What is the Interstate Counseling Compact?
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The Interstate Counseling Compact is an ideal solution to one of the most pressing issues in mental healthcare today: access. By introducing a new agreement that enables licensed counselors (LPCs) and their clients to remain connected across state lines, this groundbreaking development eliminates the hindrances brought about by out-of-state moves, such as disrupted patient/therapist relationships and time pressures for counselors facing financial losses due to slow transitions. It uniquely ensures quality counseling services while providing peace of mind on both sides, allowing LPCs and their beneficiaries in participating states to secure continued treatment with guaranteed licensure standards upheld at all times.
Launched by the American Counseling Association (ACA), the Interstate Counseling Compact enables counselors to offer services across state lines and provides unfettered access to mental health care. This initiative passed in 17 states in April 2022, with legislation introduced into 21 other sessions since then, offering an unprecedented opportunity for counseling professionals to practice beyond traditional service boundaries and expand relationships between patient-counselor dyads on a larger scale than ever before.
Similar to the PsyPact for licensed psychologists and the Nurse Licensure Compact for registered nurses, the Interstate Counseling Compact guarantees interstate professional licensure portability and clinical recognition for counselors within interstate borderlines. This ultimately helps clients break down barriers between states that make it difficult for counselors to accept interstate clientele. In addition, while the Covid-19 pandemic has expanded behavioral telehealth for Medicare, not all rules are permanent. The Interstate Counseling Compact aims to support counselors and clients by providing therapy without borders as more states support this legislation.
Since its inception in December 2020, the Interstate Counseling Compact is poised to revolutionize mental healthcare access by eliminating the need for multiple licenses. This groundbreaking initiative’s reach into current and future counseling services across state lines provides unprecedented opportunities to individuals seeking quality care through a single license.
From its beginnings in December 2020 to today’s evolving landscape, explore the Interstate Counseling Compact to see how it expands mental healthcare by eliminating the need for multiple licenses. Learn what this groundbreaking initiative means for individuals seeking counseling services across state lines now—and into the future.
Benefits of the Interstate Counseling Compact for Counselors and Clients
The Interstate Counseling Compact (ICC) is a nationwide agreement that makes it easier for licensed mental health counselors to provide services in multiple states. It allows licensed professional counselors (LPCs) to conduct counseling services through distance technology, such as telephone, video conferencing, or other digital media, while fully complying with the state’s laws where their client resides.
Once implemented, counselors and clients nationwide can take advantage of the Interstate Counseling Compact, which provides various benefits.
Benefits of the Interstate Counseling Compact for Counselors
- Reduce paperwork hassles by only needing to complete one license application, allowing for a faster and smoother licensure process when working in different states.
- Allow LPCs to continue caring for clients who have moved away from their current location.
- Expand their practice into new states without spending extra time and money studying for additional licensing exams.
- Provide services to clients living in rural or geographically isolated areas.
Benefits of the Interstate Counseling Compact for Clients
- Easily locate therapists eligible to provide counseling services within their home state, no matter which state they live in.
- Receive more convenient access to therapy from licensed professionals regardless of geographic location.
- Abide by existing regulations regarding patient privacy and confidentiality while receiving therapeutic assistance through distance counseling practices.
- Access more consistent mental health benefits for military families and others who frequently relocate for work.
From enabling licensed counselors to provide services across state lines with ease, to providing more options for mental healthcare seekers – this agreement will empower individuals throughout the United States.
Which States Belong to the Interstate Counseling Compact?
As of spring 2023, 17 states have enacted the Interstate Counseling Compact as legislation, according to the American Counseling Association:
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
- West Virginia
Requirements for States to Join the Interstate Counseling Compact
To be eligible for agreement with the interstate counseling compact, a state must meet specific criteria regarding its licensure requirements.
Specifically, the state must require 60 hours of degree or graduate coursework in counseling, post-degree supervised experience and passage of a nationally recognized exam, and diagnostic authority.
The interstate counseling compact does not change state licensure requirements. Instead, it recognizes licensed professional counselors (LPCs) from participating states offering interstate practice privileges.
What Types of Counseling Services are Covered by the Interstate Counseling Compact?
Under the interstate counseling compact, the services that can be provided include work performed by a “licensed professional counselor” (LPC). This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Individual and family counseling
- Marital and couples therapy
- Mental health assessment
- Testing and diagnosis
- Behavior management
- Play therapy
- Crisis intervention services
- Substance abuse treatment
FAQs about the Interstate Counseling Compact and Professional Licensing Requirements
This advocacy issue is evolving and changing quickly, leaving counselors and clients questioning how and when it will take effect. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the Interstate Counseling Compact.
Q: How does the Interstate Counseling Compact work?
A: The Interstate Counseling Compact (ICC) allows professional counselors, who have already met uniform licensure requirements across multiple states, to be granted a privilege to practice counseling in other interstate locations. This privilege can be quickly obtained as the ICC utilizes a shared interstate licensure data system for near-instant verification of licensure status.
Q: Does the Interstate Counseling Compact allow for face-to-face and telehealth visits?
A: Yes, licensed professional counselors can see clients face-to-face in a clinical setting and via telehealth video or audio calls on HIPAA-compliant technology platforms.
Q: How does the Interstate Counseling Compact protect clients?
A: In addition to helping expedite the licensure process and facilitate interstate practice, this data system also ensures that member states share important investigative and disciplinary information with one another, providing enhanced public protection concerning interstate counseling services.
Q: What types of mental health professionals are included in the Interstate Counseling Compact?
A: The Interstate Counseling Compact covers “licensed professional counselors” (LPC). Professionals who reside in states that use equivalent titles (e.g., “licensed mental health counselor” (LMHC) or “licensed professional clinical counselor” (LPCC) and can independently diagnose, assess, and treat patients in mental health can participate in this compact.
Q: What types of mental health professionals are excluded from the Interstate Counseling Compact?
A: Mental health professionals who hold singular titles as “licensed marriage and family therapists” (LMFT) or “licensed clinical social workers” (LCSW) are not included in the Interstate Counseling Compact. Distinctive compacts for these professions may become available in the coming years.
Please note this information is valid as of June 2023 and is subject to change. Please visit the American Counseling Association Counseling Compact website or CounselingCompact.org for the most up-to-date information.
Q: When will the Interstate Counseling Compact go into effect?
A: The American Counseling Association says the 17 states who have joined will likely start granting interstate licensure by the end of 2023.