Louisiana could be next to join national program for licensed counselors
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Louisiana lawmakers are pushing for more access to mental health services. One bill gaining support opens the door for therapists to care for patients across state lines.
As the mental health crisis looms worldwide, Louisiana leaders want to make it easier for patients to continue their care. The latest proposal improving access to mental health services allows licensed counselors to care for patients, even if they move to another state.
“This is a counseling compact that will allow treatment both in-person and telehealth across state lines,” said the author of the bill, Rep. Joe Stagni (R).
Rep. Stagni wants Louisiana to join what’s called the “Licensed Professional Counselor Interstate Compact.”
It’s a collaboration between states allowing licensed counselors to practice with patients in other states.
“So, if somebody’s gone through all of the steps and all of the requirements in Arizona to be a licensed counselor then they would also be able to practice here and do a good job in Louisiana right?” asked Rep. Julie Emerson (R) while in committee.
“Yes ma’am,” said Rep. Stagni.
“I think this is a great bill Representative,” Rep. Emerson replied.
It would eliminate the requirement for professionals to have licenses in multiple states.
“For me personally, it has been super huge because my family has just moved to another state. And I have a license in Louisiana, but I now have to jump through hoops to gain licensure in another state,” said Lacy Kemker, a licensed therapist who supports the bill.
The interstate compact needs 10 states to join for it to take effect. Right now, only Maryland and Georgia are signed up with several other states’ entries pending.
“We need to cut some of that red tape so that our clients can have better outcomes and clients have more options for providers, and it keeps providers from being stuck in one place. And then really, it’s going to benefit both practitioners and client outcomes,” Kemker added.
Lawmakers from both parties support the bill, some even offered to co-sign it.
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