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Hearing on proposed mental health rules changes

Mental Health
Posted at 8:40 AM, Oct 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-04 08:40:54-04

LANSING, Mich. — People will have a chance Friday morning to make their concerns heard about new licensing rules that could have an impact on mental health care.

The proposed rules could stop licensed counselors from diagnosing and treating patients.

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) is considering changing the rules for counselors so that they can no longer diagnose patients or use psychotherapy techniques.

That means they cannot diagnose or use psychotherapy.

A public hearing is scheduled to happen at 9 a.m.

Counselors are concerned for several reasons.

Chris DeBoer, a licensed professional counselor in Okemos said that if he can't diagnose patients, then he can't treat them.

"I signed a five-year lease on this place. If those proposed changes go through, my scope of practice basically becomes nothing," said DeBoer.

DeBoer opened Red Cedar Relationship Counseling in March, but he's worried that if the state redefines the work counselors are allowed to do, he'll be forced to close.

"I can't counsel because our ethics requires us to be able to diagnose for us to be able to treat."

The problem is that state law doesn't allow counselors to diagnose or use psychotherapy. The state says many counselors don't realize that and have been misinterpreting the rules for years.

The proposed change would make licensing rules and the law match up, but DeBoer says it won't allow him to do what he's been trained to do.

"They say that this is what you have to be trained in as a counselor, but you're not allowed to do it and so in that case, what is our scope of practice? What are we being licensed to do?"

There is a possible solution. Experts say that House Bill 4325 would allow counselors to continue making diagnoses.

If that bill passes, it would override the licensing rules for counselors.

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