On October 11, 2009, the counseling profession achieved a historic goal with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's signing into law of California Senate Bill 788, establishing licensure of professional clinical counselors in the state.
On October 11, 2009, the counseling profession achieved a historic goal with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's signing into law of California Senate Bill 788, establishing licensure of professional clinical counselors in the state. The counselor licensure bill was introduced by Senators Mark Wyland and Senate President pro tem Darrell Steinberg.
Counselors are now licensed as master's degreed mental health professionals in all U.S. jurisdictions. Nationwide, there are more than 110,000 licensed professional counselors working in the full range of treatment settings to assist clients with behavioral disorders and developmental issues. Licensed professional counselors are recognized as independent mental health service providers by the vast majority of private insurance companies, as well as under state and federal public health programs. As in most states, large areas in California are experiencing a shortage of mental health professionals.
ACA President Lynn Linde applauded California's enactment of the licensure bill. "This is a momentous occasion; now all 50 states [, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico] have licensure. What this means is that professional counseling is now recognized in all areas of the country and, more importantly, that protections for the consumers will now exist everywhere. Licensure for counselors significantly expands the availability of mental health services, which is crucial to helping meet the need for services."
ACA congratulates the California Coalition for Counselor Licensure (CCCL) for its success in leading the licensure effort in the state. ACA has long sought to gain licensure of counselors in all U.S. jurisdictions, and has provided both financial support and technical assistance to CCCL in support of California's effort.
Dean Porter, President of the CCCL, is pleased that its third bill has been approved by California's legislature and signed into law by its Governor. "After working for almost eight years, CCCL, a coalition of nine California counseling organizations, is proud that California will become the 50th state to license professional counselors. This victory would not have been possible without the dedicated counselors throughout California, and the state and national organizations, particularly ACA and NBCC, that support professional counseling. Legislators from both sides of the aisle have the gratitude of counselors and their clients, who will now have increased access to professional services and the protection that regulation assures." Information on implementation of the bill will be available on CCCL's website and questions can be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Today is a victory for so many counselors who have been advocating for licensure in California," said Richard Yep, ACA Executive Director, "This legislation will serve to regulate the profession of counseling and that is good for the profession and for consumers of mental heath services. Governor Schwarzenegger's signing of this bill caps an effort that began more than thirty years ago. We express our appreciation to all who were so critical in this important effort."
With more than 42,000 members, ACA is the nation's largest non-profit membership organization representing the counseling profession.