February 15, 2017

A number of law or rule changes  and proposed bills are in process as I write.  Language revisions in our practice act, F. S. 491, have an impact on Registered Interns, Marriage and Family Therapists and Mental Health Counselors, and Certified Social Workers.

First, Registered Interns, are probably aware of the recent change that limits the time that one can remain a Registered Intern.  Language change in F. S. 491.045(6) will allow the board to make a one-time exception for a person who has not yet met all of the licensure requirements within the 5 year/60 month time frame in the case of emergency or hardship cases (which will be defined in our Rules B4).

Next, 491.005(3)(c) corrects a typographical error where 3 years of experience was noted when the actual years of experience referred to is 2.

And, 491.005(4) clarifies the name of the national licensure exam for mental health counselors to the “National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination”, an examination managed by the national Board of Certified Counselors or its successor. and removes language referring to the Professional Examination Service and the National Academy of Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselors.

Finally, in F. S. 491 the following modification is reported for 491.009 Discipline. –

…(2) The board department, or, in the case of  certified master social workers 1psychologists, the department  board, may enter an order denying licensure or imposing any of the penalties in s. 456.072(2) against any applicant for licensure or licensee who is found guilty of violating any provision of subsection (1) of this section or who is found guilty of violating any provision of s. 456.072(1).

House Bill 273 and Senate Bill 578 are related to ‘Conversion Therapy’.  The text of the Bills defines ‘Conversion Therapy’ in a proposed section of F. S. Chapter 456 as “any practice or treatment performed with the goal of changing an individual’s sexual orientation, including, but not limited to, efforts to changes behavior, gender identity, or gender expression, or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attraction or feelings toward a person of the same gender.  “Conversion Therapy” does not include professional counseling that is supportive of a person undergoing gender transition or which provides acceptance, support and understanding and guidance, among other issues, as long as the goal of the counseling is not to change the individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.  A professional licensed under our F. S. Chapter 491 (nor any other licensed health professionals) may NOT practice or perform ‘Conversion Therapy’ with an individual younger than 18 years old.

Senator Campbell has proposed a Senate Bill  that is not yet entitled regarding Music Therapists.  Proposed is language that acknowledges  that music therapy affects the health, safety and well being of the public.  Further, the practice of music therapists should be regulated and practitioners ‘registered’.  Defined are Board Certified Music Therapist, Music Therapist, and Music Therapy.  This proposed section of law creates a new segment in our practice act as F.S. 491.017 and essentially establishes a registration of music therapy practitioners within the purview of our Board, Laws and Rules.

Finally, revisions to the overall health profession’s rules promulgated out of the general provisions of F. S. 456 are being made in 64B8-9.0141 Standards for Telemedicine Practice .  It is likely that this standard will begin to further influence laws and rules guiding Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling.

– 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 preventionlegalscales and a specialist in domestic violence.  Workshops At A Glance

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 and any other information when deciding upon your course of action.