The Vermont Statutes Online

Title 26: Professions and Occupations

Chapter 65: CLINICAL MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELORS

§ 3261. Definitions

As used in this chapter:

(1) "Board" means the Board of Allied Mental Health Practitioners established under this chapter.

(2) "Clinical mental health counseling" means providing, for a consideration, professional counseling services that are primarily drawn from the theory and practice of psychotherapy and the discipline of clinical mental health counseling, involving the application of principles of psychotherapy, human development, learning theory, group dynamics, and the etiology of mental illness and dysfunctional behavior to individuals, couples, families, and groups, for the purposes of treating psychopathology and promoting optimal mental health. The practice of clinical mental health counseling includes diagnosis and treatment of mental conditions or psychiatric disabilities and emotional disorders, psychoeducational techniques aimed at the prevention of such conditions or disabilities, consultations to individuals, couples, families, groups, organizations, and communities, and clinical research into more effective psychotherapeutic treatment modalities.

(3) "Clinical mental health counselor" means a person who is licensed to practice clinical mental health counseling under this chapter.

(4) "Disciplinary action" includes any action taken by the Board against a licensed clinical mental health counselor or applicant premised on a finding that the licensed clinical mental health counselor or applicant has engaged in unprofessional conduct. The term includes all sanctions of any kind, including obtaining injunctions, refusing to grant or renew a license, suspending or revoking a license, and issuing warnings.

(5) "Allied mental health fields" include those fields for which training includes coursework in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders.

(6) "Psychotherapy" means the provision of treatment, diagnosis, evaluation, or counseling services to individuals or groups, for a consideration, for the purpose of alleviating mental disorders. "Psychotherapy" involves the application of therapeutic techniques to understand unconscious or conscious motivation, resolve emotional, relationship, or attitudinal conflicts, or modify behavior which interferes with effective emotional, social, or mental functioning. "Psychotherapy" follows a systematic procedure of psychotherapeutic intervention which takes place on a regular basis over a period of time, or, in the case of evaluation and brief psychotherapies, in a single or limited number of interventions. If a person is employed by or under contract with the Agency of Human Services, this definition does not apply to persons with less than a master's degree, to persons providing life skills training or instruction, such as learning to make friends, to handle social situations, to do laundry, and to develop community awareness, or interactions of employees or contracted individuals with clients whose job description or contract specifications do not specifically mention "psychotherapy" as a job responsibility or duty. (Added 1987, No. 245 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 4(b), (d); 1993, No. 98, § 8; 1993, No. 222 (Adj. Sess.), § 9; 1997, No. 40, § 50; 1997, No. 145 (Adj. Sess.), § 22; 2013, No. 96 (Adj. Sess.), § 177.)


§ 3262. Prohibition; offenses

(a) No person shall practice or attempt to practice clinical mental health counseling, nor shall any person use in connection with the person's name any letters, words, or insignia indicating or implying that the person is a clinical mental health counselor unless the person is licensed in accordance with this chapter.

(b) A person who violates this section shall be subject to the penalties provided in 3 V.S.A. § 127(c). (Added 1987, No. 245 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1993, No. 98, § 9; 2007, No. 29, § 43.)


§ 3262a. Board of Allied Mental Health Practitioners

(a) A Board of Allied Mental Health Practitioners is established.

(b) The Board shall consist of six members appointed by the Governor pursuant to 3 V.S.A. §§ 129b and 2004.

(1) Two members shall be licensed clinical mental health counselors; one member shall be a licensed marriage and family therapist; one member shall, at the time of appointment, be a nonlicensed and noncertified psychotherapist entered on the roster; and two members shall be public members.

(2) The public members shall have no direct financial interest personally or through a spouse, parent, child, brother, or sister in clinical mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, or psychotherapy.

(3) The professional members shall have at least three years of professional experience as a clinical mental health counselor, marriage and family therapist, or psychotherapist and shall be actively engaged in one of these professions during incumbency.

(c) A majority of the members of the Board shall constitute a quorum for transacting business, and all action shall be taken upon a majority vote of the members present and voting. (Added 1997, No. 40, § 51; amended 2005, No. 27, § 92; 2013, No. 138 (Adj. Sess.), § 40.)


§ 3263. Allied mental health board; duties

(a) The board shall:

(1) provide general information to applicants for licensure as clinical mental health counselors;

(2) administer fees collected under this chapter;

(3) explain appeal procedures to licensed clinical mental health counselors and applicants and complaint procedures to the public;

(4) receive applications for licensure, license applicants under this chapter, renew licenses, and revoke, reinstate, or condition licenses.

(b) The board may adopt rules necessary to perform its duties under subsection (a) of this section. (Added 1987, No. 245 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 4(d), 80; 1993, No. 98, § 10; 1997, No. 40, § 52.)


