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The Art of Reading Georgia Board Rules

Ethics Demystified: The Art of Reading Rules

Part I: Chapter 135-5 “Requirements for Licensure”

A common frustration of regulatory board licensees is reading and understanding the rules that govern their practice license. This confusing process also applies to the Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists rules.

It is critical you know the Rules whether you are obtaining Clinical Supervision or other Ethics Training for LPC workshops, SW or MFT, are a Supervisor or Director, applying for associate license, or have been licensed for many years. Not knowing the rules can result in years of wasted time in pursuit of licensure or disciplinary action taken against even experienced and otherwise-ethical licensees.

Obtaining a healthcare practice license requires much more than completing forms, hanging up a sign that you are in private practice and assuming the board will cut you slack subsequent to a board complaint because you plead ignorance of the rules. It just doesn’t work that way.

**This info is current as of 11/20/20. Visit this page regularly as board rules change.**

I’ll start with how to read the requirements for licensure, but this method applies to reading all sections of the board rules. This will provide you with a foundation for understanding the other rule sections.

Step 1 – Download Chapter 135-5, “Requirements for Licensure”

Locate the rules from the Secretary of State website. At the top navigation bar, hover on “Laws, Policies, Rules”. Select from the dropdown menu, ‘Board Rules’. Click on Chapter 135-5, “Requirements for Licensure”. You will then be required to attest to a copyright notice agreeing you will not use for commercial purposes. The chapter will display.

Copy and paste the entire rule chapter into a MS word document and name the file something like “135-5 requirements_date” where date is today’s date. Save to your computer.

Step 2- Read “Definitions”

Find the chapter headings that correspond to your license–AMFT, LCSW, LPC, APC and so on. Then find the chapter subheadings, “Definitions”. Read them.  You will notice some of the definitions will refer you to another definition. Read those. First, gain a thorough understanding of the definitions.

Step 3- Most Important Licensing Concept

Now that you fully understand the Definitions, remember this important concept: ‘Year of post-masters directed experience under supervision in a work setting acceptable to the board’. Notice in this single sentence are EIGHT Definitions. Directed Experience, Year of Directed Experience Under Supervision, Supervision, Post-Masters, Director, Direction, Supervisor, and Work Settings Acceptable to The Board. Review the Definitions again if necessary.

Read the remainder of Chapter 135-5 in it’s entirety. Now download and store all other chapters of the rules. Especially important is 135-7 “Continuing Ed”, 135-9 “Code of Ethics” and 135-10 “Advertising”. You can also download my free 6-page guide, CE Rules Made Easy.

The following is a case example of an LPC application:

Example: Today is 1/1/18. You are an APC applying for an LPC license. You were a Master’s- Level applicant and completed a 600 hour internship with Supervision provided by a psychiatrist. You began Directed Experience as a staff therapist for Peachford Hospital on 1/1/15 so you have been employed there exactly 3 years. You began Supervision with an off-site Supervisor exactly two months later on 3/1/15. The Supervisor is a Master’s- Level LPC whose license was originally issued on 3/1/12. You changed your Supervisor on 3/1/16. The Supervisor is also an LPC with an original license date of 3/1/14. Have you met all requirements for licensure?

  • You have satisfied One Year of Directed Experience under Supervision through your minimum 300 hour internship provided by an eligible psychiatrist.
  • When you submitted your APC application 1/15/15, it determined that your work at Peachford Hospital was a Work Setting Acceptable to the Board.
  • The time period, 1/1/15 – 3/1/15 is ineligible since you were not under Supervision during that period of Directed Experience. At this point you are two months short of the Master’s Level requirement of 3 Years Post Master’s Directed Experience under Supervision.
  • checkYour first Supervisor is an eligible LPC.
  • Your second Supervisor who was Masters Level was not eligible to provide Supervision until 3/17 since they are a master’s level supervisor and were only licensed 2 years and needed to be licensed 3 years when you began supervision with them. So you are also short an additional One Year of Post Masters Directed Experience under Supervision.
  • The board will most likely deny your application.  A likely outcome will be requiring you to obtain 14 more months of Post Masters Directed Experience under Supervision –2 months of Directed Experience while under Supervision plus 12 months by an eligible Supervisor. You may then reapply. *Every situation is different and there are hypothetical factors and matters of board discretion so do not interpret this as absolute.*

Why did this happen and how could you have avoided it? There were two key Definitions you did not read thoroughly–Direction while not under Supervision is ineligible and the definition of Supervisor.

1) You should have commenced Supervision immediately after beginning your work at Peachford Hospital.

2) You should have known a Supervisor must be licensed for a minimum of 3 years.

Now that you have read and thoroughly understand, “Supervision”, you also know that whereas the psychiatrist is an eligible supervisor you still need two years provided by an LPC. Whereas, that second Supervisor should have known they were not eligible, the consequence is that you will need to work for 14 more months before you are eligible to reapply– a waste of your time simply because you did. Not. Read. The Rules.

I will explain how to read Code of Ethics and Advertising in next week’s post. Bookmark this page as I will post updates as the board changes how it applies these rules.

Most importantly to note is the board is becoming more stringent in acceptable work settings and work activity. A common frustration of regulatory board licensees is reading and understanding the Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists rules. It is critical you know the Rules whether you are obtaining clinical supervision training for LPC , SW or MFT, are a Supervisor or Director, applying for associate license, have been licensed for many years, are working in a high risk specialty.  Not knowing the rules can result in years of wasted time or disciplinary action

You deserve a former licensing board president on your side.

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