CounselorsEmpowerACA Government Affairs Blog

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Aug 27, 2019

Urgent: Contact the Iowa Licensure Board About New Regulations

The Iowa Board of Behavioral Health is considering changes to its Educational Qualifications for Mental Health Counselors. In the Professional Orientation curriculum, the Board proposes to replace the American Counseling Association with the American Mental Health Counselors Association as the primary one to be studied, despite ACA’s much longer history and larger membership.

More significantly, under the Ethical Standards curriculum, the Board proposes to replace ACA with AMHCA as the source of counselor ethics to be studied. ACA’s Code of Ethics is the standard across the nation. Moreover, it is the code of ethics adopted and used by the Iowa Board of Behavioral Health. There is no logical reason to adopt the code of ethics of one association for all counselors to work under and then require students to learn about the ethical standards of a different association.  

Finally, the proposal would greatly limit the ACA and NBCC-approved online conferences and courses available for continuing education credits.  

If you are affected by licensure in Iowa, please send the attached message to the Board of Behavioral Health immediately at this address by September 1st:    You can add your own thoughts on these three recommended changes, as well as your experience and work setting.


To the Iowa Board of Behavioral Sciences::

I am concerned about three of the drafted pre-notice rule changes to the Board of Behavioral Science’s rules. The first would replace the American Counseling Association (ACA) with the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) as the primary organization to be studied under Professional Orientation (Section 31.6(2)a.(10)3 on page 9 and 31.6(2)b(1)6 on page 10). This seems ill-advised as ACA is the much larger and older organization. In fact, AMHCA was a division of ACA until just this year. I believe it makes more sense for students to primarily study ACA when learning about professional organizations.

More importantly, the second change would replace ACA with AMHCA as the source of ethical standards to be studied, including “their evolution, legal issues, and applications to various professional activities.”  This is a puzzling change because the Board of Behavioral Health goes by the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics. It makes more sense to continue to study the ethical standards of the association whose code of ethics you have adopted, rather than those of the one you have not.  (Section 31.6(2)a(10)4 on page 9 and 31.6(2)b(1)10 on page 10.)

Finally, the Chapter 32 rule changes would remove all ACA and National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) - approved distance conferences and courses. ACA and NBCC provide opportunities for continuing education sessions through video conference that are especially valuable for counselors in rural areas.   

In short, I am opposed to all of these changes and I hope the Board will reconsider them, and ultimately, not adopt them.

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  1. 2 Jacquelyne Joens 29 Aug

    FYI - I am a member of both organizations.  I find value in each, but especially the ACA.  I will be sending the above recommendation to the board.

    I think it may be important to note that I see one of the Board members is the former president of IMHCA.  I believe there is a conflict of interest and no objectivity.  That is disturbing as well.

  2. 1 Marilyn Holt 30 Aug
    WOW, to change from the  ACA to the other that was a division of the ACA up until just last year is something I simply cannot understand.  I am currently working on my Master's degree in Clinical and Mental Health Counseling and cannot fathom not using the ACA. WeZ32FH


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