PA 17-94—sSB 903

Public Health Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING EDUCATIONAL AND PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS FOR PROFESSIONAL COUNSELORS

SUMMARY: This act establishes new qualifications for professional counselor licensure, starting in 2019. For example, it requires applicants to have a graduate degree from a (1) program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or (2) regionally accredited program and meet other requirements similar to existing CACREP standards (e.g., a practicum and a clinical internship of specified hours).

The act also requires that (1) an applicant's postgraduate degree experience occur over at least a two-year period, rather than at least one year as under existing requirements, and (2) the supervisor of that experience be licensed in Connecticut.

In some circumstances, the act allows applicants who were enrolled in a graduate program on or before July 1, 2017 to apply for licensure under the existing requirements when the new requirements take effect in 2019.

Starting in 2018, the act also requires professional counselors' continuing education to include three contact hours in professional ethics annually.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017

1 & 3 — QUALIFICATIONS FOR PROFESSIONAL COUNSELOR LICENSURE

The act generally sets forth new qualifications for professional counselor licensure, starting on January 1, 2019. Tables 1 and 2 describe the existing requirements and the act's new requirements for (1) education and coursework and (2) postgraduate degree professional counseling experience.

Table 1: Required Graduate Degree and Coursework

Requirements until January 1, 2019

Requirements starting January 1, 2019

Master's or doctoral degree in social work, marriage and family therapy, counseling, psychology, or a related mental health field, from a regionally accredited higher education institution, and

60 graduate semester hours in counseling or a related field at such a regionally accredited institution, including coursework in each of the following:

human growth and development

social and cultural foundations

counseling theories and techniques or helping relationships

group dynamics

processing and counseling

career and lifestyle development

appraisals or tests and measurements for individuals and groups

research and evaluation

professional orientation to counseling

Graduate degree in clinical mental health counseling from a program accredited by CACREP or a successor organization. (For most specialty areas, CACREP requires 60 graduate semester hours. CACREP requires programs to cover eight common core areas, many of which overlap with the topics below. CACREP also requires a 100-hour practicum and 600-hour internship.)

Alternatively, a prospective licensee must satisfy the following requirements:

(1) Graduate degree in counseling or a related mental health field (defined as social work, marriage and family therapy, or psychology) from a regionally accredited higher education institution;

(2) 60 graduate semester hours in counseling or a related mental health field at such a regionally accredited institution, including coursework in each of the following:

human growth and development

social and cultural foundations

counseling theories

counseling techniques

group counseling

career counseling

appraisals or tests and measurements to individuals and groups

research and evaluation

professional orientation to mental health counseling

addiction and substance abuse counseling

trauma and crisis counseling

diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders;

(3) 100-hour practicum in counseling; and

(4) 600-hour clinical mental health counseling internship.

The practicum and internship must each be taught by a faculty member licensed or certified as a professional counselor or its equivalent in another state.

Table 2: Required Postgraduate Degree Professional Counseling Experience

Requirements Until January 1, 2019

Requirements Starting January 1, 2019

3,000 hours of supervised experience over at least a one-year period

Must include at least 100 hours of direct supervision by a professional counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist, advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) certified as a clinical specialist in adult psychiatric and mental health nursing by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, marital and family therapist, or clinical social worker

The supervisor must be (1) licensed in Connecticut or (2) licensed or certified in another jurisdiction with practice requirements substantially similar to, or higher than, those in Connecticut

3,000 hours of experience under professional supervision over at least a two-year period

Must include at least 100 hours of experience under “direct professional supervision” (see definition below under Supervision Requirement)

Professional supervision must be from the same list of professionals as under the existing requirements, with two exceptions:

(1) the supervisor must be licensed in Connecticut and

(2) if the supervisor is an APRN, he or she must be certified as a psychiatric and mental health clinical nurse specialist or nurse practitioner (instead of certified as a clinical specialist in adult psychiatric and mental health nursing)

Under the existing requirements and the act, an applicant also generally must pass an examination prescribed by the Department of Public Health (DPH) commissioner.

As under the existing requirements, the act allows applicants licensed or certified outside Connecticut to substitute three years of such work experience for the act's requirements of post-degree supervised experience. The act also continues to allow for licensure by endorsement under specified conditions.

Supervision Requirement

Under the act's new requirements, an applicant's postgraduate degree supervised professional counseling experience must include 100 hours of experience under “direct professional supervision.” The act defines this term as face-to-face consultation between one supervisor and the individual, consisting of at least a monthly review with the supervisor's written evaluation and assessment of the individual's practice. The supervisor must be a state-licensed professional who is a professional counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist, APRN certified as a psychiatric and mental health clinical nurse specialist or nurse practitioner, marital and family therapist, or clinical social worker.

Exception for Certain Applicants

The act's changes to licensure qualifications apply on and after January 1, 2019. But in certain circumstances, the act allows an applicant to apply for licensure under the existing requirements after that date. This is the case if the applicant:

1. on or before July 1, 2017, was a matriculating student in good standing in a graduate program at a regionally accredited higher education institution in one of the fields that qualified under the existing requirements and

2. cannot reasonably complete the existing requirements before January 1, 2019, as determined by the DPH commissioner.

2 — CONTINUING EDUCATION

Existing law requires the DPH commissioner to adopt regulations on professional counselors' continuing education, including certain mandatory topics. Under the act, the regulations must require at least three contact hours on professional ethics each annual registration period, starting on and after January 1, 2018.

Existing regulations generally require professional counselors to complete 15 contact hours of continuing education during each annual registration period, starting with the second license renewal (Conn. Agency Regs., 20-195cc-2 and -6).

BACKGROUND

CACREP Accreditation Standards

CACREP accredits master's level and doctoral programs in counseling and related specialties. The 2016 CACREP accreditation standards comprise six sections, including:

1. the learning environment,

2. professional counseling identity (including the curriculum and the eight core content areas),

3. professional practice (including practicum and internship requirements),

4. evaluation in the program,

5. entry-level specialty areas, and

6. doctoral standards for counselor education and supervision.