I hope that 2020 has already provided robust relational and vocational opportunities for you. There is much going on behind the scenes at TNAMFT. I am excited to share these important updates with you!
As many of you know, our TNAMFT Board has focused on assessing member needs in 2019. We offered qualitative feedback measures at the World Cafe and Town Hall events last March and offered quantitative feedback measures in our first state-wide survey of MFTs in September. Fascinating results! We are also reviewing professional association trends at the national level as well as organizational development data from How the Mighty Fall by renowned researcher, Jim Collins. It’s clear to us that to remain relevant and sustainable in the future, we must slow down and take this informed and intentional approach to reinventing ourselves as an association. And that’s one part of the innovation that is going on behind the scenes.
Threats to the Profession
Another part of those innovations emanated from a legislative crisis in 2016, where unwelcome and unnecessary government overreach forced our organization to take unprecedented measures to enlist a part-time lobbyist to protect and strengthen our profession. This was an enormous wakeup call to us! The 2016 crisis required TNAMFT to make big budgetary shifts in both volunteer time and revenue in 2017. As you would expect, these necessary changes in priorities has in turn has impacted our ability to offer other membership benefits. However, the September 2019 state-wide membership survey assured us that advocacy should remain a top priority moving forward.
Though the 2016 crisis has prompted TNAMFT to carefully monitor and manage these matters, it has now reemerged as a much larger threat to the profession - legislative and regulatory. In short, our proposed MFT rules changes are now vulnerable, given that legislators have made public threats not only to amend and remove our national code of ethics, but also replace it with an internally written code of conduct. As promised, by Senate Government Operations Chairman Kerry Roberts, the Rules Omnibus Bill was filed but did not include the Licensing Board’s proposed ethics regulations for LPCs, LMFTs and LCPTs. SB2287(Roberts)/HB2378 (Daniel). When enacted the bill will sunset current ethics regs for professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, and licensed clinical pastoral therapists.
Our interconnectedness to our AAMFT Code of Ethics is pivotal to our professional viability. I want to encourage you to read the 2017 TNAMFT and AAMFT opposition letters which address the same essential threat. These letters highlight some of the potential consequences of the removal of our national code of ethics.
Increase in Lobbying Efforts
Therefore, our TNAMFT Legislative Committee and TNAMFT Board unanimously approved a significant financial increase in our lobbyist agreement in November of 2019 in order to defend our hard-won professional identity and viability. TNAMFT applied for a large advocacy grant in the fall of 2019 to seek financial support from AAMFT. We are ecstatic to announce that AAMFT awarded $26,500.00 in grants to directly support our threat work on the ground. The TNAMFT Legislative Committee continues to collaborate tightly with lobbyist Jenny Ford, and student and member advocates enthusiastically reinforced our defense efforts at our Day on the Hill last week.
Keep in mind that our budget is tight, as this financial award will not come through until the end of 2020, and TNAMFT requires additional revenue to pay our expenses until that time. We are cutting back and creating new revenue streams to adjust to the current needs. Keep your eyes out for TNAMFT Legislative Alerts and Fundraising Campaigns, so that you might actively join us in defending our profession.
2020 Annual Conference
Finally, we are pleased to announce that TNAMFT and Lipscomb University will co-host our annual conference on Friday, May 15, 2020 at Lipscomb University’s Shinn Center. Dr. Sean Davis will present “How to Open Your Dream Private Practice.” Conference details and registration are forthcoming. TNAMFT is grateful to once again partner with one of our many outstanding marriage and family therapy graduate programs in the state of Tennessee. Belmont University graciously co-hosted our conference last year.
Your support and engagement has increased over the last year, as evidenced in surveys, votes, fund-raisers, membership renewal, and membership recruitment. Thank you for staying the course when the going got tough.
Championing the Profession,
Robbie Robinson Hutchens, LMFT
Tennessee Association for Marriage and Family Therapy