DOH Work Group - Summer 2007

17 Jul 2007 8:58 PM | Tim Livingston (Administrator)
DOH Work Group - Summer 2007 - At the end of the 2007 legislative session we had succeeded in stopping a bill that would have put thousands of private practice counselors out of business and would have eliminated protection for clients.  Now we have a chance to work together with the Department of Health, the Legislature, the Governor, and our colleagues to create legislation that will succeed in improving the Registered Counselor credential and maintain protection for clients.

Next Step is the Department of Health (DOH) work group. At the end of the 2007 legislative session $147,000 was put in the DOH budget

"to convene a work group to develop recommendations regarding the need to regulate those individuals currently registered with the Department as counselors. The Department will submit the recommendations of the work group to the Legislature and Governor by November 15, 2007.  Based on the recommendations of the work group, DOH will draft credential guideline for all registered counselors by January 1, 2008."

Washington Professional Counselors Association has submitted our requests and concerns to the DOH in detail.  These include:
  • making sure the upcoming work group has members who actually know something about private practice RC's (not just what they read in the papers) and who want to create practical new standards relevant to our profession.
  • a new survey that is designed to yield real information about who RC's are and what we do and not define us according to what we are not - not licensed, not planning to be licensed, etc.
  • increased public participation - we want a more open process where members of the public, especially RC's, can contribute meaningfully to the work group.
  • no recommendations from the work group based on hearsay and assumptions - this time these ideas have to be backed up by accurate data on RC's.  (WaProCA has put in a public information request to the DOH for information on RC's who have violations - we have gotten very little so far.)
  • an emphasis on what the DOH can do to educate the public regarding counseling services. Our view is that so far the DOH has done almost nothing in this regard in the past 20 years.

Washington Professional Counselors Association has been officially invited to the work group, and in fact we are now seen by the DOH, the Legislature, and the Governor's office as a legitimate voice for private practice Registered Counselors in Washington State.  This is a big step forward.

What is somewhat discouraging is that much of the rest of the work group is being put together in the same way as last year by inviting every organization of licensed mental health providers to have representation.  This means that every group that is in competition with private practice RC's for market share gets to sit on this group.  This can make the group too large to be effective and almost guarantees that the number of members who have a real expertise regarding RC's and a real concern for creating a workable solution will be in the minority.  Next time there is a revision of the code regarding any of the licensed mental health professions, we definitely want to Registered Counselors sitting on the work group!

What you can do:

  • Attend the work group meetings: July 13, August 9, August 23, September 6. Meetings will be 9 am to 4 pm in the Olympia/Tumwater area. Check the DOH website or this website for exact location when it is announced.
  • Submit comments to the DOH
  • Keep in touch with your legislators about your concerns
  • Stay informed - be positive and proactive
  • Join the registered counselor listserv <http://listserv.wa.gov/cgi-bin/wa?SUBED1=registered-counselors&A=1&>

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