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Dear Fellow CCA Member:

Now that spring (and summer) is finally here, the end of my term as your President seems impossibly close and the time in which I have to complete my to-do list seems impossibly short. You know the feeling! I recently had the pleasure of representing CCA at the American Counseling Association’s Annual Conference in Atlanta. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it. It’s an extraordinary opportunity to meet other counselors and participate in as wide a variety of educational opportunities as you could imagine. One highlight of the conference was the annual awards ceremony, which I attended with Mike Shavel, our incoming President, and Dr. Reggie Holt of CCSU, both of whom (with Julie Yale, who could not be with us) were instrumental in launching CCA’s Addictions Special Interest Group. It was our honor to represent CCA as we received the North Atlantic Region’s Best Innovative Practice Award for the work of the Addictions SIG! Congratulations to all those involved in getting the group off to such a strong start; if you are interested in the group and how it can assist your work as a counselor, please reach out to Reggie, Mike or Julie and look for more information on the CCA website.

If you weren’t able to make it to Atlanta, I hope at least that you made it to Southbury! On April 13, CCA held its Annual Conference at the Heritage Hotel and Conference Center. Our keynote speakers, Burt Bertram and Rob Reinhardt, gave timely and very well-received presentations on ethics and best-practices in this fast-moving world of technological change. Here are the slides from Rob's presentation on ethical use of social media and telehealth. Many thanks to them and all of the presenters (and members of the conference committee) who worked so hard to bring CCA members such valuable and relevant learning opportunities. It is no understatement to say that none of it would happen without the tireless efforts of Karla Troesser, to whom CCA owes so much. Thank you, Karla!

You’ve all no doubt followed the various twists and turns of our legislative efforts this year. Our main priority - after achieving such important improvements in the counseling license last year - was to push for tiered licensure for counselors. Before describing the current state of those efforts, I wanted to update you on CCA’s response to the letter that NASW-CT sent back in November to a number of agencies statewide, in which the social workers highlighted their tiered licensure structure and suggested to these agencies’ hiring directors that there was a greater risk in hiring professional counselors and MFTs as opposed to hiring social workers. After a number of productive discussions with our fellow mental health colleagues, I am happy to report that a joint letter was sent by CCA, CTAMFT and NASW-CT to all the agencies that had received the original letter. The joint statement explained the distinction between tiered and non-tiered licensure and - most importantly - affirmed the desire of the various professions to work collaboratively and the support of NASW-CT for CCA’s and CTAMFT’s efforts to obtain tiered licensure. I want to thank Jes Jossef, President of CTAMFT and Michelle Kenefick, incoming President of NASW-CT, for their hard work on this letter and for demonstrating the great strength we can find in cooperation and collaboration.

As we updated you in early April, our efforts to have tiered licensure legislation passed came frustratingly close. Through our strong lobbying efforts and outreach by a number of CCA members, we gained a considerable amount of support in the Public Health Committee and had a bill raised (Senate Bill 405). The bill did not make it out of committee, however, largely as a result of the objection of the Department of Public Health, which sees the addition of tiered licensure as a potential drain on its resources. With the help of our lobbyists, Ken Przysybz and Brian Sullivan, we hope to work directly with representatives of DPH to assure them that any budgetary concerns - which we do not anticipate to be significant - will be far outweighed by tiered licensure’s extremely important benefits of consumer protection and workforce creation.

While our efforts to obtain tiered licensure will continue, we did achieve an important legislative accomplishment that directly impacts pre-licensed counselors. Many of you are aware of the change in the law last year that granted pre-licensed counselors an exemption to practice without a license. The grant of the exemption, however, came with a significant downside; counselors would have to cease practicing upon being notified that they had not passed the prescribed examination (NCE/NMHCE). It was this provision that prompted the social workers’ letter discussed above. Due to the strong lobbying efforts of CCA and CTAMFT, the Senate has passed HB 5163- An Act Concerning the Department of Public Health's Recommendations Regarding Various Revisions to the Public Health Statutes, which includes a provision revoking the requirement that pre-licensed counselors cease practicing upon notification of exam failure. Instead, the law will now allow counselors to practice under the exemption for up to two years after completing the supervised experience necessary for licensure and the exemption will cease then only if the counselor has not yet passed the examination. This is a significant improvement in the law and will serve to better protect counselors until we can achieve the long-sought tiered license.

We will, of course, update you on any news from the legislative front and about all of CCA’s other exciting initiatives. The best way for you to learn of them first, however, would be to join us! As I’ve said before, this organization needs you and your talents and we still have leadership opportunities across the board. Please feel free to get in touch with me at any time to learn more about how you might get involved.

Trip Hartigan
CCA President (2017-2018)

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