Chapter 18.225 RCW

MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELORS, MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPISTS, SOCIAL WORKERS

Sections

18.225.005Findings.
18.225.010Definitions.
18.225.020MisrepresentationLicensed by department.
18.225.030Limitation of chapter.
18.225.040Secretary's authority.
18.225.050Record of proceedings.
18.225.060Washington state mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, and social workers advisory committeeEstablishedComposition.
18.225.070Department of healthAdvice/assistance of advisory committee.
18.225.080Uniform disciplinary act.
18.225.090Issuance of licenseRequirements.
18.225.100Disclosure information.
18.225.105Disclosure of informationExceptions.
18.225.110Examinations.
18.225.120Application for licensingFee.
18.225.130Prior certification under chapter 18.19 RCW.
18.225.140Credentialed in another stateLicensed without examination.
18.225.145Associate licensingRequirements.
18.225.150Renewal of license or associate license, rulesFailure to renew.
18.225.160Limitation of chapter.
18.225.170Retired active licensesRules.
18.225.800Associate license renewalsReport.
18.225.900Severability2001 c 251.


18.225.005
Findings.

The legislature finds that licensed advanced social workers and licensed independent clinical social workers represent different specializations within the social work profession, with each license signifying the highest degree of licensure as it pertains to each specialty. The legislature further finds that practitioners in each specialty exercise independent judgment and operate independently within their area of practice.
Therefore, for purposes of job classification, licensed advanced social workers and licensed independent clinical social workers licensed under this chapter shall both be considered the top tier of licensure for the profession.



18.225.010
Definitions.

The definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter unless the context clearly requires otherwise.
(1) "Advanced social work" means the application of social work theory and methods, including:
(a) Emotional and biopsychosocial assessment;
(b) Psychotherapy under the supervision of a licensed independent clinical social worker, psychiatrist, psychologist, psychiatric advanced registered nurse practitioner, psychiatric nurse, or other mental health professionals as may be defined by rules adopted by the secretary;
(c) Case management;
(d) Consultation;
(e) Advocacy;
(f) Counseling; or
(g) Community organization.
(2) "Applicant" means a person who completes the required application, pays the required fee, is at least eighteen years of age, and meets any background check requirements and uniform disciplinary act requirements.
(3) "Associate" means a prelicensure candidate who has a graduate degree in a mental health field under RCW 18.225.090 and is gaining the supervision and supervised experience necessary to become a licensed independent clinical social worker, a licensed advanced social worker, a licensed mental health counselor, or a licensed marriage and family therapist.
(4) "Committee" means the Washington state mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, and social workers advisory committee.
(5) "Department" means the department of health.
(6) "Disciplining authority" means the department.
(7) "Independent clinical social work" means the diagnosis and treatment of emotional and mental disorders based on knowledge of human development, the causation and treatment of psychopathology, psychotherapeutic treatment practices, and social work practice as defined in advanced social work. Treatment modalities include but are not limited to diagnosis and treatment of individuals, couples, families, groups, or organizations.
(8) "Marriage and family therapy" means the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders, whether cognitive, affective, or behavioral, within the context of relationships, including marriage and family systems. Marriage and family therapy involves the professional application of psychotherapeutic and family systems theories and techniques in the delivery of services to individuals, couples, and families for the purpose of treating such diagnosed nervous and mental disorders. The practice of marriage and family therapy means the rendering of professional marriage and family therapy services to individuals, couples, and families, singly or in groups, whether such services are offered directly to the general public or through organizations, either public or private, for a fee, monetary or otherwise.
(9) "Mental health counseling" means the application of principles of human development, learning theory, psychotherapy, group dynamics, and etiology of mental illness and dysfunctional behavior to individuals, couples, families, groups, and organizations, for the purpose of treatment of mental disorders and promoting optimal mental health and functionality. Mental health counseling also includes, but is not limited to, the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental and emotional disorders, as well as the application of a wellness model of mental health.
(10) "Secretary" means the secretary of health or the secretary's designee.

NOTES:

Effective date2008 c 135 §§ 1, 2, 7-9, and 11-19: See note following RCW 18.19.020.



18.225.020
Misrepresentation—Licensed by department.

A person must not represent himself or herself as a licensed advanced social worker, a licensed independent clinical social worker, a licensed mental health counselor, a licensed marriage and family therapist, a licensed social work associateadvanced, a licensed social work associateindependent clinical, a licensed mental health counselor associate, or a licensed marriage and family therapist associate, without being licensed by the department.

