The North Carolina Board of Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselors (NCBLCMHC) is proposing a name change a) to further define and clarify our professional identity, b) to be in concert with the nomenclature used by National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC), American Mental Health Counseling Association (AMHCA), and Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and c) to align ourselves with the nomenclature being used in the Medicare provider recognition bills for mental health counselors namely, S. 1879 and H.R. 3032. These bills, if made into law, would allow Medicare enrollees access to medically necessary covered services provided by mental health counselors who are properly trained and licensed to deliver such services.
The Board staff researched the licensure names, education requirements, endorsement requirements, supervision requirements, etc., of the other 49 states and found that the majority (n=27) of the states’ licensure names differed from Licensed Professional Counselor. Specifically, 15 states have identified themselves as mental health counselors by the following licensure names: Clinical Mental Health Counselor, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner, Professional Clinical Mental Health Counselor, Licensed Professional Counselor—Mental Health Service Provider and Licensed Professional Counselor of Mental Health.
Finally, the American Mental Health Counselors Association’s (2016) wrote a white paper entitled The Professional Identity of Clinical Mental Health Counselors, which outlines the reasons for the need for clarification for the name for professional counselors. Further, the Licensed Professional Counselor Association of North Carolina is the state chapter of AMHCA and they have adopted the identity of Clinical Mental Health Counselors. We hope to have our license name specifically reflect that identity as well.
We have consulted various counselors and counselor leaders and they have submitted questions about the name change and we have given our answers to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for the name change. We hope that our answers provide clarity and an understanding of the rationale for the name change. We look forward to serving the citizens of our great state!
It is estimated that approximately 10-15% of all healthcare professionals, including Licensed Professional Counselors, will misuse drugs or alcohol at some time during their career (Baldisseri, 2007), and approximately 18% of the general population of adults experience mental illness each year (NAMI, 2012). While these rates of mental illness and substance abuse/dependence reflect those of the general population, the prevalence is of particular concern because Licensed Professional Counselors are responsible for the mental health of the clients and the public they serve in North Carolina. The opiate crisis is unquestionably a serious threat to the health and lives of North Carolinians (N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, 2019). Healthcare professionals have higher rates of abuse of opiates and benzodiazepines than the general population. It is further understood that licensed professional counseling is a stressful occupation and that licensed counselors experience burnout, compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma as they seek to provide mental health services to those suffering from psychological, psychiatric and substance abuse disorders. North Carolina lacks the Health Care/Impaired Professional Counselor Program that Virginia and South Carolina have established to assist Licensed Professional Counselors in initiating and maintaining recovery from substance abuse, mental health or other difficulties that if left untreated, could negatively affect the ability to safely fulfill the duties of their profession.
Therefore, we hope to enact legislation to authorize the Board to establish a Health Care/Impaired Professional Counselor Program, or to grant the Board the authority to enter into agreements with existing professional health care programs to provide evaluation and intervention, referral, case management, education, advocacy, and support for those counselors identified as being impaired, either through self-referral or referral by the Board, colleagues, supervisors, family members, and others. The Program will allow impairment prevention and resiliency education for all Licensed Professional Counselors, provide access to services for impaired counselors before ethical concerns arise, and address the stigma associated with seeking mental health or substance abuse treatment among counselors.
There is a national movement among licensing boards of Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselors to make licensure between states easier to secure. With our fluid society, the advancement of technology and the emergence of “distance counseling”, it is increasingly clear of the importance of counseling across state lines. For example, in North Carolina, 41 of the 100 counties border other states. A North Carolina Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor is prohibited (other than very short term contact) from counseling across state lines without a license in an adjoining state. This condition also exists for Virginia, Tennessee and South Carolina.
Therefore, we hope to enact legislation that will allow The North Carolina Board of Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselors to enter into reciprocity agreements with other states with similar licensure requirements. The first objective would be to attempt negotiations with our contiguous states. An additional objective would be to negotiate agreements with other states, especially those east of the Mississippi River.
If you have any questions about the legislative proposal, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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