Licensed professional counselors worried loss of ability to diagnose could affect ability to practice

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Thousands of Licensed Professional Counselors in Michigan could soon lose their ability to practice, leaving hundreds of thousands of patients without care. This, due to a recent proposal from the state's Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs that would no longer allow LPCs to diagnose patients.

"I don't know how you would provide services to individuals if you can't diagnose," said Robert Millen, director of outpatient services for the Great Lakes Recovery Center.

The proposed rule changes were brought up this past Friday during a public hearing hosted by LARA. Hundreds of LPCs were on hand to testify against any changes to their ability to practice.

"I see no difference in training between any of the masters level clinicians,” said Millen. “If you're a Limited License Psychologist or a Master of Social Work, or a Licensed Professional Counselor, I see no difference in the training as far as diagnosing."

In the Upper Peninsula alone, dozens of LPCs would lose their ability to practice and thousands of patients would lose the care that they need.

“So you're restricting the workforce more at a time of great need and we're already struggling to provide services," said Millen.

TV6 and FOX UP reached out to LARA for an interview, but the organization declined to do an interview.

In an official statement, communications director Jason Moon said, “The current rules are very outdated and require updates governing the counseling profession. Counselors will still be able to practice their profession under the new rules. The current and new rules do not allow licensees to diagnose and use psychotherapy techniques because the statute does not allow this practice under the profession's scope. The pending rules seek to move the existing language from one section to the proper section under the training and education portion of the rules. If the rules are adopted the scope of practice would not change because the current law does not give LARA authority to expand or change the scope of practice of this profession by rule.”

Many LPCs disagree.

"I have LPCs from Menominee and Hancock, calling me saying, 'I'm in private practice, if I can't diagnose, I can't bill, and that means my career is over,'" said Millen.

There is hope for LPCs with House Bill 4325. The bill would fix what they see as a bureaucratic error, and allow them to continue their normal practice.

"I'm hoping that the bill can get through our government rapidly and the governor is supportive and it's put in place by November," said Millen.

Meanwhile, LARA says it will take into consideration the testimony from last Friday.

TV6 and FOX UP will keep you updated on this story as it continues to develop.

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