Exemptions to Licensure

December 9, 2014

Exemptions to Licensure

© Catherine L. Waltz, PhD, LCSW

July 17, 2014 –

Revised and Shared with Beginning Counselors of Florida on October 31, 2014

Frequently I am asked when providing continuing education on any of our required courses, “How do agencies (or programs) have unlicensed employees (or trainees) providing counseling services?”  There is confusion and concern about how this can happen and whether or not the practice is legal.  The practice is legal under the following circumstances.  An additional question is, “How can these agencies have registered interns providing services in settings where a qualified supervisor or other licensed mental health professional is not on site.

Our Practice Act, Florida Statute Chapter 491 addresses this matter directly in subsection 491.014 Exemptions.  The first three points address the fact that our Practice Act cannot limit the practice of certain professionals (and religious related service providers) licensed under various other chapters as long as they do not present themselves to the public as licensed in one of our professions (Licensed Clinical Social Work, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist or Licensed Mental Health Counselor) or use our protected titles as noted parenthetically above.

Then, the next section addresses the circumstances where individuals are not required to be licensed, provisionally licensed, registered, or certified under Chapter 491.  They are:

  • employees of governmental agencies,
  • developmental disability facilities and programs,
  • a mental health, alcohol, or drug abuse facility operating under chapter 393, chapter 394, or chapter 397;
  • the statewide child care resource and referral network operating under s.0101;
  • a child-placing or child-caring agency licensed pursuant to chapter 409;
  • a domestic violence center certified pursuant to chapter 39;
  • an accredited academic institution; or
  • a research institution

The statute further indicates that this exemption applies to the employee who is performing duties for which he or she was trained and hired solely within the confines of such agency, facility, or institution, so long as the employee is not held out to the public as a clinical social worker, mental health counselor, or marriage and family therapist.  What this does is extend our ‘title protection’ but not the licensure requirement.

This statute also allows counseling services provided via:

  • private, nonprofit organizations which provide counseling services to children, youth and families
  • masters social work, marriage and family and counseling students
  • non-resident providers who are licensed in other states but provide services in Florida 15 days or less a month, and
  • behavior analysts

Despite the breadth of situational exemptions, all these counseling providers are bound by subsection 491.012 wherein our professional titles are identified and protected.  Furthermore, they must meet the minimum standards of performance in professional activities when measured against generally prevailing peer performance, including the undertaking of activities for which the person is not qualified by training or experience.  This section does not indicate where one might file a complaint alleging unprofessional or other problematic behavior.  One could guess that there would be a complaint provision via a state contract for licensed facilities and programs or internal grievance or complaint procedures in other institutions.  Of course, if the behavior is illegal (i.e., sexual misconduct with a client), one could file a police report.

Private, nonprofit organizations which provide counseling services to children, youth and families frequently have contracts to provide in-home counseling and other similar services.  These organizations do not have to comply with the entirety of our practice act.  A practice act has direct bearing on each of us as individuals.

- Catherine L. Waltz, PhD, is an adjunct professor in the graduate program of the School of Social Work, Barry University.  She is a continuing education provider in the state of Florida providing courses on professional ethics, laws and rules, supervision, mental health error prevention and a specialist in domestic violence.  http://www.drwaltz.com/contact-us-2  The educational commentaries provided by Dr. Waltz do not constitute a legal opinion.  If legal advice is needed, it is recommended that contact be made with an attorney qualified in the jurisdiction in which you practice or is applicable to your case.  We recommend that you use your knowledge of the law and your code of ethics in conjunction with this information (and any other) when deciding upon a course of action.

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Eye on Florida Laws and Rules
What Is Supposed to Happen in an Hour of Supervision?
© Catherine L. Waltz, PhD, LCSW

November 19, 2014

Registered interns and licensed mental health professionals often want to know just what constitutes supervision.  Questions about supervision are posted online on Facebook and LinkedIn, emailed to me and sometimes I get a call from someone who wants to talk about a particular situation.  This article will address some of the expectations made clear and or implied by Florida Statutes Chapter 491 and Florida Administrative Code 64B4 (our practice rules).

One question that lingers in a local group for registered interns is, “What exactly counts as an “hour” towards licensure?”  Rule 64B4- 2.001 says two years of clinical experience consisting of at least 1500 hours of providing psychotherapy face-to-face with clients with supervision occurring in 100 hours.

I think that there a couple of informative questions that can help focus the discussion.  First, what is psychotherapy?  Clinical or psychotherapy practice includes several tasks and skills which are seen to develop over a period of time.  A registered intern is expected to learn how to apply their book knowledge in real life situations with clients.  The knowledge gained in course work lays the foundation for “describing, preventing, evaluating and treating individual, couples, marital, family, or group behavior” (F.S.491.003(7)).  Registered interns and seasoned clinicians are expected to be able to work with people to prevent and or treat undesired behavior and enhance a client’s mental health.  Registered interns’ experience is supposed include “assessment, diagnosis, treatment and evaluation of clients; providing at least 50% of the hours work consist of providing psychotherapy and counseling services directly to clients”. (F.S.491.003(3)).  The statutes define “clinical social work experience”, “the practice of marriage and family therapy”, and the practice of mental health counseling with essentially the same language.  Generally our practice also includes methods to evaluate, assess, diagnose and treat emotional and mental dysfunctions or disorders (whether cognitive, affective, or behavioral), behavioral disorders, interpersonal relationships, sexual dysfunction, alcoholism, and substance abuse.  Our professional areas of practice (clinical social work services, marriage and family therapy and mental health counselling) include, but are not limited to, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy and sex therapy, counseling, behavior modification, consultation, client-centered advocacy, crisis intervention, and providing necessary information or education to clients (F.S.491.003(7); (F.S.491.003(8); (F.S.491.003(9)).  An implication of these sections of law is that registered interns who are working in non-clinically focused jobs would not be eligible for a clinical license.