NOTES:

Effective date2008 c 135 §§ 1, 2, 7-9, and 11-19: See note following RCW 18.19.020.



18.225.030
Limitation of chapter.

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit or restrict:
(1) The practice of marriage and family therapy, mental health counseling, or social work by an individual otherwise regulated under this title and performing services within the authorized scope of practice;
(2) The practice of marriage and family therapy, mental health counseling, or social work by an individual employed by the government of the United States or state of Washington while engaged in the performance of duties prescribed by the laws of the United States or state of Washington;
(3) The practice of marriage and family therapy, mental health counseling, or social work by a person who is a regular student in an educational program based on recognized national standards and approved by the secretary, and whose performance of services is pursuant to a regular course of instruction or assignments from an instructor and under the general supervision of the instructor;
(4) The practice of marriage and family therapy, mental health counseling, or social work under the auspices of a religious denomination, church, or religious organization.



18.225.040
Secretary's authority.

In addition to any other authority provided by law, the secretary has the authority to:
(1) Adopt rules under chapter 34.05 RCW necessary to implement this chapter. Any rules adopted shall be in consultation with the committee;
(2) Establish all licensing, examination, and renewal fees in accordance with RCW 43.70.250;
(3) Establish forms and procedures necessary to administer this chapter;
(4) Issue licenses to applicants who have met the education, training, and examination requirements for licensure and to deny a license to applicants who do not meet the requirements;
(5) Hire clerical, administrative, investigative, and other staff as needed to implement this chapter, and hire individuals licensed under this chapter to serve as examiners for any practical examinations;
(6) Administer and supervise the grading and taking of examinations for applicants for licensure;
(7) Determine which states have credentialing requirements substantially equivalent to those of this state, and issue licenses to individuals credentialed in those states without examinations;
(8) Implement and administer a program for consumer education in consultation with the committee;
(9) Adopt rules implementing a continuing education program in consultation with the committee;
(10) The office of crime victims advocacy shall supply the committee with information on methods of recognizing victims of human trafficking, what services are available for these victims, and where to report potential trafficking situations. The information supplied must be culturally sensitive and must include information relating to minor victims. The committee shall disseminate this information to licensees by: Providing the information on the committee's web site; including the information in newsletters; holding trainings at meetings attended by organization members; or through another distribution method determined by the committee. The committee shall report to the office of crime victims advocacy on the method or methods it uses to distribute information under this subsection;
(11) Maintain the official record of all applicants and licensees; and
(12) Establish by rule the procedures for an appeal of an examination failure.



18.225.050
Record of proceedings.

The secretary shall keep an official record of all proceedings. A part of the record shall consist of a register of all applicants for licensing under this chapter and the results of each application.



18.225.060
Washington state mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, and social workers advisory committee—Established—Composition.

The Washington state mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, and social workers advisory committee is established.
(1) The committee shall be comprised of nine members. Two members shall be licensed mental health counselors. Two members shall be licensed marriage and family therapists. One member shall be a licensed independent clinical social worker, and one member shall be a licensed advanced social worker. Three members must be consumers and represent the public at large and may not be licensed mental health care providers.
(2) Three members shall be appointed for a term of one year, three members shall be appointed for a term of two years, and three members shall be appointed for a term of three years. Subsequent members shall be appointed for terms of three years. A person must not serve as a member for more than two consecutive terms.
(3)(a) Each member must be a resident of the state of Washington.
(b) Each member must not hold an office in a professional association for mental health, social work, or marriage and family therapy and must not be employed by the state of Washington.
(c) Each professional member must have been actively engaged as a mental health counselor, marriage and family therapist, or social worker for five years immediately preceding appointment.
(d) The consumer members must represent the general public and be unaffiliated directly or indirectly with the professions licensed under this chapter.
(4) The secretary shall appoint the committee members.
(5) Committee members are immune from suit in an action, civil or criminal, based on the department's disciplinary proceedings or other official acts performed in good faith.
(6) Committee members shall be compensated in accordance with RCW 43.03.240, including travel expenses in carrying out his or her authorized duties in accordance with RCW 43.03.050 and 43.03.060.
(7) The committee shall elect a chair and vice chair.



