The 20/20 Building Blocks to Portability Project recently concluded with widespread endorsement of both a single licensure title for counselors and a scope of practice for professional counseling. Of the participating organizations that voted, 28 of 29 endorsed the licensure title of Licensed Professional Counselor, and 27 of 29 endorsed the scope of practice (read the full scope of practice below). In addition, one organization abstained from voting, while another did not vote.
The Building Blocks to Portability Project was part of the 20/20: A Vision for the Future of Counseling initiative that began in 2005. Sponsored by the American Counseling Association and the American Association of State Counseling Boards, 20/20 focused on advancing the counseling profession by engaging in profession-wide strategic planning. Ultimately, 31 major counseling organizations participated in the initiative.
The goal of the Building Blocks to Portability Project was to facilitate license portability for counselors by getting the participating organizations to develop and agree to a consensus licensure title, scope of practice and licensure education requirements. Delegates to the 20/20 initiative finalized the licensure title and scope of practice in March 2013 but could not reach agreement on the education requirements.
The consensus licensure title and scope of practice were then sent to each of the 31 participating organizations with a request for endorsement. Of the 29 organizations that voted, only the American Mental Health Counselors Association voted not to endorse the common licensure title of Licensed Professional Counselor, while the American Rehabilitation Counseling Association and the National Rehabilitation Counseling Association were the only two organizations that voted not to endorse the scope of practice.
In an October letter to the 20/20 delegates and participating organizations, Kurt Kraus, the facilitator for 20/20, wrote that the votes mark “the overall conclusion of an exhilarating and exhaustive eight-year process.”
“The next steps — how to ensure that these products are available to those who make major decisions about licensure of professional counselors across the country — are not yet established,” noted Kraus, a professor and chair of the Department of Counseling and College Student Personnel at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania. “I look forward to innovative methods from all of our participating organizations to utilize all of the consensus outcomes resulting from … 20/20 to continue to shape the future of the profession of counseling.”
In the letter, Kraus also thanked “each and every one of the delegates … whose efforts to give voice to their organizational affiliates were consistent and clear. The products of your labor have the potential to dramatically support interstate (and district) portability of professional licensure for counselors in the future.”
Earlier accomplishments tied to the 20/20 initiative include development of the Principles for Unifying and Strengthening the Profession as well as a unified definition of counseling: Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education and career goals.
For additional background on the 20/20 initiative, including participating organizations, a list of delegates, a statement of principles and concepts for future exploration, visit counseling.org/knowledge-center/20-20-a-vision-for-the-future-of-counseling.
Endorsed scope of practice for professional counseling
The independent practice of counseling encompasses the provision of professional counseling services to individuals, groups, families, couples and organizations through the application of accepted and established mental health counseling principles, methods, procedures and ethics.
Counseling promotes mental health wellness, which includes the achievement of social, career, and emotional development across the lifespan, as well as preventing and treating mental disorders and providing crisis intervention.
Counseling includes, but is not limited to, psychotherapy, diagnosis, evaluation; administration of assessments, tests and appraisals; referral; and the establishment of counseling plans for the treatment of individuals, couples, groups and families with emotional, mental, addiction and physical disorders.
Counseling encompasses consultation and program evaluation, program administration within and to schools and organizations, and training and supervision of interns, trainees, and pre-licensed professional counselors through accepted and established principles, methods, procedures and ethics of counselor supervision.
The practice of counseling does not include functions or practices that are not within the professional’s training or education.