People who listen to the problems of other people but cannot legally diagnose problems or provide treatment are hoping the legislature recognizes their services this year.
Licensed Professional Counselors hope state lawmakers let them broaden their services to include psychotherapy, assessments, crisis intervention, and diagnosing people with mental, emotional, and behavioral problems.
The head of the Missouri Mental Health Counselor’s Association, Dan Holdinghaus of Leasburg, says the bill codifies what counselors do now. He says diagnosis goes with the standard assessments that are done for insurance and Medicaid eligibility.
The problems is, he says, courts don’t recognize that diagnosis. He cites a state appeals court ruling which a counselor testified for a child crime victim but the case was sent back for a new trial when the judge ruled the counselor could not be an expert witness because the law does not specifically authorize counselors to diagnose.
Critics say the bill does not require as much education for counselors as they should have. Sponsors dismiss that argument, saying the only thing keeping counselors from being recognized for what they’ve already been doing is wording in the law—and what they’re doing is very close to the things being done by psychologists, licensed social workers, marriage and family counselors. The sponsor of the bill, Delbert Scott of Lowry City, argues that professional licensed counselors should have the same legal standing as those doing similar work.
The bill is SB1109