The Most Frequent Questions About the Counseling Compact

Dec 7, 2023

The Counseling Compact is making tremendous progress. On June 29, the governor of Connecticut signed the legislation into law, making Connecticut the 30th state to join the compact. What is particularly noteworthy is that 28 states have joined the Counseling Compact in the past two years, which is unprecedented progress among all compacts. We plan to continue our efforts on two fronts this upcoming year: first, by actively working with the states that have not yet enacted the compact and second, by supporting the Compact Commission as it moves toward granting privileges.

With so much happening, I know many of you have questions about the compact and what it means for you and your practice. Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions we receive about the compact.

What is a privilege to practice?

A privilege is the functional equivalent of a license and allows counselors to practice in another compact state. It is not called a license because the process to obtain a privilege is different than the process for obtaining a license.

Question and answer imageWhen will I be able to get a privilege to practice in another compact state?

This is the most frequent question we are asked. The target date is now mid-2024, but that depends on how quickly the Compact Commission can obtain and implement a custom database, have the state licensing boards enter all the data, and put the policies and procedures in place.

The foundation of the compact is this database. Information about all licensees will be entered into the database so counselors will not have to submit their documentation when applying for a privilege. When a counselor applies to the commission for a privilege to practice in a compact state, the information in the database will determine their eligibility and then that information will be sent to the participating state that will issue the privilege.

How can I obtain a privilege to practice?

The application process has not yet been developed. It is likely that an electronic application will be developed and hosted on the commission’s website.

My state doesn’t belong to the Counseling Compact; can I still get a privilege to practice in a compact state?

The short answer is no. You cannot participate in the compact. All aspects of the compact are tied to the counselor’s home state license, which is defined as a license issued by the state of their legal residence. If your home state is not a member of the compact, then you are ineligible to participate even if you hold a valid license from another state that does belong to the compact. But you can still apply for a license in the state where you want to practice through traditional application procedures.

I’ve been practicing for many years but was licensed before my state started requiring 60 hours for a master’s degree. Do I still meet the current requirements to get a privilege?

If a state currently licenses counselors according to the requirements and you meet the other criteria — you are able to practice independently; are able to assess, diagnose and treat behavioral health conditions; have a National Provider Identifier or Social Security number; have passed an FBI background check; and have had no encumbrances on your license for the past two years — you are exempted from the 60-hour requirement and can apply for a privilege.

Do I have to apply for a privilege to practice if I want to work in another compact state?

No, participating in the compact is voluntary. You are free to apply for a license in any state where you wish to practice.

What if the state where I hold a privilege has a different scope of practice from my home state?

You must adhere to the scope of practice of the state where you are practicing. If your home state allows you to do something that the remote state does not, even if you are competent to do so, you must adhere to the remote state’s scope of practice. If the remote state allows something your home state does not, you must

continue to practice ethically and within the bounds of your competence.

What is this going to cost me?

States may charge for the privilege to practice in their state just as they would if you were applying for a license. Fees will be set once the process begins. We are currently unsure if the cost for a privilege will be lower than the cost of a license, but the process will be much easier.

What about military spouses?

Military spouses may decide which state they wish to designate as their home state. The designated state remains the home state as long as the spouse is on active or reserve duty. Once the spouse retires, the process is the same for the military spouse as for all other counselors.

What about adverse actions?

Only the home state can take action against a counselor. But if there is a problem in a state where the counselor holds a privilege to practice, the remote state can suspend the privilege and will inform every state where the counselor holds a privilege via the database. Privilege states may revoke the privilege but cannot take action against the license.

Will my license and privilege have different expiration dates?

No, counselors’ privileges to practice will expire at the same time as their home license because counselors must hold a valid license from their home state. Remote states would not want a counselor practicing in their state with an expired home state license.