Tag Archives: Licensure

From the President: Making progress toward portability

Simone Lambert November 30, 2018

Simone Lambert, ACA’s 67th president

Imagine being able to move to another state and seamlessly maintain your license as a professional counselor. Consider the possibility of providing mental health services via telehealth across the nation without having to maintain 50-plus licenses. Envision working in the offices of a practice that spans two or three border states in a metropolitan area and needing to maintain only one state license.

Although these scenarios will not come to fruition overnight, the American Counseling Association recently took a major step in that direction. On Oct. 17, the ACA Governing Council approved the initial endorsement and funding of a professional occupation interstate compact for professional counselors.
This monumental decision was the result of courageous ACA leaders and staff, across many years, examining the portability issue with various logistical concerns in mind.

What, ideally, will an interstate compact achieve? The hope is that within all the states that sign on to the compact, professional counselors will have the ability to move seamlessly, conduct telecounseling and practice across border states. Simultaneously, we as a profession will need to continue standardizing initial licensure requirements, thus allowing additional states to meet the criteria established by the interstate compact. This two-pronged effort will require much time, much energy and many resources so that we can achieve the end goal of national portability.

The interstate compact development is a multiyear process that ACA envisions being broken into three major phases:

  • Project research, the development and convening of an advisory group, and the drafting of compact language
  • Development and implementation of legislative strategy
  • Development of the commission of bylaws, structure, membership, budget and promotion strategies

This effort could not have gotten off the ground without the bold leadership of ACA Past President Thelma Duffey and the continued efforts over the past four terms of the ACA Governing Council, which has consistently prioritized portability as a goal for all counselors in good standing. The diligent work of this year’s ACA Portability Task Force and the tireless efforts of the ACA staff have enabled us to ensure that the needs of ACA members are taken into account with such an important decision.

The ACA Licensure Portability Model clearly emphasizes that if a counselor has met all of the state criteria and doesn’t have any violations, then we need to strive toward licensure portability. As a reminder, the ACA Licensure Portability Model (as approved by the ACA Governing Council in June 2016) states: “A counselor who is licensed at the independent practice level in their home state and who has no disciplinary record shall be eligible for licensure at the independent practice level in any state or U.S. jurisdiction in which they are seeking residence. The state to which the licensed counselor is moving may require a jurisprudence examination based on the rules and procedures of that state.”

A professional occupation interstate compact for professional counselors has the potential to operationalize the aspirational ACA Licensure Portability Model.

Today, we know that military spouses are challenged to remain in the counseling profession when having to move from state to state every few years and trying to get through the licensure endorsement process before the next move. We know there are mental health shortages, continuity of care issues and national crises that could be better addressed through telehealth counseling if state boundaries weren’t an obstacle. We know that professional counselors need licensure portability so they can be geographically flexible in seeking positions when they begin their careers and to remain actively engaged throughout their careers.

The step taken Oct. 17 will not help professional counselors today, but there is much hope that a professional occupation interstate compact for professional counselors can assist us in the realization of licensure portability in the foreseeable future.

 

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Follow Simone on Twitter: @drsimonelambert 

 

From the President: The journey toward licensure portability

Simone Lambert August 1, 2018

Simone Lambert, ACA’s 67th president

From the Building Blocks to Portability Project, which emerged out of the 20/20: A Vision for the Future of Counseling initiative, to adoption of the ACA Licensure Portability Model in June 2016 by the ACA Governing Council, the counseling profession continues to further the licensure expedition. These ardent efforts began in 1976, when Virginia became the first state to license professional counselors.

Much has changed in our society over the ensuing 42 years. There has been a transformation in how we live, work and communicate. Technology is advancing far beyond what many of us could have imagined. Telehealth, distance counseling and online counselor education programs are on the rise. Another major societal shift is the growth of metropolitan regions that traverse state lines. Counselors often work and live in two different states within one of these regional areas. As counselors become more mobile and interconnected, issues emerge concerning their ability to practice beyond the confines of their own state. Because of these modern developments, licensure portability is a more relevant and pressing concern for counselors.

Then there are other scenarios that counselors must sometimes navigate. For instance, families relocate to serve as caregivers for other family members, or couples balance dual careers, which may lead to one partner being professionally disadvantaged when a job relocation occurs for the other partner. A prime example of this is military spouses who often relocate. They may be confronted with completing their counseling degree, obtaining licensure and transferring their license to a new state on a timetable over which they have little to no control.

