CAMFT – CALPCC and the future of mental health in California

By David Joel Miller

If you are not a Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) or a Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) you may not have heard about the commotion going on here in California.

CAMFT has for a very long time been the primary voice of MFT’s both in California and Nationally. CAMFT membership exceeds 30,000 MFTs, far more than the membership of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.

While California was an early adopter of the MFT profession it was the last state to adopt the licensing of Professional Clinical Counselors.

CALPCC has become the state-wide organization for the Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors. This new sister profession is off to a dramatic start.

Some of you may be aware that I hold both licenses. I elected to become dually licensed because I feel that there are differences in the things that the two specialties do and personally I have times when I practice both professions.

Since I have two licensees I am a member of both CALPCC and CAMFT. I also have been honored to serve on the board of directors for CALPCC.

Now that there are three mental health licenses (LCSW’s MFT’s and LPCC’s) here in California we are still sorting things out. (Four if you count the registration and certification of Substance abuse counselors.)

Both the LMFT’s and the LPCC’s face challenges ahead.

MFT’s were founded on system theory and the requisite skill set includes couples or marriage counseling. Some but not all LPCC’s are trained to do marriage counseling. The challenge for MFT’s consists of maintaining that there is something different about what they do. This becomes a particular challenge as more and more MFT’s are working in county agencies with individual clients rather than seeing couples and families.

LPCC’s have specialized training that some, but not all MFT’s received, particularly in the areas of career counseling and substance abuse work. LPCC’s also have skills in working with nonverbal clients. Because LPCC’s are the newest profession there has been a reluctance to open jobs, especially in the public, governmental sector for LPCC’s even when their skill set might be a better match than an MFT’s.

Recently CAMFT’s board of directors proposed changing their bylaws so that all mental health professionals could become members. This would leave MFT’s with no organization to represent their interests and two competing organizations for LPCC’s.

Now a group of CAMFT members has succeeded in triggering a vote on the CAMFT bylaws to return CAMFT to an MFT only organization.

No less than H. Dan Smith, two-time CAMFT president, has sent out a letter in support of retaining the old bylaws to keep CAMFT an MFT only organization.

Personally, I think this is a good idea.

If you are an MFT, MFT student or intern, and plan to continue to practice Marriage and Family therapy as a specialty then I believe you should vote for the old bylaws and become or stay a member of CAMFT.

If you consider yourself a counselor and are a counseling student, PCCI (intern) or a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) then I encourage you to join and support CALPCC. You might also want to like CALPCC on FaceBook.

If you are one of that group that now holds both licenses I believe you owe it to yourself to continue membership in both groups.

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