Waiting For the Counseling Compact v. Individual State Licenses.
Table of Contents
Now that the Licensed Professional Counselors Practice Act is effective, you have some decisions to make.
Primarily, do you wait for states to implement compact agreements with other states or do you seek obtain individual state licenses?
If you want to pursue state licenses now, you need to do so systematically to minimize frustration.
If you are overwhelmed or would like help navigating states licensing requirements— if you are feeling at a loss, you may schedule a consultation with me.
When Can LPC/LMHC Begin Counseling Under The Counseling Compact.
These are the steps that have been completed toward implementation:
10 states have passed LPC Counseling Compact Legislation. This triggers the counseling compact organization creating the administrative structure of their role in the counseling compact, hire staff and so on.
When the template law was created by the compact organization, the 10 state threshold was somewhat arbitrary. It was not initially set by law.
States that have passed compact law are now legally permitted by state government to engage with the compact network.
This is a milestone because there are states where law prohibits healthcare boards from even entering into reciprocity agreements with other states.
States are now pondering how to reconcile their new compact law with their mandates to set licensing requirements.
What Still Needs To Be Done For You To Begin Practicing in A Counseling Compact State.
There is a critical component that is a necessary delay of full implementation: Uniformity.
Uniformity is when states have substantially equivalent licensing requirements.
A primary dilemma for state boards is can they under law and do they believe it is reasonable to set greater requirements for their own LPC license applicants in the interest of serving Uniformity under the counseling compact.
Many states will either need to increase or decrease their LPC licensing requirements in order to achieve uniformity. This may require involvement of further legislation, attorneys general and other political subdivisions of state government.
Sounds like a lot of red tape?
There are both direct and indirect costs associated with participating in the counseling compact.
States may need to allocate monies to fund board’s maintenance of their compact rules and policies.
There are many other considerations.
Fundamental Differences Between The Compact and Individual State LPC Licenses.
Individual LPC License
When considering whether to pursue the counseling compact versus multi state licenses, there are factors that need to be weighed.
When you have individual state licenses, they are entirely separate. For example, if you are a Virginia LPC and obtain a license in North Carolina you will need to understand and abide by all of North Carolina rules and law. You have legal licenses in both states.
This includes continuing education, scope of practice, renewal and so on.
State healthcare practice law is complex.
Particularly, you will need to know:
1) Can you diagnose.
2) Can you write an order to evaluate and hospitalize.
3) Are you afforded privileged communication and are your client communications immune from discovery as evidence in civil or criminal proceedings. In other words, do that state have privileged communication.
4) If a board complaint is filed against you in a state you are licensed, you will need to respond to it in that state.
5) You will need to also know board rules.
Counseling Compact- Privilege To Practice
If you pursue practice under the compact, you are not issued a license. You are granted the right to practice formally known as “Privilege To Practice”. Whereas all states that have passed compact law contains language, “shall be equivalent to a state license” it is not:
The Privilege To Practice is not a stand alone license. It is dependent on having a state license–in at least one state. So it is not possible to enter into the counseling compact network and circumvent any state licensing process.
Before I continue, it is not possible to predict exactly how the Privilege To Practice and this compact will be regulated by both the counseling compact and your state board. It is too early in the process.
Obtaining the Privilege to Practice will also embed you in a regulatory network which expands powers and responsibilities of the boards and entity that regulates the Privilege To Practice:
Board complaints–likely those that result in a public order–would be shared with other counseling compact states.
The counseling compact organization could revoke or suspend your Privilege To Practice in all compact states.
Advantageous is that you have a Privilege to Practice, you CAN practice physically within a compact state’s borders.
Deciding on the Compact V. Separate State Licenses.
Your Business Goals
Your business goals can guide your approach to the counseling compact versus individual LPC licenses.
First, the counseling compact will not be an immediate option. It could be well into 2023 or later before LPCs can practice through the compact. If you need to become licensed in other states now, you will need to pursue licensure by examination or by endorsement.
A general guideline is to not approach multi state licensing as accumulation of licenses or ‘in how many states can I get licensed?’.
Why have the burden of maintaining a license in a state where you may see very few clients? It is costly and carries risk.
Begin by targeting states you either want to develop a practice or need to because you are already seeing clients in that state. For example, some therapists may practice on a bordering state so that legal and ethical dilemma must be resolved.
Some therapists work for organizations with nationwide offices. Can you deliver services in those states you are not licensed?
You will likely need to consider this when under the employ of nationwide mental health education and mental health treatment organizations.
Your Professional Goals as A Therapist
You may wish to exercise a rare specialty area of expertise. This can often be accomplished by serving areas with high need. In state or out of state, just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s ethical. Learn more about the ethics v legal of distance counseling.
LPC Counseling Compact or State Licenses?
If you need to become licensed as soon as possible, you will need to pursue full state licensure.
If you are able to wait until the counseling compact moves toward full implementation you may wish to wait as you will not need to apply for multiple licenses unless that state is not participating in the compact.