October 2020 STATE ADVOCACY UPDATES
TNAMFT lobbyist Jenny Ford and a host of members were virtually present on September 4, 2020 for the regulatory board proceedings. This was the first public meeting of the Tennessee Board for Professional Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Clinical Pastoral Therapists since December of 2019.
Patrick Powell reported the new tele-health law summary remained in process and was not deliverable at that time of the report, though he confirmed that this law would impact Titles 63 and 68 of Tennessee Code Annotated. Any discussion of tele-health regulations or the law would be delayed until the next quarterly board meeting, December 4, 2020. Mr. Powell also noted PC 738 which gives instructions prior to the destruction of public records.
Nathaniel Flinchbaugh, Board General Counsel, made a public statement, clarifying the following:
(1) MFTs with Temporary and Full LMFT licenses are both considered licensed therapists by the State of Tennessee and are therefore included the most recent tele-health law, which grants all licensed mental health providers access to tele-health for mental health services and supervision until April 1, 2022.
(2) Pre-licensed MFTs, graduates who are under supervision but do not have a Temporary License, are excluded from the provisions of the new tele-health law and may not use this modality to conduct mental health services or receive supervision when the respective executive orders expire. Pre-licensed therapists were instructed to apply for a Temporary License immediately. NOTE: On September 29, Governor Bill Lee issued Executive Order 63, which extends components of the state of emergency, including EO#36 and EO#50, until October 30, 2020.
(3) Rules Amendments for Professional Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Clinical Pastoral Counselors were received by the board as directed by HB2378/SB2287. These rules are in process and were not available for review at the time of the report.
President Robbie Hutchens read a statement on behalf our Board of Directors advocating for Pre-licensed MFTs. You can find that letter here. Also during the course of the board meeting, Legislative Committee member, Dr. Randall Phillips, made a presentation on a new online MFT jurisprudence exam, based on recommendations from the AAMFT Ethics Committee, TNAMFT Legislative Committee members, California ethics professionals, MFT faculty in Tennessee including Dr. Ed Gray, and three officials from the Tennessee Department of Health. Dr. Phillips was then appointed as MFT Jurisprudence Workgroup Chairperson by Board Chair Susan Hammonds-White.
Summary Submitted by TNAMFT Legislative Committee
6/29/2020: Executive Order #50
CE Requirement Changes Extended until August 29, 2020
7.4 In-person and live continuing education requirements are suspended for health care professionals. The provisions of the rules and policies adopted pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated, Titles 63 and 68, regarding continuing education credits and hours for health care professionals are hereby suspended to the extent necessary to suspend the requirement that any continuing education credits and hours be obtained in-person or at a live event for credit and hours earned from March 12, 2020, through the expiration of this Order. Such rules and policies are further suspended to the extent necessary to allow the Commissioner of Health to adopt policies necessary to comply with the suspension of in-person and live continuing education requirements, and the Commissioner of Health is hereby directed to adopt policies to that effect. Nothing in this provision suspends the requirements that health care professionals obtain a certain number of continuing education credits or hours.
41. Term and effective date. Except as otherwise provided herein, this Order shall remain in effect until 11 :59 p.m., Central Daylight Time, on August 29, 2020. Click HERE for EO #50
5/19/2020: Executive Order #36 - Additional Good News for Therapy Providers
The following new statutes have been given by Gov. Lee. Click HERE to see the entire order with details.
2. Out-of-state health care providers may practice in Tennessee.
7. Health care licenses, certificates, and registrations are extended until August 31, 2020.
7.1 Health care license application fees are due June 30, 2020.
7.2 Notarization is not required for health care applications.
7.4 Continuing education requirement are suspended so health care professionals can keep working.
9.2 Pre-license, post-degree mental or behavioral health professionals can provide telehealth services under supervision
NEW! 4/6/2020: Executive Orders from the Governor: Non-licensed Behavorial Health Provider
An executive order by Governor Lee now allows non-licensed individuals that have completed a master's or doctorate in a behavioral or mental health field to treat patients through telemedicine under supervision. See the details below.
