Licensure Exemption Workgroup

History

The Board of Licensed Professional Counselors and Therapists (BLPCT), the Board of Psychologist Examiners (BPE), and the Board of Licensed Social Workers (BLSW) have established a joint Licensure Exemption Workgroup (LEW) consisting of representatives of each board.  The LEW was tasked with reviewing the current licensure exemptions and considering whether to recommend changes.  As of now, the LEW has recommended, and each board has approved, to move forward with a jointly sponsored legislative concept for the 2017 session that will remove the “Counselor Education Exemption” from BLPCT statute. 
The Counselor Education Exemption came into law on January 1, 2010 as part of the new BLPCT practice act (HB 2506, 2009).  Found under ORS 675.825(4), the Exemption provides that if a person lacks a qualifying master’s degree needed for licensure as a professional counselor or marriage and family therapist, then the BLPCT statutes do not apply to that person.  The LEW has found that the Exemption has restricted the BLPCT’s ability to protect the public from the unqualified and improper practice of professional counseling and marriage and family therapy, posing a risk of harm to public consumers of mental health services.  In fact, since the inception of the Exemption, BLCPT has been forced to dismiss numerous reported cases of highly unethical conduct simply because the practitioner did not have a qualifying master’s degree.  
This proposal will not change the way unlicensed practitioners and alternative providers may render services in Oregon.  Current Oregon law states that in order to perform or offer diagnosis, assessment and treatment services for mental health disorders, a person must be licensed to practice psychology, professional counseling, marriage and family therapy, or clinical social work.  To do so without a license is considered “unlicensed practice,”  with some exceptions including BLPCT's "Counselor Education Exemption."  The other two boards (psychology and social work) have no such exemption, and may investigate and if needed take enforcement action in cases of unlicensed practice.  The “counselor education exemption” only serves to restrict BLPCT’s ability to enforce its statutory practice act, while the other two boards have no such limitation.

Events & Documents

LEW Meetings:
  • November 10, 2015 -  initial meeting to develop priorities and identify stakeholders.
  • January 15, 2016  - updates and initial draft legislative concept
  • February 27, 2016 - meeting to discuss outreach; assignments to members.
  • April 27, 2016 - stakeholder outreach meeting. Thank you to all who attended and provided valuable feedback.
  • June 9, 2016 - meeting to review outreach and final recommended legislative concept language.
Please see HB 2361 (2017).

FAQ

Q: I’m a hypnotherapist in Oregon, and I heard that the boards want to introduce legislation that will no longer allow me to practice hypnotherapy… is this true?
A: No.  The proposal does not specifically prohibit any profession, and will not prevent the work of those who do not engage in diagnosis and treatment of disorders as explained above.
Q: Will this proposal affect QMHPs and QMHAs? 
A: No.  The boards are not proposing to modify the licensing exemption under ORS 675.825(3)(c) for a person who is employed by “any agency licensed or certified by the state to provide mental health or health services” (including OHA-certified community mental health and drug & alcohol programs).  Nor will this affect CADCs who are authorized by DHS to provide addiction treatment services.
Q: Will this proposal change the psychology or social work boards’ enforcement authority or licensure exemptions?
A: No.  
Q: I’m unable to attend the next meeting.  Is there another way for me to provide feedback or ask questions?
A: Yes, please email your questions or comments to lpct.board@state.or.us.