Many licensure laws have remained stagnant since their inception. This is in part because when counselor license laws are open for modification, other groups or legislators can position themselves to limit counselors’ scope of practice. If updating these laws were easy, the issue of portability would have been solved years ago. However, states vary with respect to graduate curricula, post-licensure hours and supervision requirements.

Some states have reciprocity whereby transfer applications are reviewed on an individual basis. State licensing boards typically do not have large staffs, thus this individual review can add months to the process. Sometimes this delay prevents applicants from accepting employment opportunities. This is a challenge for counselors at all stages of their careers.

However, new professionals navigating the licensure process in one state when the need arises to take a position in another state face particular challenges. These new professionals are sometimes told that their supervised hours will not count toward licensure or that they need to accrue more supervised experience. They may be required to take additional coursework at a time when they are not making a livable salary due to their prelicensure status. Or, as they start to pay back student loans, new professionals may be required to pay additional licensure application fees, supervision costs and testing fees. The barriers to launching or sustaining a career in counseling can seem overwhelming.

We must continue to expand on our professional groundwork and make strides to help counselors create and sustain productive and rewarding careers in counseling. We can do this while maintaining standards that protect the public. We can do this while addressing both the shortage of mental health providers and increasing service access for clients. We can do this by including telehealth as a viable modality to meet the needs in rural and underserved communities. We must do this to assist counselors who take positions across state lines.

Collectively, we can collaborate with states and advocate for state licensure to be compatible between and among states. We can endeavor to have a mechanism in place for true portability. We are focused on bringing licensure portability to fruition. Learn more about the ACA Licensure Portability Model in preparation for the next part of our licensure journey: counseling.org/knowledge-center/licensure-portability-model-fact-sheet

 

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ACA continues push forward for licensure portability

By the Counseling Today staff June 6, 2017

 

Summer 2019 update: The American Counseling Association has created a state-by-state guide with updated information on licensure requirements across the country. Go to counseling.org/knowledge-center/licensure-requirements for information on licensure in your state or U.S. territory.

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The American Counseling Association Governing Council has endorsed a plan that would allow counselor practitioners who are licensed and in good standing in one state to become seamlessly licensed in other states should they move.

The lack of licensure portability — being able to transfer a professional counseling license when a practitioner moves to a different state — has long been an issue within the profession and is frequently cited as one of the top frustrations of professional counselors. Counselor licensure titles and requirements vary from state to state across the U.S., sometimes forcing even the most veteran of counselors to obtain additional supervision hours or meet other requirements before securing a new license after moving across state lines.

The ACA Licensure Portability Model, passed by the Governing Council in June 2016 and reaffirmed this past March, calls for counselors who are licensed in one state and have no disciplinary record to become eligible for license “in any state or U.S. jurisdiction in which they are seeking residence.” The model allows that states may require these counselors to take a jurisprudence exam to verify that they are knowledgeable about the laws in that particular state.

To become a reality, the ACA Licensure Portability Model must first be adopted by individual state licensing boards across the U.S. The procedure for taking this action varies from state to state. Some licensing boards possess the ability to change regulations on their own, whereas others must first petition their respective state legislature.

“I was amazed to see the progress that last year’s Governing Council made and how this year’s board has been so supportive of our rolling out the model that was adopted,” comments ACA CEO Richard Yep. “We look forward to working with licensing boards across the country in order to ensure that qualified professional counselors have the ability to practice in the jurisdiction of their choice.”

During her year as ACA president (2015-2016), Thelma Duffey helped to guide the discussion as the Governing Council considered the portability model motion. She calls the adopted model aspirational and forward thinking, and terms the plan a form of advocacy in and of itself.

“One of our goals in endorsing the model for consideration by states was to enthusiastically promote ACA’s position on portability while working with stakeholders who shared our interests and visions. It was also important to the Governing Council that we alert the membership of our vision and mission to make licensure portability a reality,” says Duffey, professor and chair of the counseling department at the University of Texas at San Antonio. “Much like ACA’s aspirational goal of seeing counseling licensure reach every state years ago, we once again are aspiring to establish a national standard, and our goal is to see this realized in the future.”

