The State of Florida has a professional body that implements the legislations that pertain to the practice of mental health counseling in the state. The Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy & Mental Health Counseling award licenses to mental health professionals who seek to practice in the state of Florida. The board determines whether the educational credentials, training and experience of the applicant pass the standards and requirements set by the board and the legislated regulation of mental health professionals. The board also has the authority to suspend and revoke licenses when the professional has been found to have committed actions which violates the ethical guidelines identified by the board.
According to the State of Florida’s statute of clinical counseling and psychotherapy (State of Florida, 2007), the legislation of regulating and professions and occupations prevents the unqualified mental health professionals from practicing in Florida and protects the public from poorly trained professionals who may become threat to the health and well-being of the public.
The state has recognized that the quality of life at present has been undergoing changes and that emotional and psychological health is directly related to physical health. It is presumed that the public needs qualified mental health professionals who could provide services to the public in order to maintain their mental health, thus qualified professionals should be given the recognition and authority to engage in legitimate practice. Becoming a duly licensed mental health professional would imply that the state recognizes one’s ability and skills and the public would be assured that they will be getting quality care.
The state categorizes the mental health professionals according to clinical social work, marriage and family therapy and mental health counseling. The distinctions are made to clearly identify the area of specialization and clientele of the said professions, although a dual license is available for those who are qualified to practice in two of the three categories.
The licensure requirements for mental health counseling are different for students who have undergone training in a Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accredited institutions and for non-CACREP institutions. Aside from the completion of a master’s degree in mental health related courses, the applicant must also have about 2 years of post-master’s experience in the field of counseling under a licensed supervisor.
The non-CACREP graduate must satisfy the required hours and units to meet the required instruction and training on counseling theories and practice, human growth and development; diagnosis and treatment of psychopathology; human sexuality, group theories and practice, individual evaluation and assessment, career and lifestyle assessment, research and program evaluation, social and cultural foundations, counseling in community settings and substance abuse and in ethical, legal and professional standards (floridashealth.com).
The requirements for licensing in social work and marriage and family therapy also specifies the hours and units of graduate work and courses in the specific field. An integral requirement is the completion of the internship hours under a certified supervisor in the said specialization.
With this in mind, I found that the university curriculum matches the required training and education that the state licensing asks for and I was happy to note that the university is also CACREP accredited indicating that I just need to complete all the required courses and practicum and I can probably apply for the licensure. At present I have no plans of pursuing a doctoral degree in mental health counseling, I think I am more inclined to finish this master’s degree at the moment. I am 43 years old and I have 3 kids which mean that I do not have the energy to go through another 3 years for the doctoral degree. However, I am still open to the idea if after this degree I might change my mind and get that Ph.D.
Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy & Mental Health
Counseling (2004). floridashealth.com Retrieved October 17, 2007 from http://www.doh.state.fl.us/mqa/491/index.html
2007 Florida Statutes, Chapter 491 Clinical and Counseling and Psychotherapy Services,
Retrieved October 17, 2007 from http://www.flsenate.gov/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=Ch0491/SEC002.HTM&Title=-%3E2007-%3ECh0491-%3ESection%20002#0491.002
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