18.225.070
Department of health—Advice/assistance of advisory committee.

The department of health may seek the advice and assistance of the advisory committee in administering this chapter, including, but not limited to:
(1) Advice and recommendations regarding the establishment or implementation of rules related to the administration of this chapter;
(2) Advice, recommendations, and consultation regarding case disposition guidelines and priorities related to unprofessional conduct cases regarding licensed mental health counselors, licensed clinical social workers, licensed advanced social workers, and licensed marriage and family therapists;
(3) Assistance and consultation of individual committee members as needed in the review, analysis, and disposition of reports of unprofessional conduct and consumer complaints;
(4) Assistance and recommendations to enhance consumer education; and
(5) Assistance and recommendations regarding any continuing education and continuing competency programs administered under the provisions of the [this] chapter.



18.225.080
Uniform disciplinary act.

The uniform disciplinary act, chapter 18.130 RCW, governs unlicensed practice, the issuance and denial of licensure, and the discipline of persons licensed under this chapter. The secretary shall be the disciplinary authority under this chapter.



18.225.090
Issuance of license—Requirements.

(1) The secretary shall issue a license to any applicant who demonstrates to the satisfaction of the secretary that the applicant meets the following education and experience requirements for the applicant's practice area.
(a) Licensed social work classifications:
(i) Licensed advanced social worker:
(A) Graduation from a master's or doctorate social work educational program accredited by the council on social work education and approved by the secretary based upon nationally recognized standards;
(B) Successful completion of an approved examination;
(C) Successful completion of a supervised experience requirement. The supervised experience requirement consists of a minimum of three thousand two hundred hours with supervision by an approved supervisor who has been licensed for at least two years. Of those supervised hours:
(I) At least ninety hours must include direct supervision as specified in this subsection by a licensed independent clinical social worker, a licensed advanced social worker, or an equally qualified licensed mental health professional. Of those hours of directly supervised experience:
(1) At least fifty hours must include supervision by a licensed advanced social worker or licensed independent clinical social worker; the other forty hours may be supervised by an equally qualified licensed mental health practitioner; and
(2) At least forty hours must be in one-to-one supervision and fifty hours may be in one-to-one supervision or group supervision;
(II) Distance supervision is limited to forty supervision hours; and
(III) Eight hundred hours must be in direct client contact; and
(D) Successful completion of continuing education requirements of thirty-six hours, with six in professional ethics.
(ii) Licensed independent clinical social worker:
(A) Graduation from a master's or doctorate level social work educational program accredited by the council on social work education and approved by the secretary based upon nationally recognized standards;
(B) Successful completion of an approved examination;
(C) Successful completion of a supervised experience requirement. The supervised experience requirement consists of a minimum of four thousand hours of experience, over a period of not less than three years, with supervision by an approved supervisor who has been licensed for at least two years and, as specified in this subsection, may be either a licensed independent clinical social worker who has had at least one year of experience in supervising the clinical social work of others or an equally qualified licensed mental health practitioner. Of those supervised hours:
(I) At least one thousand hours must be direct client contact;
(II) Hours of direct supervision must include:
(1) At least one hundred thirty hours by a licensed mental health practitioner;
(2) At least seventy hours of supervision with a licensed independent clinical social worker meeting the qualifications under this subsection (1)(a)(ii)(C); the other sixty hours may be supervised by an equally qualified licensed mental health practitioner; and
(3) At least sixty hours must be in one-to-one supervision and seventy hours may be in one-to-one supervision or group supervision; and
(III) Distance supervision is limited to sixty supervision hours; and
(D) Successful completion of continuing education requirements of thirty-six hours, with six in professional ethics.
(b) Licensed mental health counselor:
(i) Graduation from a master's or doctoral level educational program in mental health counseling or a related discipline from a college or university approved by the secretary based upon nationally recognized standards;
(ii) Successful completion of an approved examination;
(iii) Successful completion of a supervised experience requirement. The experience requirement consists of a minimum of thirty-six months full-time counseling or three thousand hours of postgraduate mental health counseling under the supervision of a qualified licensed mental health counselor or equally qualified licensed mental health practitioner, in an approved setting. The three thousand hours of required experience includes a minimum of one hundred hours spent in immediate supervision with the qualified licensed mental health counselor, and includes a minimum of one thousand two hundred hours of direct counseling with individuals, couples, families, or groups; and
(iv) Successful completion of continuing education requirements of thirty-six hours, with six in professional ethics.
(c) Licensed marriage and family therapist:
(i) Graduation from a master's degree or doctoral degree educational program in marriage and family therapy or graduation from an educational program in an allied field equivalent to a master's degree or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy approved by the secretary based upon nationally recognized standards;
(ii) Successful passage of an approved examination;
(iii) Successful completion of a supervised experience requirement. The experience requirement consists of a minimum of two calendar years of full-time marriage and family therapy. Of the total supervision, one hundred hours must be with a licensed marriage and family therapist with at least five years' clinical experience; the other one hundred hours may be with an equally qualified licensed mental health practitioner. Total experience requirements include:
(A) A minimum of three thousand hours of experience, one thousand hours of which must be direct client contact; at least five hundred hours must be gained in diagnosing and treating couples and families; plus
(B) At least two hundred hours of qualified supervision with a supervisor. At least one hundred of the two hundred hours must be one-on-one supervision, and the remaining hours may be in one-on-one or group supervision.
Applicants who have completed a master's program accredited by the commission on accreditation for marriage and family therapy education of the American association for marriage and family therapy may be credited with five hundred hours of direct client contact and one hundred hours of formal meetings with an approved supervisor; and
(iv) Successful completion of continuing education requirements of thirty-six hours, with six in professional ethics.
(2) The department shall establish by rule what constitutes adequate proof of meeting the criteria. Only rules in effect on the date of submission of a completed application of an associate for her or his license shall apply. If the rules change after a completed application is submitted but before a license is issued, the new rules shall not be reason to deny the application.
(3) In addition, applicants shall be subject to the grounds for denial of a license or issuance of a conditional license under chapter 18.130 RCW.