As for next steps, Duffey says, “ACA is engaging in communication and advocacy efforts that involve informing the membership and other stakeholders about the ACA Licensure Portability Model … and communicating the challenges to portability, particularly as they relate to differences in initial licensure requirements across states. The Governing Council also approved an advocacy plan that highlights the trend toward standardization and provides a rationale for why the ACA portability model is a well-suited aspirational goal. The ACA plan is, of course, grounded in respect for state sovereignty and recognizes that each state licensing board has the ultimate decision on whether to participate. Next steps involve ACA working with states to facilitate support for standardization and the ACA Licensure Portability Model.”

“This model is, from my perspective, visionary in that it takes into account the increasing standardization of training and postgraduation supervision requirements,” Duffey continues. “It is also inclusive of all independently licensed professional counselors, and it is respectful of the training that counselors undergo. Moreover, it is designed with the intent of protecting the public. A criteria of the model stipulates that portability is contingent upon a violation-free practice.”

Multiple ideas, one goal

The ACA Licensure Portability Model joins another initiative that is being floated across the profession to address this issue. A plan co-created by the American Association of State Counseling Boards (AASCB), the National Board for Certified Counselors, the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision, and the American Mental Health Counselors Association endorses allowing licenses to be transferred between states for counselors who have “engaged in ethical practice, with no disciplinary sanctions, for at least five years from the date of application for licensure endorsement” and “possessed the highest level of counselor licensure for independent practice for at least three years from the date of application
for licensure endorsement.” Licensees would also have to comply with one
of the following:

  • Hold the national certified counselor credential in good standing
  • Have a graduate-level degree from a program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs
  • Meet all of the academic, exam and postgraduate supervised experience standards as adopted by the respective state counseling licensure board

Prospective licensees would also have to complete a jurisprudence exam if required by the state’s regulatory board. As with the ACA model, this plan would first have to be adopted state by state to come to fruition.

“A set of guidelines, as with the ACA Licensure Portability Model that Governing Council embraced in June 2016, is a positive and necessary gesture in support of the standardization of licensure to enable licensed counselors to move from state to state with a maximum of ease,” says 2016-2017 ACA President Catherine Roland. “The operative word in that sentence is guidelines, because any portability model … is at best [a set of] respectful professional suggestions to state boards. So while portability is a priority for all of us, the state boards would need to be willing to work to create a similar template for all, and that I feel is aspirational.”

“I also believe it is an attainable goal in the future,” Roland continues. “That goal may be reached, however, and still not ensure the actual ability of an individual to be licensed in a particular state. It’s important to realize that each state board will continue to carefully check each and every applicant, in much the same way as they do now. If someone doesn’t have the requirements of academic or practice rigor, it is very likely that no license will be granted. Portability doesn’t guarantee a license.”

A vision for the future

During her presidency, Duffey created a task force focused on counselor license portability, led by 2014-2015 ACA President Robert Smith. Duffey says she directed the group to evaluate other portability plans circulating within the profession “for potential ACA adoption of those models. If the task force did not see a compatible fit between those existing models and ACA’s strategic vision, the task force was given the latitude to create a model that more closely aligned with our vision for the future.” The task force decided to create a separate ACA model, which was ultimately passed by the Governing Council.

As Duffey explained, “The portability task force was charged with developing the model that considered the extensive training and supervisory experiences of counselors, and the great needs for mental health counseling. They also recognized the strong trends toward licensure standardization with regard to education and experiential requirements. The task force believed that the ACA portability model would meet the needs of counselors as the requirements become more uniform across the country. It would be very unfortunate for states to adopt a portability plan that involved additional post-licensure years of experience only to have this requirement unnecessary in the near future.”

Duffey says she views the ACA Licensure Portability Model as addressing the problem of state-to-state portability by providing states with “a visionary best practice promulgated by ACA. Although this can be seen as a tall order in the short run, I believe it will be a wonderful accomplishment and form of advocacy in the long run. Most state licensing boards require 60 hours of course work and 3,000 hours of post-master’s-degree supervision at this point in time. We are making strides toward standardization. As a result, I believe we are well-positioned to move the ACA Licensure Portability Model forward for consideration by states. It may be that we begin this work through compacts, or states that share common requirements.”

Building on a foundation

In 2015, ACA sent letters to state licensing boards asking for the adoption of a uniform professional title — licensed professional counselor (LPC) — and a uniform scope of practice, a five-paragraph job description that defines the work of professional counselors. The letter was the culmination of the Building Blocks to Portability Project that was part of 20/20: A Vision for the Future of Counseling. The yearslong strategic planning initiative, co-sponsored by ACA and AASCB, involved 31 counseling organizations. (For more information on 20/20, including the Principles for Unifying and Strengthening the Profession, the consensus definition of counseling and the Building Blocks to Portability Project, see counseling.org/knowledge-center/20-20-a-vision-for-the-future-of-counseling.)

