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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: March 17, 2015 01:43 PM
From: Senator Ryan P. Aument
To: All Senate members
Subject: Marriage and Family Therapist Title Protection
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation to provide title protection to Marriage and Family Therapists licensed by the State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors to ensure that only those with a professional license be permitted to fashion themselves as a marriage and family therapist in Pennsylvania. The bill will also address a discrepancy in the composition of the State Board.

Pennsylvania’s Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) are licensed by Act 39 of 1987 to assess and treat mental and emotional disorders within the context of marriage, couples, and family systems. MFTs are the only mental health professionals required to receive training in family therapy and family systems, a functionality that is highly effective in treating a wide range of emotional and behavior health problems. MFTs must undergo extensive education and training, clinical fieldwork, and pass rigorous exams to demonstrate professional competency to meet the highest ethical standards of the profession.

Currently, Act 39 of 1987 only protects the title of “Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists”. Without expanding the title protection to include various derivatives of the title such as “marriage and family therapists”, “family therapists”, or “couples therapists”, the general public is left vulnerable to the solicitation and delivery of this important mental health service by unlicensed, uneducated, and unqualified individuals. Further, protecting the title of marriage and family therapy is not only necessary to protect consumers against fraud but to also maintain the professionalism of these highly skilled and highly qualified mental health care providers.

In addition to providing title protection to MFTs, my legislation will also address a loophole in the composition of the State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors to require one seat to rotate between a marriage and family therapist and a professional counselor at the end of a two-year term.

If you have any questions regarding this legislation, please contact Stephanie Buchanan at 717-787-4420 or sbuchanan@pasen.gov.

Introduced as SB837