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MaMHCA: Massachusetts Mental Health Counselors Association


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Relevant LMHC Practice Updates

AMHCA Establishes Diplomate Program

The American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA), is the first association to recognize both advanced practice and professional clinical expertise in clinical mental health counseling. Increasingly, both the public and insurance providers are looking for qualified clinical mental health counselors who have acquired cutting-edge training and clinical abilities. Advanced practice clinical counselors with specialist skills are in increasing demand. 

The Diplomate will be awarded in seven specialty areas: Child and Adolescent Counseling, Couples Counseling, Developmental Disability Counseling, Family Counseling, Geriatric Counseling, Substance Abuse & Co-occurring Disorders, and Trauma Counseling. 

The AMHCA Diplomate and Clinical Mental Health Specialist credential was developed over the course of two years and was approved by the AMHCA Board of Directors.

First AMHCA Diplomates Awarded!

For the first time, AMHCA awarded the Diplomate and Clinical Mental Health Specialist (DCMHS) credential at the July 2012 Annual Conference in July in Orlando FL. Twenty AMHCA members from around the country (including 2 from Massachusetts) received their DCMHS in one or more of the seven specialty areas designated.

LMHCs Admitted to TRICARE Panels

TRICARE Rules Released Authorizing Independent Practice for "CMHCs." Long-awaited TRICARE rules authorizing independent practice for "Certified Mental Health Counselors" (“CMHCs” which means LMHCs in Massachusetts) were released in the Federal Register, December 27, 2011, 32 CFR Part 199. The new rules advance mental health counselor provider participation requirements from working under the supervision and referral of a physician to autonomous practice and third-party reimbursement.

The rule, released in interim final form, establishes a transition period to phase out the requirement for physician referral and supervision for mental health counselors and creates a new category of allied health professional known as "certified mental health counselors" (CMHCs). Once phased in, CMHCs will be the only authorized mental health counselors to participate under TRICARE. The provider standards will be fully in force on January 1, 2015, meaning that all CMHCs that want to serve TRICARE beneficiaries must qualify under the new rules by December 31, 2014. The new rules include a critical grandfather provision for current practitioners, and also rapidly accelerate national movement toward CACREP accreditation for clinical mental health counseling programs.

Employment of Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs and LMHCs) as Fully Functioning Army Substance Abuse Program Practitioners 

On July 26, 2011, Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh signed Army Directive 2011-09, Employment of Licensed Professional Counselors as Fully Functioning Army Substance Abuse Program Practitioners.  This directive authorizes “the Army Substance Abuse Program to employ licensed professional counselors and licensed mental health counselors as independent practitioners with a well-defined scope of practice.”

The directive also establishes credentialing and privileging standards for licensed counselors who seek employment through the Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP). The criteria include the following: 

  • Successful completion of a master’s degree in counseling from a regionally accredited college or university that has its counseling program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP) (Counselors who are already employed with ASAP or who have already entered the application process for an ASAP counseling position prior to the effective date of the directive do not have to meet the accreditation requirement.) 

  • Possession of a state license as a professional counselor or mental health counselor 

  • Achievement of the highest clinical level offered by their state licensure board 

  • Passage of the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination

The directive became effective upon signature by Secretary of the Army McHugh on July 26, 2011. 
 
The directive is a temporary policy that allows counselors to practice independently until the TRICARE regulations are completed as directed by the FY 2011 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 111-383).