Next, “What exactly is supervision?  Supervision occurs in face-to-face meetings between a registered intern and his or her qualified supervisor.”  The statutes and rules indicate that a minimum of 100 hours1 of supervision is required to supervise the registered intern as they accrue their 1500 hours of psychotherapy practice (also referred to as clinical practice or services) in order to qualify for licensure (Rule 64B4- 2.002).  During those meeting between registered intern and qualified supervisor a primary function of the supervision is to develop a  supervisory relationship that promotes the development of responsibility, skills, knowledge, attitudes and adherence to ethical, legal and regulatory standards in …practice (64B4-2.002).  During these face-to-face meetings the intern is expected to apprise the supervisor of the diagnosis and treatment of each client, client cases are discussed, the supervisor provides the intern with oversight and guidance in diagnosing, treating and dealing with clients, and the supervisor evaluates the intern’s performance.  Similar to psychotherapy, supervision also can be observed to be developmental.  Some academics and researchers have written about the “beginning, middle and end” stages of psychotherapy.  There is a comparable process that occurs in supervision.  The beginning anxiety and uncertain and sometime overconfidence morphs into more stability and confidence as the supervisory relationship develops and the new clinician gains strength and a balance of knowledge with intervention skills.

When I supervise, I tend to think of supervision as a process by which I am a collaborator with the intern in their development of a professional persona as well as deepening their understanding of human behavior while they work to master the skills it takes to “be present” with human beings who are hurting.  It is a special role and relationship and one that I treasure.

Notes:
1If the intern attends group supervision (only three to six registered interns) it must alternate with individual supervision (one or two registered interns meeting at the same time.).

– Catherine L. Waltz, PhD, is an adjunct professor in the graduate program of the School of Social Work, Barry University.  She is a continuing education provider in the state of Florida providing courses on professional ethics, laws and rules, supervision, mental health error prevention and a specialist in domestic violence.  http://drwaltz.corecommerce.com/Workshops-At-A-Glance-15.html  The educational commentaries provided by Dr. Waltz do not constitute a legal opinion.  If legal advice is needed, it is recommended that contact be made with an attorney qualified in the jurisdiction in which you practice or is applicable to your case.  We recommend that you use your knowledge of the law and your code of ethics in conjunction with this information (and any other) when deciding upon a course of action.

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IMPORTANT UPDATE! For: “I want to start a private practice. What do I need to know?”

October 30, 2014

© Catherine L. Waltz, PhD, LCSW October 29, 2014 This post updates the information previously posted on October 19th based on statutes that are in the process of being changed.  Registered Interns should read this commentary thoroughly.  The prior post has been edited and out-dated information deleted. I’m a Registered Intern; can I have a […]

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I want to start a private practice. What do I need to know?

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© Catherine L. Waltz, PhD, LCSW October 19, 2014, revised October 29, 2014 I’ve been licensed and working for a while but I really want to be in private practice.  What do I need do first?  I’m a Registered Intern; can I have a private practice? These questions and others have been posed to me […]

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New Course in November – Grief and Mourning

September 29, 2014

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September 11, 2014

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8-hour versus 3-hour Florida Laws and Rules Courses

August 11, 2014

August 11, 2014 Are you confused about the different Laws and Rules courses?  3-Hours versus 8-Hours?  Online versus Live? This commentary is intended to help clarify the current expectations associated with the relevant rules. Rule 64B4-3.0035 requires that applicants for licensure must demonstrate knowledge of the laws and rules for licensure by attending an eight […]

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What teaching means to me despite trials and tribulations. . .

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I love teaching. I love the sharing of knowledge and challenges between the students and me. One of my strongest values which underlies all that I do is to promote a positive image for the profession and help new social workers develop professionally. Teaching social work courses is my newest way of doing that. Classroom […]

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Registered Intern’s Professional Identity and Compliance – A new twist!

May 13, 2014

Really! There is no legal acronym for registered interns use.  I swear it is true. Last month I wrote about the increasing use of an illegal acronym by registered interns which I had noticed in a group on LinkedIn.  Within two days of that article being published in a variety of settings I received a […]

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There is no such thing as RCSWI, RMHCI, RMFTI !

April 28, 2014

There is no legal acronym for Registered Interns under F. S. 491 in the State of Florida. Registered Interns must spell out their registration status as noted in our Rules Chapter 64B4 – 5.005(j) Failure of a registered intern to use the words “registered intern” on all promotional materials, including cards, brochures, stationery, advertisements, and […]

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