After the problems that arose in Texas, leaders in Virginia carefully reviewed the scope of practice for licensed marriage and family therapists in Virginia. While there has never been a question or a problem, the law governing our practice was, at the very least, ambiguous about our ability to provide diagnoses. In making this review, it was noted that the term of choice was “assessment,” but that there was no definition for “assessment” anywhere in the language of the law. There was, however, a definition for “appraisal” which included providing “objective assessments” and diagnoses.
A freshman legislator in the Virginia House of Delegates, Ms. Debra Rodman, agreed to patron the legislative language change, substituting “appraisal” for “assessment” in the scope of service for MFTs. This was presented as a clarification of the existing ambiguous language and as a reflection of actual practice in the mental health industry as LMFTs have been providing diagnoses since the inception of the license in 1998.
There was no opposition to this change as the Board of Counseling and the Virginia Association of Clinical Counselors were consulted and informed of the proposed change in the Code of Virginia. There were two negative votes on the floor of the Virginia House of Delegates. These votes were cast by persons representing a strong libertarian posture and they routinely vote against any bill that smacks of government regulation! The bill passed by unanimous vote of the Virginia Senate and was signed into law by the Governor.
Written by Arnold Woodruff, LMFT, Executive Director of VAMFT. Pictured above with Delegate Debra Rodman.