Increase Floridian's Access to Qualified Mental Health Professionals

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WHEREAS, Governor Scott declared on February 23, 2018 "We must expand mental health service teams statewide to serve youth and young adults with early or serious mental illness by providing counseling, crisis management and other critical mental health services."

WHEREAS, Senator Galvano declared on February 15, 2018 "“We have to address the things that we can take immediate action on that aren’t steeped in controversy, such as being more aggressive on mental health and illness."

WHEREAS, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness's latest state report, Florida ranks 49th in mental health funding.

WHEREAS, "The Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling was legislatively established to ensure that every clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, and mental health counselor practicing in this state meet minimum requirements for safe practice."

WHEREAS, "The Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling is responsible for licensing, monitoring, disciplining and educating clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, and mental health counselors to assure competency and safety to practice in Florida."

WHEREAS, Florida is currently in the minority of States that designates new graduates with Masters Degrees or Doctorates in the fields of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy as "Registered Interns" (FS 491.003(14), (15), and (16)).

WHEREAS, the majority of States designate such trained mental health professionals as "Licensed Associates" (https://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/Content/directories/MFT_licensing_boards.aspx

WHEREAS, the term “Intern” negatively impacts all of Florida's trained mental health professionals who have not yet met the requirements for final and permanent licensure in terms of the public’s view of their status, capabilities and skills.

WHEREAS, the term "Intern" gives an impression that the mental health professional is still a student, not trained, holds a temporary license or is not capable to practice in the State of Florida working with children, teens and adults.

WHEREAS, FS 491.005(14), (15), and (16) provides “A licensed mental health professional must be on the premises when clinical services are provided by a registered intern in a private practice setting.”

WHEREAS, this requirement places an undue and unfair burden on Florida's mental health professionals who serve the public by providing mental health services in a private practice setting.

WHEREAS, this requirement is unnecessary and a duplicative requirement since “Registered Interns” are already required to have a Licensed and Approved Supervisor for the two years they are working on their full licensure.

WHEREAS, this requirement unfairly, unequally and arbitrarily treats Florida's “Registered Interns” who choose to practice in a private practice setting differently than those “Registered Interns” who work for in an agency, school, not-for-profit or religious based setting.

WHEREAS, under current law, “Registered Interns” who perform mental health services in an agency, school, not-for-profit or religious based setting - who possess the same skill, education and training as a "Registered Intern" who performs mental health services in a private practice setting - are exempt from the requirement that “a licensed mental health professional must be on the premises when clinical services are provided by a registered intern in a private practice setting.”

WHEREAS, under current law, “Registered Interns” who perform mental health services in an agency, school, not-for-profit or religious based setting - who possess the same skill, education and training as a "Registered Intern" who performs mental health services in a private practice setting - are permitted to perform mental health services in a private client's home or in a school or in an agency - without the requirement that “a licensed mental health professional must be on the premises.”

WHEREAS, there is no logical purpose to treat similarly situated “Registered Interns” differently simply because one chooses to provide services to Floridians in a private setting and another provides the same type of service in a home or office with no licensed person present.

THEREFORE, Florida's dedicated and devoted "Registered Interns" respectfully request that Florida Statutes be amended to change the title "Registered Intern" to "Licensed Associate Therapist/Social Worker/Mental Health Counselor" or "Registered Associate Therapist/Social Worker/Mental Health Counselor" or other similar title.

THEREFORE, Florida's dedicated and devoted "Registered Interns" respectfully request that Florida Statutes be amended to eliminate the requirement that  "Registered Interns" who provide mental health services in private practice no longer be required to ensure that “a licensed mental health professional must be on the premises” so long as they have a Licensed and Approved Supervisor on file with the The Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling.



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