ORDER #24: AN ORDER AMENDING EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 15 SUSPENDING PROVISIONS OF CERTAIN STATUTES AND RULES AND TAKING OTHER NECESSARY MEASURES IN ORDER TO FACILITATE THE TREATMENT AND CONTAINMENT OF COVID-19
The relevant provisions of Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 63, and related rules
are hereby suspended to the extent necessary to give the Commissioner of Health
the authority to allow persons who have completed a master's degree or doctoral
degree in a behavioral or mental health field, or in a field of study required for a
license allowing the individual to diagnose behavioral or mental health disorders,
to treat diagnosed behavioral or mental health conditions without a license and
through use of telemedicine services; provided, that the person is, at all times,
supervised by a person licensed under Title 63 with authorization to diagnose a
behavioral or mental health condition. The Commissioner of Health shall provide
the requisite form for practicing under this Paragraph 9 .2 on the Department of
Health's Health Professional Boards webpage.
March 26, 2020 - IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND RESOURCES REGARDING COVID-19
March 26, 2020
We are learning together what it means to be resilient and resourceful. It’s like when you were a kid and someone suddenly pushed you into the deep end of the pool for the first time. What do you do? You feel exhilarated and frightened. You swallow some water. You panic for a just bit.
But then seemingly out of nowhere - your hands start dog-paddling. You hear your friends cheering you on from the side of the pool. And you begin to relax and just keep swimming. You do whatever it takes to make your way to safety. You can see the ladder. It’s going to be OK.
Friends, the TNAMFT Board could not be more proud of you as clinicians during this time of crisis and uncertainty. Tennessee has been thrust into a rapid series of shifts starting with the devastation of the tornadoes followed by the displacing developments of COVID-19. As clinicians you have upped your game in the absence of clarity and order. We’ve seen you struggle, adapt, and grow.
Remember, we are right there with you. None of us has ever been in this kind of situation. What happens to you matters to us, and as a board we have been looking out for your interests during this tumultuous period. We are eager to share information that could prove useful to you as you transition into a new world of practice.
We have collected some resources that will help you navigate the uncertainty we all face. Click on the section header to access the resources.
1. AAMFT RESOURCE PAGE. Don’t forget that AAMFT has issued a wide range of resources for you to use as you navigate ethical and legal practice from this point on. We encourage you to slowly read through the information, plan your work and then work your plan. Check your email box often for updates from AAMFT and follow the AAMFT Facebook Page.
2. CDC STATEMENT ON MENTAL HEALTH CARE. The CDC has made recommendations specific to mental health care that are located here.
3. DIRECTIVES FROM THE TN DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH. We have received a flood of inquiries from MFTs about the ethical and legal practice of tele-health in our state. We forwarded these questions to our MFT licensing board representative and resubmitted them up the chain of command. Though we have received varied verbal directives from the licensing board, we have received no written response in return. However, the following statement was issued late last week by Commissioner Piercey from the Department of Health. Click the header link above to access it.
Department of Health
4. TELEHEALTH LAW IN TENNESSEE. There is existing law that enables the practice of tele-health in our state.
5. TELEHEALTH REGULATIONS IN TENNESSEE. At this time, there are no regulations that specifically govern the practice of tele-health for the three professions represented on our board. The current regulations that govern our practice in Tennessee can be found in the link above.
The AAMFT Ethics Code that is referenced in our current regulations.
6. LICENSURE APPLICATION. During this time of uncertainty, the best practice for submitting your applications for a temporary MFT license or a traditional MFT license is to fill out a printed copy and mail or fax in the application to the Tennessee Board for Professional Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Clinical Pastoral Therapists. We have been asked to request members to limit emails and calls to the licensure board.
7. REGIONAL NETWORKING. We know that resilience is relational, and we encourage you to reach out to each other for peer supervision. A Networking Task Force has been initiated to create safe spaces and support for you. We are concerned about our members located in remote areas, those not in a group practice or agency, and those who are not under the care of a supervisor.
While these planning efforts are underway, we encourage you contact your respective director on our TNAMFT Board in your geographic division. We are delighted to introduce and welcome our newly appointed director for East Tennessee, Connie Crossley.
EAST TENNESSEE DIRECTOR: Connie Crossley
Phone: (423) 312-6365
MIDDLE TENNESSEE DIRECTOR: Dr. Teri Murphy
Phone: (615) 308-1900
WEST TENNESSEE DIRECTOR: Barry Greenlee
Phone: (731) 694-6415
As you navigate this new territory, remember to consult reliable sources for information, consider best practices in your clinical judgment, and document your ethical decision-making all along the way. We will update you again when we receive reliable information.
On behalf of the board,
Robbie R. Hutchens
President, Tennessee Association for Marriage and Family Therapy