exemptions:
The legislation exempts the following classes of people:

  • Licensed professionals who provide these services within their scope of practice. This means that the board can hear cases of unethical or unprofessional behavior or activities under their existing professional license.
  • AAMFT Clinical Fellows licensed as another mental health professional with all the MFT training.
  • Students and interns in training and under supervision.
  • Those under supervision who have completed the educational requirements and are working on clinical hours for licensure.
  • The groups already excluded under state law: clergy or as an employee of an educational, non-profit or governmental agency determined by the board to meet the community needs while performing the duties for which the person was employed

 

Senate Bill 837, was signed into law today by Governor Wolf. This bill sponsored by Senator Aument, expands title protection to marriage and family therapists, ensuring that only licensed and properly trained professionals can market their services to clients. The bill mirrors House Bill 603, introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep Grove.

The current law requires “marriage and family therapists to meet extensive training, education and testing requirements in order to properly treat a wide variety of mental and emotional disorders that can strain family relationships”. Previously, individuals who lack the proper training and licensing can exploit a loophole by marketing their services as “couple’s therapy,” “family therapy” and similar titles.

This law ensures that only those therapists who meet the minimum training, education and licensing requirements can provide those services. This ensures that when couples and families reach out for help, they will be with trained clinicians and in the end this will protect our PA consumers.

Also included in this bill is a confirmation on the “swing seat” on the State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Profession Counselors to require this seat to rotate between a marriage and family therapist and a professional counselor at the end of a two-year term. Marriage and Family Therapists maintains two seats as does the Professional Counsels with a third “swing seat” now clearly identified.

If you are a Marriage and Family Therapist living in their legislative districts this would be a good time to introduce yourself to them, and thank them for their protection of your discipline and the consumers in their districts.

 

 

Once again, you can visit the following website to find your state representative: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/