§ 3264. Repealed. 1997, No. 40, § 74.


§ 3265. Eligibility

To be eligible for licensure as a clinical mental health counselor an applicant shall satisfy all of the following:

(1) Shall have completed a minimum of 60 graduate hours and received a master's degree or higher degree in counseling or a related field, from an accredited educational institution, after having successfully completed a course of study as defined by the board, by rule, which included a supervised practicum, internship, or field experience, as defined by the board, by rule, in a mental health counseling setting.

(2) Shall have documented a minimum of 3,000 hours of supervised work in clinical mental health counseling over a minimum of two years of post-master's experience. Persons engaged in supervised work shall be entered on the roster of nonlicensed, noncertified psychotherapists and shall comply with the laws of that profession, and shall have documented a minimum of 100 hours of face-to-face supervision over a minimum of two years post-master's experience. Clinical work shall be performed under the supervision of a licensed physician certified in psychiatry by the American Board of Medical Specialties, a licensed psychiatric nurse practitioner, a licensed psychologist, a licensed clinical social worker, a licensed marriage and family therapist, a licensed clinical mental health counselor, or a person certified or licensed in another jurisdiction in one of these professions or in a profession which is the substantial equivalent, or a supervisor trained by a regional or national organization which has been approved by the board.

(3) Shall pass the examinations required by board rules as provided in section 3267 of this title. (Added 1987, No. 245 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1993, No. 98, § 12; 1993, No. 222 (Adj. Sess.), § 9a; 1997, No. 40, § 53; 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 32, eff. June 27, 2002; 2005, No. 27, § 93; 2005, No. 148 (Adj. Sess.), § 36.)


§ 3266. Application

To apply for licensure as a clinical mental health counselor, a person shall apply to the board on a form furnished by the board. The application shall be accompanied by payment of the specified fee and evidence of eligibility as requested by the board. (Added 1987, No. 245 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 4(d); 1993, No. 98, § 13; 1997, No. 40, § 73(a).)


§ 3267. Examination

(a) The board or its designee shall conduct written examinations under this chapter at least twice a year, except that examinations need not be conducted when no one has applied to be examined.

(b) Examinations administered by the board and the procedures of administration shall be fair and reasonable and shall be designed and implemented to ensure that all applicants are granted licensure if they demonstrate that they possess the minimal occupational qualifications which are consistent with the public health, safety, and welfare. They shall not be designed or implemented for the purpose of limiting the number of license holders. The board with the advice of the clinical mental health counselors who are members of the special panel, shall establish, by rule, fixed criteria for passing the examination that shall apply to all persons taking the examination.

(c) The board may contract with independent testing services, licensed clinical mental health counselors, or others to assist in the administration of written examinations. (Added 1987, No. 245 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 4(d); 1993, No. 98, § 14; 1997, No. 40, § 54; 2005, No. 27, § 94.)


§ 3268. Licensing without examination

The board may waive the examination requirement if the applicant is a clinical mental health counselor regulated under the laws of another jurisdiction, who is in good standing to practice clinical mental health counseling in that jurisdiction, and, in the opinion of the board, the standards and qualifications required for regulation of clinical mental health counseling in that jurisdiction are substantially equivalent to those required by this chapter. The board may adopt by rule criteria for licensing clinical mental health counselors who have five years' licensed or certified practice experience in another jurisdiction of the United States or Canada. (Added 1987, No. 245 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 4(d); 1997, No. 40, § 73(a); 2003, No. 60, § 17; 2007, No. 29, § 44.)


§ 3269. Renewals

(a) Licenses shall be renewed every two years upon payment of the required fee, provided the person applying for renewal completes at least 40 hours of continuing education, approved by the board, during the preceding two-year period. The board shall establish, by rule, guidelines and criteria for continuing education credit.

(b) Biennially, the director shall forward a renewal form to each license holder. Upon receipt of the completed form and the renewal fee, the director shall issue a new license.

(c) Any application for renewal of a license which has expired shall be accompanied by the renewal fee and a reinstatement fee. A person shall not be required to pay renewal fees for years during which the license was lapsed.

(d) [Deleted.]  (Added 1987, No. 245 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 4(d); 1993, No. 98, § 15; 1997, No. 40, § 55; 2011, No. 66, § 10, eff. June 1, 2011.)


§ 3270. Repealed. 1997, No. 59, § 65(4), eff. June 30, 1997.


§ 3270a. Fees

Applicants and persons regulated under this chapter shall pay the following fees:

(1) Application for licensure                                     $125.00

(2) Biennial renewal                                                   $150.00

(Added 1997, No. 155 (Adj. Sess.), § 6, eff. April 29, 1998; amended 1999, No. 49, § 181; 2001, No. 143 (Adj. Sess.), § 31, eff. June 21, 2002; 2005, No. 202 (Adj. Sess.), § 20.)