Counselor licensure requirements were set up individually by each state over a period of decades — beginning with Virginia in 1976 and ending with California in 2009 — as the profession matured and pushed to establish itself. In the process, significant disparities arose between counselor licenses across the United States, from the number of supervision hours required to obtain a license to the license titles themselves, creating many of the ongoing obstacles in licensure portability.

“ACA is committed to working through these obstacles,” Duffey says. “It is a real burden that licensure portability is not available for a very large majority of independently licensed counselors at this point. As counselors, we cannot move from state to state with any assurance that we can practice and do the good work of counseling. This is so even after investing countless hours in training and supervised practice. Should independently licensed counselors need or desire to move to a different state, they risk losing the opportunity to work within their profession. This is a real challenge that too many people must deal with. Therefore, I see licensure portability as an important need and promoting licensure portability as an important professional goal.”

Says Roland, “I do believe licensure portability is a goal we all have, and I believe eventually it will be a goal that is reached. Until then, we will continue to support our ACA Licensure Portability Model and uphold our ACA Code of Ethics while we remain loyal to the counseling profession.”

 

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Text of the ACA Licensure Portability Model (as adopted by the ACA Governing Council)

“Whereas the mission statement of the American Counseling Association is to enhance the quality of life in society by promoting the development of professional counselors, advancing the counseling profession, and using the profession and practice of counseling to promote respect for human dignity and diversity; and

“Whereas advocating for licensure portability that allows professional counselors licensed at the independent practice level in one state to have the mobility to utilize their education and training and to serve the public by becoming licensed at the independent practice level in another state supports the mission of the American Counseling Association;

“Therefore, the American Counseling Association promulgates the following licensure portability model:

“A counselor who is licensed at the independent practice level in their home state and who has no disciplinary record shall be eligible for licensure at the independent practice level in any state or U.S. jurisdiction in which they are seeking residence. The state to which the licensed counselor is moving may require a jurisprudence examination based on the rules and procedures of that state.”

 

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Letters to the editor: ct@counseling.org

 

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See ACA’s list of frequently asked questions on portability, as well as an email address you can contact with further questions, here: counseling.org/knowledge-center/aca-licensure-portability-model-faqs

 

Nonprofit News: Is international certification right for you?

By “Doc Warren” Corson III April 24, 2017

Prior to 2016, I never gave much thought to becoming certified or licensed in another country. I mean, why go through all the hard work, pay all the fees and have to maintain a credential in a country that I had no plans of living in, let alone work in? And then it seemed like my world changed overnight.

No, I’m not talking about an election, though truth be told, some of my soul died that night, along with my faith in humanity. (How could “Diamond Joe” Quimby from Springfield not at least carry his state? Sure, he is a womanizing, lying, cheating scoundrel, but he is an entertaining one. Plus he has been a TV regular far longer and more consistently than that other guy. His exploits with The Simpsons were certainly worth some votes). I’m actually talking about two other things that happened in 2016 that got me thinking.

First, the American Counseling Association held a joint conference with our neighbors to the north, the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA), giving all of those who presented a chance to engage with an international audience in an international setting (the ACA Conference typically has an international audience with folks from more than a dozen countries attending). My wife and I were honored to be among those selected to present, and we found our northern friends to be a delight — as well as founts of information.

I also visited Lubec, Maine, in 2016, a place where some of my kin once lived and a place where you can actually see Canada while walking down the main drag. In fact, Canada is but a short walk, swim or boat ride away (literally hundreds of feet). I was impressed with the sign at the public boat landing asking folks from Canada to take a walk down the street or call a number to let the U.S. agents know they were visiting. I guess there is little chance of a wall being built there anytime soon.

I loved the environment and felt at home. I could envision my partial retirement years being spent there, which got me to thinking about how I could treat those who reside on Campobello Island, which is within sight of Lubec. This island, which is part of New Brunswick, Canada, is very noncommercial. In fact, until the 1960s, it had no bridge access; folks needed to take a boat to visit. Even today, it boasts no hospital, clinic or other forms of treatment that I am aware of, and even when entering the United States, you are many miles from such things.

 

What is international certification?

