Supervisors, you are one of a kind. You completed a master’s degree, an internship, and then blew through the date that most of us quit this profession and actually took it to a whole NEW level and became a supervisor. Like the responsibility for taking on other’s stories wasn’t enough, you became a mentor for someone in the beginning stages if their career. And you know what this profession is about. It’s not all “Kumbaya” and hugs. There are devastating losses and terrifying decisions mixed in with the beautiful successes and unconditional positive regard. Yet here you are, about to take the next leap and start mentoring another counselor Newbie. Let’s talk about what your new LPC Associate needs to learn from you, especially if the future brings allowances for them to be self-employed.
First, let’s define independent. Why start here? Funny story. This little bombshell word lives in our counseling vocabulary and we don’t even realize it doesn’t have an ‘official’ definition yet. I’m talking about TSBE (LPC Board) rule 681.2 which defines everything from Art Therapy to an Indirect Hour. It didn’t matter that we didn’t define it; we used in all kinds of regulations like these:
681.2 (17) “LPC–Licensed Professional Counselor. A person holding an LPC license as a professional counselor with authority to practice in independent practice.
681.2 (18) LPC Associate–Licensed Professional Counselor Associate. A person who holds an LPC Associate license to practice counseling only under a board Council-approved supervisor and not as an independent practitioner.”
681.91 d. An LPC Associate may practice counseling only as part of his or her internship and only under the supervision of a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor (LPC-S). The LPC Associate may not own an independent professional counseling practice.
681.91 The LPC Associate must not represent himself or herself as an independent practitioner…
When the fight over whether to allow LPC Associates to be self-employed came to a head in 2021, this omission became glaringly obvious. Why can’t associates take money from clients? Because it might appear they are in independent practice. Why can’t interns list their name without their supervisors’ name in the same type size and font? Because it might appear as if they are an independent practitioner.
No and Yes
Drum roll please….the proposed definition is finally coming to the Texas Register. According to the BHEC and LPC board meetings, independent practice will be defined as counseling without a supervisor. Since supervisees MUST practice under the supervision of a LPC -S it goes without saying (or maybe I’m saying it here), LPC Associates will not be able to practice independently. The question remains; will they be allowed to be self-employed? When this becomes official in early 2022 [all proposed rules must be posted in the Texas Register for public comment for 30 days, then the board will meet to formally encode it] what will this mean for LPC Supervisors?
Here are some things a new rule allowing LPC Associates to be self-employed under supervision could mean:
- LPC Associates will be able to take cash from clients and put it directly in their bank account. No more ‘client pays LPC Associate, LPC Associate pays owner, owner takes deductions for running the office, owner pays LPC Associate, then LPC Associate turns around and pays owner again for supervision.’ Well, I guess a LPC Associate can still agree to that if they don’t recognize the inherent financial three-ring circus that causes, but in 2022 they may not have to.
- LPC Associates will be able to hang a shingle and have their own practice as one of their sites if the supervisor allows. Yes, it will still be up to the supervisor. A good example of this is the 2017 change when the LPC board eliminated site limits for LPC Associates. Since there was no longer a rule, the number of sites a LPC Associate could have became the LPC Supervisor’s decision. If your supervisor said you could only have two sites, then you were limited to two. If they said you could have twenty sites, then knock yourself out. Bottom line, the LPC Supervisor will continue to have the final say on LPC Associate practice.
- Hiring is still the realm of Texas Workforce Commission. Yes LPC (and LMFT) Supervisors, the TWC still views hiring your supervisee as hiring someone you directly supervise and that meets w-2 criteria, not 1099 criteria. Why? Because your supervisee does not ‘control’ their own work IN THAT SETTING. Supervisees in other sites not owned by their supervisor might meet the 1099 criteria.
We need you LPC Supervisors!
It is the dawning of the age of self-employed LPC Associates and I think it’s a about time. Will they make it through the stages of development and stay in the business? Can they see past the disillusionment, through the losses and heartache, and arrive at the place where they can be successful business owners? Sounds like a great place for YOU, a great LPC Supervisor, to hang your shingle. Now go do great things and mentor these ambitions supervisees into amazing mental health practitioners and fill the gaps in rural Texas.