Counseling in the USA  

 

Note: this page does not constitute professional advice. You should seek advice from a qualified professional before embarking on a course of action.  

Once “the land of the free”, the USA is now “the land of the restrictive practices”.   In many US states, you need to be licensed by the State in order to practice as a “counselor” or “therapist”.  

The requirements vary by State, so check your State’s statutes. Here is a state-by-state list: http://www.aascb.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=16  

If your State controls the practice of counseling or the use of the word “counselor”, you could:  

1. Undertake extra training. Some states require 3000+ supervised clinical experience hours. And some counsellors find this difficult to meet this requirement.

2. Call yourself an adviser or a coach. This may not be acceptable in some states.

3. Relocate to a state that doesn’t have controls.  


Excerpt from Florida’s statute. We include this here to demonstrate how specific the rules can be.

8)  The "practice of marriage and family therapy" is defined as the use of scientific and applied marriage and family theories, methods, and procedures for the purpose of describing, evaluating, and modifying marital, family, and individual behavior, within the context of marital and family systems, including the context of marital formation and dissolution, and is based on marriage and family systems theory, marriage and family development, human development, normal and abnormal behavior, psychopathology, human sexuality, psychotherapeutic and marriage and family therapy theories and techniques.

The practice of marriage and family therapy includes methods of a psychological nature used to evaluate, assess, diagnose, treat, and prevent emotional and mental disorders or dysfunctions (whether cognitive, affective, or behavioral), sexual dysfunction, behavioral disorders, alcoholism, and substance abuse.

The practice of marriage and family therapy includes, but is not limited to, marriage and family therapy, psychotherapy, including behavioral family therapy, hypnotherapy, and sex therapy. The practice of marriage and family therapy also includes counseling, behavior modification, consultation, client-centered advocacy, crisis intervention, and the provision of needed information and education to clients, when using methods of a psychological nature to evaluate, assess, diagnose, treat, and prevent emotional and mental disorders and dysfunctions (whether cognitive, affective, or behavioral), sexual dysfunction, behavioral disorders, alcoholism, or substance abuse.

The practice of marriage and family therapy may also include clinical research into more effective psychotherapeutic modalities for the treatment and prevention of such conditions.

(a)  Marriage and family therapy may be rendered to individuals, including individuals affected by termination of marriage, to couples, whether married or unmarried, to families, or to groups.

(b)  The use of specific methods, techniques, or modalities within the practice of marriage and family therapy is restricted to marriage and family therapists appropriately trained in the use of such methods, techniques, or modalities.

(c)  The terms "diagnose" and "treat," as used in this chapter, when considered in isolation or in conjunction with any provision of the rules of the board, shall not be construed to permit the performance of any act which marriage and family therapists are not educated and trained to perform, including, but not limited to, admitting persons to hospitals for treatment of the foregoing conditions, treating persons in hospitals without medical supervision, prescribing medicinal drugs as defined in chapter 465, authorizing clinical laboratory procedures pursuant to chapter 483, or radiological procedures, or use of electroconvulsive therapy. In addition, this definition shall not be construed to permit any person licensed, provisionally licensed, registered, or certified pursuant to this chapter to describe or label any test, report, or procedure as "psychological," except to relate specifically to the definition of practice authorized in this subsection.

(d)  The definition of "marriage and family therapy" contained in this subsection includes all services offered directly to the general public or through organizations, whether public or private, and applies whether payment is requested or received for services rendered.

 

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