NOTES:

Retroactive application2008 c 141: "This act is remedial and curative in nature and applies retroactively to July 22, 2003." [ 2008 c 141 § 2.]



18.225.100
Disclosure information.

A person licensed under this chapter must provide clients at the commencement of any program of treatment with accurate disclosure information concerning the practice, in accordance with rules adopted by the department, including the right of clients to refuse treatment, the responsibility of clients to choose the provider and treatment modality which best suits their needs, and the extent of confidentiality provided by this chapter. The disclosure information must also include the license holder's professional education and training, the therapeutic orientation of the practice, the proposed course of treatment where known, financial requirements, and such other information as required by rule. The disclosure must be acknowledged in writing by the client and license holder.



18.225.105
Disclosure of information—Exceptions.

A person licensed under this chapter shall not disclose the written acknowledgment of the disclosure statement pursuant to RCW 18.225.100, nor any information acquired from persons consulting the individual in a professional capacity when the information was necessary to enable the individual to render professional services to those persons except:
(1) With the written authorization of that person or, in the case of death or disability, the person's personal representative;
(2) If the person waives the privilege by bringing charges against the person licensed under this chapter;
(3) In response to a subpoena from the secretary. The secretary may subpoena only records related to a complaint or report under RCW 18.130.050;
(4) As required under chapter 26.44 or 74.34 RCW or RCW 71.05.360 (8) and (9); or
(5) To any individual if the person licensed under this chapter reasonably believes that disclosure will avoid or minimize an imminent danger to the health or safety of the individual or any other individual; however, there is no obligation on the part of the provider to so disclose.

NOTES:

FindingsIntentSeverabilityApplicationConstructionCaptions, part headings, subheadings not lawAdoption of rulesEffective dates2005 c 504: See notes following RCW 71.05.027.
AlphabetizationCorrection of references2005 c 504: See note following RCW 71.05.020.
Licensees under chapter 18.225 RCWSubject to chapter 70.02 RCW: RCW 70.02.180.



18.225.110
Examinations.

(1) The date and location of examinations shall be established by the secretary. Applicants who have been found by the secretary to meet the other requirements for licensure shall be scheduled for the next examination following the filing of the application. The secretary shall establish by rule the examination application deadline.
(2) The secretary or the secretary's designees shall examine each applicant, by means determined most effective, on subjects appropriate to the scope of practice, as applicable. Such examinations shall be limited to the purpose of determining whether the applicant possesses the minimum skill and knowledge necessary to practice competently.
(3) The examination papers, all grading of the papers, and the grading of any practical work shall be preserved for a period of not less than one year after the secretary has made and published the decisions. All examinations shall be conducted under fair and wholly impartial methods.
(4) The secretary may approve an examination prepared or administered by a private testing agency or association of licensing agencies for use by an applicant in meeting the licensing requirements.



