2018 GA Composite Board Rule Changes for Counselors, Social Workers & MFT’s Pt. 1 Diagnosis Rule


I am an LPC in GA and a certified supervisor (CPCS & ACS). I am not a Georgia Composite Board member and I do not speak on behalf of the board. I am a current member of the Licensed Professional Counselors Association of GA and a former LPCA-GA board member. However, I also do not speak on behalf of the LPCA-GA.

I am sharing my impressions on how a few recent rule changes will impact allied professionals in GA for 2018 and in the years moving forward. It is each of our responsibility to read, interpret and follow licensing board rules. For those of us who also supervise, we are charged with assisting and guiding our supervisees.

The Diagnosis Rule

SB 319 was signed in April 2016. This law expanded the right to render mental health diagnosis to LPC’s. It also stipulated minimum education requirements. People who were licensed for 10 years by the date that the Governor of Georgia signed the bill were “grand-parented” into exemption from the educational requirements.

The licensing board (GA Composite Board for LPC’s, SW’s & MFT’s) was charged with setting the educational standards and having a plan in place by January 1, 2017. Those impacted by the ruling (licencees who had not taken a 3 semester hour psychopathology/abnormal psych/diagnosis course covering the DSM in graduate school) would have until January 1, 2018 to complete the educational requirements set forth by the GA Composite Board.

The Role of Professional Associations

Georgia has four professional associations who were authorized by the composite board to develop educational standards. Those 4 organizations are:

The professional associations proposed 45 hours of continuing education on diagnosis and the DSM-V with specific curriculum requirements to meet the criteria.

Timing is Everything

The time frames to meet these criteria were challenging for all concerned:

  • the composite board;
  • the professional associations;
  • continuing education providers; and
  • licensees who needed to fulfill the requirements.

It was essentially mid third quarter in 2017 before everything would come together.

  • The professional associations created a strategy and curriculum for CE’s (continuing education).
  • The composite board reviewed it and approved it.
  • Then the governor had to sign off on it.
  • Next the licensees would need to sign up for the CE’s and complete them.

Many people met the requirement by the January 1, 2018 deadline. However, many others may not have met the CE requirement.

If Someone Didn’t Get the CE’s…What next?

It is unclear exactly what will happen for those who didn’t complete the 45 CE’s on diagnosis and the DSM-V within the allowed time frame. The risk of not endeavoring to meet the diagnosis education criteria is akin to breaking the law. It has been my recommendation that those licencees seek to enroll in a graduate course on diagnosis. It is unclear, but also possible that taking a diagnosis course from a Marriage and Family Therapy Training Institute might also be acceptable.

Either way, a person who was licensed when this rule passed (but not 10 years licensed when it passed and didn’t have a psychopathology course) could come under scrutiny if a formal complaint regarding them is ever lodged with the Composite Board for any reason.

Recent Graduates and Future Graduates

Recent and future graduates pursuing licensure will need to have completed a 3 semester hour psychopathology course in order to pursue licensure in Georgia. This means that some recent graduates will need to seek this course from either their own or another graduate program prior to pursuing their licensure.

Counseling graduates will also have additional board rule updates to consider as they approach licensure requirements. Those updates will be discussed further in Part 2 of this topic “2018 GA Composite Board Rule Changes for Counselors, Social Workers & MFT’s.”

Copyright © 2018 Ruby Blow. All rights reserved.

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