On Monday, the Texas MFT licensure board and TAMFT filed for a rehearing with the state supreme court. The motion requests a reconsideration of the recent denial of TAMFT’s petition for review. In the meantime, Texas, and our profession, needs your voice.
As providers, we frequently work with clients to advocate for their needs – whether with a partner, their family, or in their community. Now, we must advocate for our own needs, and for our profession’s. As a group smaller and younger than other mental health professions, we’re getting picked on. But, as a concerned colleague recently asked me, “don’t they know it’s a house of cards? Once we go, don’t the counselors and psychologists see we’ll all go?”
Consider our need to speak out systemic advocacy: we must advocate for our ability to practice as we always have and are qualified to do, and demand our mental health colleagues with alternate licenses do the same, in order to ensure that we’re still around to help clients in need of our care. We must work together, as advocates for self, other, and group, to change attitudes and policies that contribute to a dire mental health crisis, in Texas and elsewhere. For a profession with grass roots origins, solidarity and a unified voice will be critical.
Following the notice that the Texas Supreme Court had denied TAMFT’s petition for review, I stewed. I was frustrated, and felt unappreciated; isolated, in a world where I’m outnumbered by every other kind of mental health provider. But, a colleague shared a reframe I needed: “What are the options? Stay frustrated, feel like we can do nothing? I can’t stay there; that becomes hopelessness. I choose to speak louder.” As I’ve recommended to clients many times before, I decided to write my frustration out of my system. At the end, I had a piece that expressed my frustration with the Texas Medical Association, discussing the mental health crisis in Texas, and the need to continue to allow MFTs in the state to do what we are qualified to do. I submitted it to the Dallas Morning News as an OpEd, expecting to hear nothing, but able to sleep. Next day, it was published.
If you’ve never written an OpEd, now’s the time. You do not need to have ever done something like this before to be successful – but, we must try. It’s time to advocate for the profession and for those in need of our care broadly, on bigger stages than many of us are used to. Use your voice. Loudly, and often. Talk to friends, family, colleagues, mental health providers in other disciplines, and medical providers about what we do. Tell them 1 in 5 adults has a mental illness, fewer than half get the care they need. Sign up for AAMFT’s Family TEAM. Be ready and willing to volunteer to advocate, and respond quickly when called. Donate to TAMFT's political action committee, Family PAC, or AAMFT's Practice Protection Fund. Participate in social media, and use Twitter to connect with MFTs and a broader audience. More importantly, fight hopelessness, and combat threats to our profession and the growth of a worsening mental health crisis, by doing anything to walk the walk.
Material below previously published in Dallas Morning News, as How Texas is Creating a Mental Health Care Crisis (June 13th, 2016):
The state of Texas is experiencing a health care workforce crisis, and the most severe shortage is in mental health. So why, then, has the Texas Medical Association taken legal action to ensure that marriage and family therapists in Texas may no longer diagnose and treat mental health disorders?
Marriage and family therapists (MFTs) have effectively and efficiently been diagnosing and treating mental health disorders in Texas for years. In 2008, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists sought to edit the state regulatory code to more clearly indicate the profession’s ability to independently diagnose. Then, in a grand overreach, but for what appears to be typical for the organization (they have done similarly with chiropractors, podiatrists, and dentists), the Texas Medical Association sued the board to prevent diagnosis as part of the scope of practice of MFTs in the state.