I love when Spring arrives in New England. "It comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb" as the saying goes. I have good news to report in my neck of the words. I wrote in the past about the inequities in the mental health system for children on commercial health insurances who need intensive services and can't access them. I am glad to hear that there is proposed legislation in Massachusetts to mandate that commercial insurance cover children who need intensive care coordiation for their mental health needs. What this acutally means is that counselors and social workers would get paid for doing collateral services such as going to school meetings and calling primary care doctors on behalf of their clients. At the present time, providers are unreimbursed for their time if they conduct these extra services outside of the counseling parameter for their clients. Over one thirty five organizations co-sponsor this legislation. The state chapter of the National Social Work Association is one the organizations co-sponsoring this bill. However, I don't know if the state chapter for Mental Health Counselors Association is co-sponsoring this bill as there is no information on their website (www.mamhca.org) that says they do. If anyone who belongs to this organization knows, please email me privately. If the bill passes, all children and not just those on Mass Health (medicaid) will receive due diligence for their mental health needs.
I am so glad to hear that the ACA is forming an Ethics Revision Task Force. I would like this Task Force to implement regulations on ethical billing practices. For example, there is some professionals who bill for an hour when they see their clients for only thirty minutes. The rationale is twofold: 1) They have productivity requirements to meet or lose their benefits and salaries if they don't meet their monthly quotas and; 2) Some agencies/practitioners operate on the principle if your client wishes to end thirty minutes early or comes late, you have the right to bill for an hour. I look forward to debate on this controversial issue. Another area to look at is Section F.11.c.Multicultural/
Diversity Competence. This area needs to include what cultural competencies are required to be taught to graduate students. Right now, some counseling programs across the country are not teaching their students to be disability sensitive when counseling those with physical and psychiatric disabilities. I speak from professional experiences working with graduate interns and fellow colleagues who have clients with disabilities. I welcome again your feedback on this topic area. The Task Force needs to look at how social networking mediums such as Facebook; Twitter; and Linkedin can affect the counselor-client relationshp. It is obvious that counselor should not "friend" their clients on Facebook. However, if you counsel a fellow colleague who wants to be in your linkedin group, what do you say? Can counselors/agencies twitter their clients on announcements? What do you think?
I wish everyone a Happy Easter and Passover in April.
Robbin Miller is a counselor who specializes in mindfulness meditation; Positive Psychology; and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies; and is also a volunteer cable access producer and co-host of her show, "Miller Chat" in Massachusetts.