The behavioral health industry is facing a workforce shortage. As behavioral health problems are becoming less stigmatized, more people are reaching out to receive care. It is positive news that people are seeking help, however at the same time, meeting the needs of the population is becoming harder to do with existing workforce strategies. There is one growing trend that, coupled with a vibrant telehealth strategy, can improve access to care and strengthen business opportunities. That trend is the move toward professional licensure compacts. One very important compact is known as the Counseling Compact.
The Counseling Compact is an agreement among participating states that grants full practice privileges to licensed professional counselors (LPCs) as a way to expand treatment capabilities outside of one's typical jurisdiction. So for instance, the states of West Virginia and Ohio have both passed legislation. Once active, an independently licensed counselor in the State of WV can obtain the privilege to practice in Ohio without applying for an Ohio license. As of the writing of this blog, 29 states have passed legislation, and several other states have legislation being considered. Anticipated to launch in early 2024, individuals will soon have the opportunity to apply for the Counseling Compact.
HOW THE COUNSELING COMPACT EXPANDS ACCESS
It is clear that cross-state practice, both in person and through telehealth, will be an indispensable strategy for meeting the demand for behavioral health services into the future. Previously, clinicians had to obtain a license in any state the clinician wanted to practice in, which is both time-consuming and costly. The future of behavioral health can and should include traveling clinicians as well as increased use of telehealth in innovative ways. Professional licensing compacts allow innovative strategies to be utilized and will increase access to care for people who are hurting.
That is, after all, what drew most of these clinical professionals into the field in the first place. These clinicians wanted to do something about the pain and suffering that people experience. They wanted to do something about the lack of effective and accessible care. Unfortunately, sometimes our regulatory practices, while well intended, become barriers in and of themselves to clinicians being able to fulfill their missions of helping to build a better world.
It isn’t just professional counseling licensure that is positively affected by licensing compacts. Physicians and psychologists have had their own compacts for several years. Other professions have them or are looking into developing them. It is a vital strategy, and the time is right for organizations to be looking at innovative strategies that capitalize on these opportunities.
HOW WE CAN HELP
At Ascension Recovery Services, we have expertise and experience in both telehealth implementation as well as innovative workforce strategies, such as cross-state licensing of professionals. The purpose of Ascension Recovery Services is to increase access to effective care in sustainable ways. Ascension Recovery Services applauds the efforts of states and professional associations throughout the country for working together to increase access to effective behavioral health treatment. Ascension Recovery Services looks forward to journeying with so many wonderful organizations as well as work together to build a better tomorrow.