After over seven years of litigation, MFTs have won an amazing victory in Texas. This morning, in a unanimous decision, the Texas Supreme Court held that a Texas MFT licensure board rule authorizing MFTs to diagnose was valid. This decision overturns a lower court’s decision, which held that MFTs did not have authorization to diagnose under state law.
The Texas Supreme Court found that like other mental health professionals, “MFTs in Texas are trained and qualified to perform diagnostic assessment using the DSM and are tested on that ability as part of their licensing requirements.” The court concluded that “every act that a physician may do is not automatically the unlawful practice of medicine when done by a non-physician, and terminology in one field may overlap with that of another.” The court also concluded that the ability of MDs to diagnose “does not preclude MFTs from making diagnostic assessments of emotional, mental, and behavioral problems.”
This case is a tremendous victory for the entire MFT profession and for MFTs in Texas in particular. Many Texas MFTs might have lost their jobs if the decision had gone the other way. For MFTs outside of Texas, although this Texas court decision is not binding on courts and policymakers outside of Texas, the decision will be extremely helpful in persuading policymakers in other states and provinces regarding the ability of MFTs to diagnose.
Chris Habben, President of AAMFT, expressed, "I could not be more proud of the efforts of past leaders, AAMFT staff, and all who have helped to create this wonderful victory."
Other notable quotes from the decision include:
"In short, nothing in the rule’s use of the term “diagnostic assessment” compels the conclusion that it refers to diagnosing of physical or mental diseases or disorders in a manner that constitutes the practice of medicine”
“Like other mental-health professionals, MFTs in Texas are trained and qualified to perform diagnostic assessment using the DSM and are tested on that ability as part of their licensing requirements.”
AAMFT offers our sincerest thanks and appreciation to:
- AAMFT Boards (past and present) for the investment in the profession for all marriage and family therapists,
- TAMFT members and leaders for their diligence and hard work,
- California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists for support via amicus brief,
- Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards for support via amicus brief,
- The law firm of Baker Botts for excellent representation, and
- Practice Protection Fund contributors (become a contributor here to keep the momentum going!).
Tracy Todd, CEO of AAMFT, says, "This is quite possibly one of the most important days in AAMFT's history and certainly for the profession of marriage and family therapy."
Again, thank you to everyone who contributed to this effort over the many years.