International certification (or licensure, depending on the country, location, etc.) is similar to what we have here in the United States and often has rigorous requirements that must be met and maintained. Having this credential allows you to become an independent practitioner should you so choose. It also allows you to collect fees from third parties such as insurance companies. Let’s face it — folks like me will never work for someone else, so becoming credentialed is the only way to consider making such a move.

Becoming credentialed in another country may be helpful for some clinicians but not all. Here are some scenarios:

  • Those who hope to work in, consult in, present in or one day move to a given country may find that being credentialed in that country eases the transition.
  • Maintaining a credential often can be easier than trying to apply for that credential for the first time 20 or more years after attending graduate school because requirements can change a great deal over time. (I was happy to see that my 17-year-old program still meets current requirements both in the United States and Canada, but many would not.)
  • International certification may provide a bit more prestige in general but especially to those who consult either in the private sector or as an expert witness in court cases. Being able to state that you are certified/licensed to practice not only in the United States but also in another country may give a boost to your perceived authority and possibly enable you to increase your fee.
  • For those attempting to present or publish internationally, review boards may be more comfortable accepting and inviting those whom they know have an investment and understanding of the country in question.
  • In the case of my nonprofit, we are considering expanding into Canada if and when it makes sense from a financial and logistical standpoint. Having prior credentials in the country you wish to expand into can help with some of the permit requirements. Getting this done ahead of time can help smooth the transition.

 

Which countries are best for you?

The answer to this question is highly subjective and depends on several factors, including where you see yourself possibly moving to or working either in the near or distant future. Does the country in question allow for nonresident credentialing? In Canada, you can get credentialed through the CCPA without being a resident. At least one Canadian province also allows a licensure option, but only those who have lived in the country for a substantial amount of time are eligible.

Among other questions to ask: Will this credential benefit you at all professionally? Will it open possible venues that may otherwise be closed to you?

 

How do I get certified in another country?

This answer depends on the country you select. For this discussion, we’ll focus on Canada because I am in the process of becoming certified as a counselor and counseling supervisor. Surprisingly enough, this process is in some ways easier than it is in the United States (although that may change at any moment). Currently, there is no comprehensive exam requirement. Instead, a comprehensive review of education and experience is required.

To get started, you need to become a member of CCPA. To apply for certification, members download the application and begin the typical process of selecting which track they want to take to certification. Each track offers advantages and disadvantages depending on your date of graduation and experience. Once the track has been selected, you will need to get forms signed verifying your experience, letters of recommendation, a comprehensive background check, official transcripts and, for those from other countries, proof that your college was accredited in your country at the time of graduation. You will also need to provide official course descriptions so they can be compared with the Canadian equivalent.

In my case, getting 17-year-old official course descriptions was far from easy — especially given that I went to a college that merged with another college before being sold to yet another and then finally bought large parts of itself back. Thankfully, I had unofficial copies from when I was a student (I save things). I also had access to the then-director, so when I ran into a hurdle at the original school, I was able to proffer the descriptions via email and had the former director verify their accuracy. As of the time of this writing, official descriptions had been submitted for review by CCPA.

On another note, make sure that you get an FBI background check. I was given a background check by my local police department (located in the same place where I was born, raised and have always lived). This did NOT meet the certification requirements. If you are not required to get fingerprinted during your background check, you likely aren’t getting the one you will need.

 

After you apply

Just like in the United States, after you apply for international certification you will need to wait — and then possibly wait some more while the application process progresses or stalls. If you’re lucky, there will be a portal that you can log in to to view the progress, and the organization in charge of issuing certification will be prompt in contacting you should something not meet its standards (such as when my local background check was rejected).

In addition, be sure to follow up with your references. Even the most dedicated of colleagues can sometimes misplace or overlook your reference instead of sending it in, or they might make a mistake on it that results in the reference being rejected. Be prepared to submit and resubmit as needed. Stay calm, stay polite and stay focused.

International credentialing may not be for everyone, but for some of us, it can be well worth the fees and time invested. So sit back, close your eyes and imagine in what country you could see yourself in the future. Once you have a place in mind, start the exploration process. Who knows? You just may change your life.

 

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Dr. Warren Corson III

“Doc Warren” Corson III is a counselor, educator, writer and the founder, developer, and clinical and executive director of Community Counseling Centers of Central CT Inc. (www.docwarren.org) and Pillwillop Therapeutic Farm (www.pillwillop.org).

Contact him at docwarren@docwarren.org. Additional resources related to nonprofit design, documentation and related information can be found at docwarren.org/supervisionservices/resourcesforclinicians.html.

