Support Gestalt Therapy Now! Urgent Concerns Re: Article 163 of NYS Education Law sign now

Urgent Concerns re: Article 163 of NYS Education Law

We are writing to you with grave and urgent concerns regarding the efforts of the State Department to produce and implement regulations for the new Mental Health Practitioners Law, Article 163 of the New York State Education Law. While we support the intention to protect the public by insuring that anyone seeking psychotherapy falls into the hands of a competent, experienced and ethical practitioner, we strongly believe that the aim of protecting the public from harm will be best served by drafting the regulations, and particularly the grandparenting provisions, in a way that minimizes the disruption to the thousands of clients currently benefitting from psychotherapeutic work with therapists who will not be licensable when the law takes effect. We have developed several specific recommendations regarding the content of the draft regulations that we believe will go some distance toward ameliorating the substantial harm that will be done to those currently receiving and providing therapy in modalities that do not fall into any of the new licensable categories.

1) The period during which nonexempt persons may practice must be extended to five years to prevent the disruption of thousands of existing psychotherapeutic relationships -- which both parties thereto entered in good faith prior to this law's enactment. Such an extended period will protect existing clients and allow the psychotherapist to obtain the necessary prerequisites imposed on the profession by this law. It will further allow sufficient time for already chartered institutes to reconfigure their curricula, admissions policies, supervision requirements and staffing in accordance with the new requirements.

2) The regulations must provide criteria for evaluating chartered programs, such as Gestalt programs, Jungian programs and other programs that do not easily fall under the descriptions of any of the four new professions defined by the law. The regulations must clarify how such programs might become qualified to grant licenses without sacrificing the integrity of their own theoretical orientations and methodologies.

3) Individuals who have an appropriate Masters degree and receive licensed supervision provided as a part of a qualified postgraduate training program should be allowed to count those hours towards licensing. Effective supervision depends on the qualifications, expertise and commitment of the supervisor, and training institutes should be considered a qualified setting for individuals to receive their necessary clinical experience.

4) Individuals who have alternative Masters degrees (e.g. Education, Philosophy, Industrial Psychology, Educational Psychology, Dance or Music) in combination with prescribed clinically oriented classes and other important work experiences should be considered qualified to fall under the Counseling, Marriage and Family or Creative Arts Therapy Licenses and be able to receive their clinical experience while under licensed supervision within a postgraduate training institute.

5) Supervisors being considered for grandparenting under the new law should be deemed qualified as supervisors along with currently licensed social workers and psychologists. In other words, the supervision they have provided prior to their own licensing should count towards licensing for those they have supervised.

By incorporating our recommendations, the State Education Department will go some distance toward protecting the interests, rights and health of thousands of people - clients, trainees, mental health practitioners and educators alike. By unjustly discriminating against therapeutic orientations that cannot be standardized or easily quantified or that have not heretofore had a strong lobby, the new legislation already promises to create undue and untold hardship for thousands. By adopting our recommendations, the State Education Department can ameliorate the severity and suddenness of these hardships and thereby best serve the public interest. In order to facilitate the prompt and careful review of our recommendations, we have refrained from lengthy explanations of our views. However, at the request of the Department, we would be glad to submit a full explanation.

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Emma McculloughBy:
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Petition target:
David Hamilton, Office of the Professions, Board for Mental Health Practitioners, New York State Department of Education

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