18.225.120
Application for licensing—Fee.

Applications for licensing shall be submitted on forms provided by the secretary. The secretary may require any information and documentation which reasonably relates to the need to determine whether the applicant meets the criteria for licensing provided for in this chapter and chapter 18.130 RCW. Each applicant shall pay a fee determined by the secretary under RCW 43.70.250. The fee shall accompany the application.



18.225.130
Prior certification under chapter 18.19 RCW.

Any person certified under chapter 18.19 RCW who has met the applicable experience and education requirements under chapter 18.19 RCW prior to July 22, 2001, is eligible for a license as an advanced social worker, an independent clinical social worker, a marriage and family therapist, or a mental health counselor under this chapter without taking the examination.



18.225.140
Credentialed in another state—Licensed without examination.

An applicant holding a credential in another state may be licensed to practice in this state without examination if the secretary determines that the other state's credentialing standards are substantially equivalent to the licensing standards in this state.



18.225.145
Associate licensing—Requirements.

(1) The secretary shall issue an associate license to any applicant who demonstrates to the satisfaction of the secretary that the applicant meets the following requirements for the applicant's practice area and submits a declaration that the applicant is working toward full licensure in that category:
(a) Licensed social worker associateadvanced or licensed social worker associateindependent clinical: Graduation from a master's degree or doctoral degree educational program in social work accredited by the council on social work education and approved by the secretary based upon nationally recognized standards.
(b) Licensed mental health counselor associate: Graduation from a master's degree or doctoral degree educational program in mental health counseling or a related discipline from a college or university approved by the secretary based upon nationally recognized standards.
(c) Licensed marriage and family therapist associate: Graduation from a master's degree or doctoral degree educational program in marriage and family therapy or graduation from an educational program in an allied field equivalent to a master's degree or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy approved by the secretary based upon nationally recognized standards.
(2) Associates may not provide independent social work, mental health counseling, or marriage and family therapy for a fee, monetary or otherwise. Associates must work under the supervision of an approved supervisor.
(3) Associates shall provide each client or patient, during the first professional contact, with a disclosure form according to RCW 18.225.100, disclosing that he or she is an associate under the supervision of an approved supervisor.
(4) The department shall adopt by rule what constitutes adequate proof of compliance with the requirements of this section.
(5) Applicants are subject to the denial of a license or issuance of a conditional license for the reasons set forth in chapter 18.130 RCW.
(6) An associate license may be renewed no more than six times, provided that the applicant for renewal has successfully completed eighteen hours of continuing education in the preceding year. Beginning with the second renewal, at least six of the continuing education hours in the preceding two years must be in professional ethics.

NOTES:

Effective date2008 c 135 §§ 1, 2, 7-9, and 11-19: See note following RCW 18.19.020.



18.225.150
Renewal of license or associate license, rules—Failure to renew.

The secretary shall establish by rule the procedural requirements and fees for renewal of a license or associate license. Failure to renew shall invalidate the license or associate license and all privileges granted by the license. If an associate license has lapsed, the person shall submit an updated declaration, in accordance with rules adopted by the department, that the person is working toward full licensure. If a license has lapsed for a period longer than three years, the person shall demonstrate competence to the satisfaction of the secretary by taking continuing education courses, or meeting other standards determined by the secretary. If an associate license has lapsed, the person shall submit an updated declaration, in accordance with rules adopted by the department, that the person is working toward full licensure.

NOTES:

Effective date2008 c 135 §§ 1, 2, 7-9, and 11-19: See note following RCW 18.19.020.



18.225.160
Limitation of chapter.

This chapter shall not be construed as permitting the administration or prescription of drugs or in any way infringing upon the practice of medicine and surgery as defined in chapter 18.71 or 18.57 RCW, or in any way infringing upon the practice of psychology as defined in chapter 18.83 RCW, or restricting the scope of the practice of counseling for those registered under chapter 18.19 RCW, or restricting the scope of practice of persons licensed under this chapter.



18.225.170
Retired active licenses—Rules.

The secretary of the department of health shall promulgate rules relating to issuance of a retired active license under RCW 18.130.250 for mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, advanced social workers, and independent clinical social workers.



18.225.800
Associate license renewals—Report.

To assess whether limitations on associate license renewals may be limiting the number of people able to complete the licensing process within statutory deadlines, the secretary shall report to the appropriate committees of the legislature on October 1st of each year, beginning in 2014 and ending in 2020, the number of associate licenses that have been renewed four, five, or six times.



18.225.900
Severability—2001 c 251.

If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected.