AAMFT has been working with the Tennessee division (TNAMFT) to oppose H.B. 1840 scheduled to be voted on Wednesday, April 6 by the Tennessee House. We feel this bill will create opportunities for discrimination, which is unacceptable. This legislation would also create legal loopholes to lessen the high professional standards which MFTs hold themselves and serve to weaken the ability to help those in need. Maintaining access to care, particularly in rural areas where there are limitations on those able to provide service, is vital. MFTs from Tennessee as well as both TNAMFT and AAMFT have been tracking this legislation for months, reaching out to legislators, the press, and the public to create a greater understanding around our concerns. Below is a copy of the message sent to Tennessee MFTs last week urging them to contact their legislators to ask them to vote “no” on H.B. 1840. We will keep you informed on these legislative outcomes.
As representatives of nearly 700 Tennessee Marriage and Family Therapists and therapists-in-training, and 62,000 MFTs in the U.S., both the Tennessee Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, and its parent association the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, oppose H.B. 1840. We believe that the legislation, as it is currently written, would likely create opportunities for discrimination to occur. Any legislation that creates such opportunities, whether intentional or unintentional, is not in the best interests of Tennesseans.
Tennessee is a beautiful and vibrant state. It has a rich landscape of urban and rural opportunities for its citizens to build their homes and traverse life’s journeys. And like every great journey, life has its ups and downs, certainties and uncertainties. For the hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans who seek therapeutic care to assist them, it is vitally important that access to those services exist and that when they are at their most vulnerable, they are not unduly harmed by those who vow to assist them.
MFTs dedicate their lives to the systemic care and treatment of their clients’ well-being. They abide by a stringent professional Code of Ethics to ensure that they are delivering the very best care they can provide. Standard 1.1. of AAMFT’s Code of Ethics states that members “provide professional assistance to persons without discrimination on the basis of race, age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability, gender, health status, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or relationships status.” This standard exists to ensure that, when needed, MFTs are available to provide safe care and that the therapeutic relationship is focused on that goal. While MFTs may provide ethical referrals to clients to ensure they are receiving the very best care available, these referrals are based on skills that the best care for Tennesseans in need – not based on who that Tennessean is.
H.B. 1840 creates legal loopholes for discrimination to occur and to circumvent provisions such as Standard 1.1 that exist to protect Tennesseans. This legislation will unduly harm the state’s citizens. It has potentially dire consequences for those citizens not in therapy as it enters this great state into the controversial national debate around discriminatory laws and the ensuing economic threats that result. Quite simply, H.B. 1840 is bad for Tennessee’s future and we urge Tennessee’s legislators to show their commitment to that future by voting no on this legislation.