 

 

 

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Opinions expressed and statements made in articles appearing on CT Online should not be assumed to represent the opinions of the editors or policies of the American Counseling Association.

Counselor licensing board to be established in U.S. Virgin Islands

By Bethany Bray February 23, 2016

Counselor licensure is coming to the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI).

A bill to establish the Board of Virgin Islands Licensed Counselors and Examiners was passed by the Caribbean territory’s Senate and signed into law by Gov. Kenneth Mapp on Jan. 26.

The news comes after decades of advocacy by counselors who live in the USVI. Until now, USVI counselors could obtain a business license to practice and treat clients but not a professional license, explains Edward Browne, a member of the American Counseling Association of the Virgin Islands (ACAVI) who was involved in advocating for the bill.

“I’m very excited about the fact that we were able to accomplish this milestone. It’s been a long time coming,” says Berlina Wallace, ACAVI president. “This will bring more opportunities for counselors Flag of the US Virgin Islandsand greater regulation for the wider community.”

Browne and Wallace agree that the establishment of counselor licensure in the USVI is a welcome change. Not only will it create regulation and legitimacy for the profession, they say, but it will also institute a true system of checks and balances for consumers.

“I’m really excited about having the [licensure] board in place from many different standpoints, but especially from an ethical standpoint,” says Browne, a national certified counselor (NCC) and chair of ACAVI’s licensure and government relations committee. “Our success here in the Virgin Islands will be a springboard for other places around the Caribbean, other nations and territories in the region.”

The USVI Legislature unanimously passed a bill to establish a counselor licensure board this past December. The document’s language requires the governor to appoint at least five of the board’s seven members within two years of the bill’s passage. After the board is established, its rules and policies are determined, and its members are trained, the body can begin licensing professional counselors, says Browne, an elementary school counselor who also runs a private practice.

Once established, the board will issue three types of licenses: licensed professional counselor, licensed marriage and family therapist, and licensed substance abuse counselor.

Counselors on the USVI have been pushing for licensure and regulation for more than 20 years, Browne says. The issue gained momentum in recent years as a draft bill was polished, finalized and given to Sen. Sammuel Sanes of St. Croix, who sponsored the bill and advocated for its passage.

Five members of ACAVI testified in a hearing with the Committee on Health, Hospital and Human Services as the bill made its way through Senate committees last year. In December, staff from the American Counseling Association’s Department of Government Affairs met with Sanes and Browne to lend support.

Passage of the bill will pave the way for USVI counselors to finally be licensed, ultimately eliminating many of the headaches that currently plague them — most notably the inability to be reimbursed through client health insurance, Browne says.

Wallace, who has a background in school counseling and is finishing her master’s degree in substance abuse and mental health counseling, knows this headache firsthand, as she was passed over for a job at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Without a professional license, Wallace was deemed ineligible for the job, she explains.

It is estimated that there are roughly 200 counselors in the USVI, Wallace says. The American Counseling Association currently has 22 members living in the territory, a group of Caribbean islands that includes St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John.

On the U.S. mainland, counselor licensure was established state by state over a period of decades, beginning with Virginia in 1976 and ending with California in 2009.

According to Wallace, counselors in the USVI see a lot of substance abuse issues and gambling addiction (there is one casino in the USVI and another on the way, she says). Browne adds that counselors often help with trauma from domestic violence, issues around youth education and challenges related to the island’s recent economic downturn.

At the same time, USVI residents often struggle with the island’s colonial history and modern-day dual identity, split between its American and Caribbean heritages, Browne says. USVI residents are considered American citizens, and many serve in the U.S. armed forces, but they still can’t cast votes in the U.S. presidential election.

“We’re in two worlds, but not in any one fully,” Browne comments.

However, as USVI counselors become professionally licensed in the coming years, they will set an example for other nations and cultures, Browne says.

“Our success can open people’s hearts and minds up to the idea that we [counselors] are here to provide care,” he says. “They can look at what we’ve accomplished, and we can support other counselors in the [Caribbean] region and around the world.”

 

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Find out more

To view the full bill and learn more about how the USVI’s new licensure board will operate, click here.

 

To view Gov. Mapp’s letter authenticating approval of the bill, click here.

 

Trunk Bay on St. John Island, USVI

Trunk Bay on St. John Island, USVI

 

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Bethany Bray is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Contact her at bbray@counseling.org

 

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