Counselors express opposition to Senate Bill 226

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - There's mounting opposition towards Senate Bill 226. The bill authored by Senator Willie Mount proposes consolidating the State Board of Examiners of Psychologists and the Louisiana Licensed Professional Counselors Board of Examiners into the Louisiana Behavioral Sciences Board.

The new board would consist of nine members of Louisiana residents approved by the Governor and submitted to the Senate for confirmation and shall consist of the following:

Three members representing the psychology profession.

Three members representing the mental health counseling profession, of which two will be selected by the Governor from a list submitted by the Louisiana Association of Marriage and Family Therapy.

Three members who shall represent the general public and who are not and have never been licensed in a mental health-related profession and who are in no way connected with the practice of any such profession regulated by the board.

"They would have the opportunity to make decisions together so it's really a focus of trying to help or assist the two groups," explained Sen. Mount. "The legislation consolidates the boards, but it doesn't change any other aspect of either of the professional practices."

Keri Forbess-McCorquodale is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She's been watching the bill very closely and fears if passed it could open the door to changes that could potentially limit the scope of her practice and who she can treat.

"Because there is this small group of psychologists that have openly stated that they don't feel like we are qualified to do what we are doing - what we've been doing for 27 years. We've had our law in place that allows us to do this," said Forbess-McCorquodale.

Her concerns are shared by colleague Kendall Lejeune. "If we as counselors can't treat and diagnose the range of mental disorders they would have to actually go elsewhere probably pay a higher premium or out of pocket pay," said Lejeune, LPC.

Openly opposed they contacted legislators to kill the bill.

"None of the groups believes forcing us into a room to try and work things out will be productive," said Forbess-McCorquodale.

"I think my biggest comment that I've tried to say over and over is I'm open to lets all work together and on what changes need to be made. How can we make this better for both professions because they are both very important to the good of our state," said Sen. Mount.

The bill has yet to be discussed in committee.

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