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12 23Sat11012014

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New law reforms licensure procedure

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BILL 48, which reforms the licensure of professional counselors and therapists, is now Public Law No. 32-054 after Gov. Eddie Calvo signed the bill into law over the weekend.

The new law, introduced by Sen. Rory Respicio, defines the educational and professional requirements for licensed professional counselors, licensed mental health counselors, and marriage and family therapists.

Respicio said the legislation is the result of 10 years of research, negotiation and compromise, including ongoing efforts to consult with key stakeholders such as members of NASW-Guam Chapter, the Guam Psychological Association, and the University of Guam Social Work, Clinical Psychology, and Counseling programs.

Respicio said all of these groups worked diligently to address all of their concerns and reach a consensus that benefits a collective professional community and, most importantly, the individuals and families they all serve.

The current license for Individual, Marriage, and Family Therapist (IMFT), was created in 1989 when there were very few master’s level mental health providers from a variety of backgrounds, including social work, counseling, psychology, and related fields. Since then, Respicio said Guam's mental health community has outgrown a “one-size-fits-all” license.

About 60 licensed IMFTs from a variety of backgrounds now allows for more specific licensing based on national standards, common in the U.S. mainland. Equally important, Respicio said, educational opportunities for these specialty licenses are now available to local residents.

P.L. 32-054 refines and updates the current Allied Health regulations incorporating qualifications and exceptions to licensure, scope of practice, client confidentiality, and continuing educational requirements.

The grandparent clauses include providing flexible options to ensure that currently licensed IMFTs will be able to continue practicing. The new requirements would go into effect two years from the passage of this bill into law, giving graduate students and interns time to transition.

“I am grateful to Sen. Dennis G. Rodriguez Jr. who expeditiously heard this bill, to my senatorial colleagues for supporting it, and to Gov. Calvo for signing it into law,” Respicio said in a statement.

P.L. 32-054, was co-sponsored by Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz and Sen. Thomas Ada. Respicio also expressed his thanks to members from of Association of Individual, Marriage, and Family Therapists of Guam, especially its president Rosemarie B. Camacho, S. Wayne Butler, and the Guam Department of Behavioral Health and Wellness Center’s Maresa Aguon and Nadine Cepeda.

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