§ 3271. Unprofessional conduct

(a) Unprofessional conduct means the following conduct and conduct set forth in 3 V.S.A. § 129a.

(1) using dishonest or misleading advertising;

(2) misusing a title in professional activity;

(3) conduct which evidences unfitness to practice clinical mental health counseling;

(4) engaging in any sexual conduct with a client, or with the immediate family member of a client, with whom the licensee has had a professional relationship within the previous five years;

(5) harassing, intimidating, or abusing a client;

(6) entering into an additional relationship with a client, supervisee, research participant, or student that might impair the licensed clinical mental health counselor's objectivity or otherwise interfere with the clinical mental health counselor's professional obligations;

(7) independently practicing outside or beyond a clinical mental health counselor's area of training, experience, or competence without appropriate supervision.

(b) After hearing, and upon a finding of unprofessional conduct, the board may take disciplinary action against a licensed clinical mental health counselor or applicant. (Added 1987, No. 245 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1993, No. 98, § 17; 1993, No. 222 (Adj. Sess.), § 10; 1997, No. 40, § 57; 1997, No. 145 (Adj. Sess.), § 53; 2007, No. 29, § 45.)


§ 3272. Professional designation

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit the use and incorporation into the title of a clinical mental health counselor of a professional designation issued by a nationally recognized professional licensing organization. (Added 1987, No. 245 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1993, No. 98, § 18.)


§ 3273. Exemptions

(a) The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to persons while engaged in the course of their customary duties as clergy, licensed physicians, psychologists, nurses, osteopaths, optometrists, dentists, lawyers, social workers, certified marriage and family therapists and psychoanalysts, rostered psychotherapists, or licensed educators when performing their duties consistent with the accepted standards of their respective professions; provided, however, that they do not describe themselves to the public by any other title or description stating or implying that they are clinical mental health counselors or are licensed to practice clinical mental health counseling.

(b) The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to persons while engaged in the course of their customary duties:

(1) In the activities and services of the clergy or leader of any religious denomination, or sect or a Christian Science practitioner when engaging in activities that are within the scope of the performance of the person's regular or specialized ministerial duties and for which no separate charge is made, or when these activities are performed, with or without charge, for or under the auspices of sponsorship, individually or in conjunction with others, of an established and legally recognizable church, denomination or sect, and when the person rendering services remains accountable to the established authority of that church, denomination, or sect.

(2) In employment or rehabilitation counseling.

(3) As an employee of or under contract with the agency of human services, provided the person does not practice psychotherapy as defined in section 3261 of this title.

(4) As a mediator.

(5) In an official evaluation for court purposes.

(6) As a member of a self-help group, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, peer counseling, or domestic violence groups, whether or not the person is serving for a consideration.

(7) As a respite caregiver, foster care worker, or hospice worker.

(c) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a) and (b) of this section, the provisions of this chapter shall apply to any person licensed as a clinical mental health counselor under this chapter. (Added 1993, No. 98, § 19; amended 1993, No. 222 (Adj. Sess.), § 11; 1995, No. 126 (Adj. Sess.), § 8; 1997, No. 145 (Adj. Sess.), § 23; 1999, No. 52, § 29.)


§ 3273a. Exceptions

(a) This chapter shall not apply to a person engaged or acting:

(1) In the discharge of his or her duties as a student of clinical mental health counseling or preparing for the practice of clinical mental health counseling provided that the person's title indicates his or her training status, if the preparation occurs under the supervision of a licensed practicing clinical mental health counselor in recognized training institutions or facilities or in a training program approved by the office of professional regulation.

(2) In clinical training for licensure as a psychologist or clinical social worker or for certification as a marriage and family therapist or a psychoanalyst provided that the person's title indicates his or her training status and that the person does not identify him or herself as a clinical mental health counselor.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, this chapter shall apply to any person licensed as a clinical mental health counselor under this chapter. (Added 1993, No. 222 (Adj. Sess.), § 11a; amended 1997, No. 145 (Adj. Sess.), § 24.)


§ 3274. Disclosure of information

The board shall adopt rules requiring licensed clinical mental health counselors to disclose to each client the clinical mental health counselor's professional qualifications and experience, those actions that constitute unprofessional conduct, the method for filing a complaint or making a consumer inquiry, and provisions relating to the manner in which the information shall be displayed and signed by both the clinical mental health counselor and the client. The rules may include provisions for applying or modifying these requirements in cases involving institutionalized clients, minors, and adults under the supervision of a guardian. (Added 1993, No. 222 (Adj. Sess.), § 12; amended 1997, No. 40, § 58.)