It has been a long process to gain equal recognition for LMFTs in Montana. We began our efforts in 2005, became licensed in 2009, were granted a shared seat on the licensing board in 2015, successfully lobbied for parity with other master’s level licenses for third party reimbursement in 2019, and this year, 2021, we have been added to the professions approved for Medicaid reimbursement!
In the over 5 years that I have been involved with the Association, I have gained valuable tools, information, and experiences. I have learned that, especially in a rural community like Montana (yes, the whole state), relationships are of the utmost importance. The skills that we possess as MFTs span across therapy rooms, living rooms, and board rooms. Because we have taken the time to show up, be seen, be heard, and listen, we have proven our reliability, professionalism, and have gained the much-deserved equal recognition and representation.
In the past, we ran up against other licenses not valuing the MFT license; we were thought of as an adjunct or a certificate. This became clear as we attended the Board of Behavioral Health meetings and began talking to the members of the board individually. We discovered that our educational requirements in rule were far less than the other master’s level licenses. We made the rule change to increase the education requirements which put us on par with the other licenses. At that time, with the advice from a board member, we contacted the Department of Public Health and Human Services and they gladly offered to add LMFT to the approved providers for Medicaid reimbursement. The department proposed the rule change, got approval from the Medicaid board and here we are, after years of struggling to make this happen, we finally have the correct pieces in the correct places and are recognized for Medicaid reimbursement.
I found throughout this process that we shared common goals with many of the people who opposed us in the past, but we were speaking different languages and coming from different experiences regarding the profession of marriage and family therapy. When we were able to slow down and communicate (sound familiar?) we were able to work alongside folks and ban together to achieve those goals: the welfare of our community and providing of mental health services to our neighbors. It has been such an enriching process; I am a better clinician for it and am proud to be a part of some amazing milestones for MFTs in Montana.
Andrea Foran, LMFT, LCPC, LAC
Chairperson, Montana Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
Please consider donating to AAMFT’s Practice Protection Fund, the voluntary fund for MFT advocacy. Without donations, AAMFT would not be able to afford to support important initiatives such as this victory in Montana.