Legislation Update by Scott Carter

16 Nov 2018 9:24 AM | Web Administrator (Administrator)

Most people that have earned their CMHC license in Utah would likely agree that they feel like they are at a bit of a disadvantage professionally. Undeniably, the CMHC’s have struggled to establish their presence and their identity in the mental health communities. The Legislative and Public Policy Committee (LPPC) at UMHCA is the committee that is engaging in the leg work that will help the CMHC’s establish professional equity with their professional peers. We continue to find the rules and codes that were written before the CMHC’s became established. We’re actively working to address those rules and codes and are petitioning to have them changed so that the CMHC’s won’t have to remain on the fringes perpetually. 

The fact of the matter is, nobody cares about the success of the CMHC professionals more than those that hold that license. If UMHCA doesn’t spearhead and tackles these tasks, nobody will. Our profession won’t advance if we are not actively engaging in efforts to ensure our success. What we want and need others to understand is that there are complicated processes involved and we are working to establish a system that will help us address these discrepancies with the most effectiveness and efficiency as possible. Our goal is to establish ourselves as a virtual powerhouse when it comes to legislation and public policy. Our goal is to establish a routine approach that consists of:

  1. Identifying the problem or need that is causing issues for CMHC’s.
  2. Find the specific ruling or line of code that is written.
  3. Draft proposed replacement paragraphs.
  4. Approve those drafts through the committee and UMHCA.
  5. Approach the necessary governing body, in most cases DOPL, with the drafts and request that the new rules and codes be permanently adopted. 

Most CMHC’s are not aware that we, as an organization, have been directly affected by the failure to address these discrepancies in the rules and codes with child custody evaluations. When the original code was written, it did not explicitly include our license. A family commissioner made the ruling that CMHC’s could not perform this duty because we were not directly specified being able to do this even though we are certainly just as qualified as an LCSW or an LMFT. We have been working for at least two and a half years to get the ruling changed. Even though the process has been difficult and frustrating, it has provided some invaluable lessons. We have learned that we must be proactive in addressing these issues before we are forced to go the long route and go through the Utah supreme court. 

UMHCA is working to establish itself as the main governing body when it comes to the CMHC profession. The LPPC committee is working on the issue with child custody evaluations and a few others:

  • Direct versus indirect hours - Those with an associates license status are finding themselves at the mercy of their employer to determine what can be counted as direct and indirect hours and we are working to draft the specific stipulations on these hours so that the associates have the support they need when earning their licensure hours.
  • Certified clinical supervisors - We believe that CMHC’s will gain more credibility in the mental health community if they have a process for becoming a certified supervisor. The benefit for doing this will also be that the certified supervisors will be able to supervise more CMHC’s.
  • Online CEU’s - Those with an LCSW license can acquire 15 continuing education units online, but the CMHC’s are only able to acquire 10. In the information age, we would like to enable CMHC’s to get 15 of their credits online. 
  • Insurance reimbursement - We recognize that CMHC’s are sometimes left out of insurance reimbursements because insurance companies do not recognize the legitimacy of our license. This dynamic needs to change.
  • Employment denial - Organizations like the VA do not hire CMHC’s. Again, this is one of those battles that UMHCA must fight because nobody will care about this issue as much as we will.

We are also aware that members of the professional community have many more items of concern and importance to them but the truth is that we have limited levels of personal engagement, we just don’t have enough people to help us do the needed leg work. We are in need of those that are interested in being involved in these issues and want to extend an invitation for professionals who are interested in advancing their careers and their experience by getting involved with the LPPC. We need individuals to help us:

  • Reach out to our local legislators and help us build positive relationships with them. 
  • Attend DOPL meetings to represent UMHCA.
  • Help us find the written rules and codes and help us draft replacements. 

By improving our legitimacy in the mental health communities, we can better serve our populations.

Scott M Carter, CMHC

Utah Mental Health Counselors Association is Utah's hub for enhancing the profession of mental health counselors. 
UMHCA is a 501(c)6 organization.
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