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Virginia Regulatory Town Hall

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Action:
Initial regulations for registration
Stage: Emergency/NOIRA

CHAPTER 70

REGISTRATION OF PEER RECOVERY SPECIALISTS

Part I. General Provisions.

18VAC115-70.10. Definitions.

"Applicant" means a person applying for registration as a peer recovery specialist.

"Board" means the Virginia Board of Counseling.

"DBHDS" means the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.

"Mental health professional" means a person who by education and experience is professionally qualified and licensed in Virginia to provide counseling interventions designed to facilitate an individual's achievement of human development goals and remediate mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders and associated distresses which interfere with mental health and development.

"Peer recovery specialist" means a person who by education and experience is professionally qualified in accordance with 12VAC35-250 to provide collaborative services to assist individuals in achieving sustained recovery from the effects of mental illness, addiction, or both.

"Registered peer recovery specialist" or "registrant" means a person who by education and experience is professionally qualified in accordance with 12VAC35-250 and registered by the board to provide collaborative services to assist individuals in achieving sustained recovery from the effects of mental illness, addiction, or both.  A registered peer recovery specialist shall provide such services as an employee or independent contractor of DBHDS, a provider licensed by the DBHDS, a practitioner licensed by or holding a permit issued from the Department of Health Professions, or a facility licensed by the Department of Health.

18VAC115-70-20. Fees required by the board.

A. The board has established the following fees applicable to the registration of peer recovery specialists:

Registration                                                                                                          $30

Renewal of registration                                                                                     $30

Late renewal                                                                                                     $20

Reinstatement of a lapsed registration                                                             $60

Duplicate certificate of registration                                                                    $10

Returned check                                                                                                 $35

Reinstatement following revocation or suspension                                          $500

B. Unless otherwise provided, fees established by the board shall not be refundable.

18VAC115-70-30. Current name and address.

Each registrant shall furnish the board his current name and address of record. Any change of name or address of record or public address, if different from the address of record, shall be furnished to the board within 60 days of such change. It shall be the duty and responsibility of each registrant to inform the board of his current address.

Part II. Requirements for registration and renewal.

18VAC115-70-40. Requirements for registration as a peer recovery specialist.

A.  An applicant for registration shall submit a completed application on forms provided by the board and any applicable fee as prescribed in 18VAC115-70-20.

B.  An applicant for registration as a peer recovery specialist shall provide evidence of meeting all requirements for peer recovery specialists set by DBHDS in 12VAC35-250-30.

18VAC115-70-50. Annual renewal of registration.

All registrants shall renew their registration on or before June 30 of each year. Along with the renewal form, the registrant shall submit the renewal fee as prescribed in 18VAC115-70-20.

18VAC115-70-60. Continued competency requirements for renewal of peer recovery specialist registration.

A. Registered peer recovery specialists shall be required to have completed a minimum of eight contact hours of continuing education for each annual registration renewal.  A minimum of one of these hours shall be in courses that emphasize ethics. 

1.  Registered peer recovery specialists shall complete continuing competency activities that focus on increasing knowledge or skills in one or more of the following areas:

a.  Current body of mental health/substance abuse knowledge;

b. Promoting services, supports, and strategies for the recovery process;

c.  Crisis intervention;

d.  Values for role of peer recovery specialist;

e.  Basic principles related to health and wellness;

f.  Stage appropriate pathways in recovery support;

g.  Ethics and boundaries;

h.  Cultural sensitivity and practice;

i.  Trauma and impact on recovery;

j. Community resources; or

k. Delivering peer services within agencies and organizations. 

B. The following organizations, associations, or institutions are approved by the board to provide continuing education:

1. Federal, state, or local governmental agencies, public school systems, or licensed health facilities.

2. The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and its state affiliates.

3. The American Association of State Counseling Boards.

4. The American Counseling Association and its state and local affiliates.

5. The American Psychological Association and its state affiliates.

6. The Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification.

7. NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals and its state and local affiliates.

8. National Association of Social Workers.

9. National Board for Certified Counselors.

10. A national behavioral health organization or certification body recognized by the board.

11. Individuals or organizations that have been approved as continuing competency sponsors by the American Association of State Counseling Boards or a counseling board in another state.

12. An agency or organization approved by DBHDS. 

C. Attestation of completion of continuing education is not required for the first renewal following initial registration in Virginia.

D. The board may grant an extension for good cause of up to one year for the completion of continuing education requirements upon written request from the registrant prior to the renewal date.  Such extension shall not relieve the registrant of the continuing education requirement.

E. The board may grant an exemption for all or part of the continuing education requirements due to circumstances beyond the control of the registrant such as temporary disability, mandatory military service, or officially declared disasters upon written request from the registrant prior to the renewal date.

F. All registrants shall maintain original documentation of official transcripts showing credit hours earned or certificates of participation for a period of three years following renewal.

G. The board may conduct an audit of registrants to verify compliance with the requirement for a renewal period.  Upon request, a registrant shall provide documentation as follows:

1.  Official transcripts showing credit hours earned; or

2.  Certificates of participation.

H. Continuing education hours required by a disciplinary order shall not be used to satisfy renewal requirements.

Part III. Standards of Practice; Disciplinary Actions; Reinstatement.

18VAC115-70-70. Standards of practice.

A. The protection of the public health, safety, and welfare and the best interest of the public shall be the primary guide in determining the appropriate professional conduct of all persons whose activities are regulated by the board.

B. Persons registered by the board shall:

1.  Practice in a manner that is the best interest of the public and does not endanger the public health, safety, or welfare.

2.  Be able to justify all services rendered to clients as necessary.

3.  Practice only within the competency area for which they are qualified by training or experience.

4.  Report to the board known or suspected violations of the laws and regulations governing the practice of registered peer recovery specialists.

5.  Neither accept nor give commissions, rebates, or other forms of remuneration for referral of clients for professional services.  Make appropriate consultations and referrals based on the best interest of clients.

6. Stay abreast of new developments, concepts, and practices which are necessary to providing appropriate services.

7.  Document the need for and steps taken to terminate services when it becomes clear that the client is not benefiting from the relationship.

C.  In regard to confidentiality and client records, persons registered by the board shall:

1.  Not willfully or negligently breach the confidentiality between a practitioner and a client.  A breach of confidentiality that is required or permitted by applicable law or beyond the control of the practitioner shall not be considered negligent or willful. 

2.  Disclose client records to others only in accordance with applicable law.

3. Maintain client records securely, inform all employees of the requirements of confidentiality and provide for the destruction of records that are no longer useful in a manner that ensures client confidentiality.

4.  Maintain timely, accurate, legible, and complete written or electronic records for each client, to include dates of service and identifying information to substantiate treatment plan, client progress, and termination. 

D.  In regard to dual relationships, persons registered by the board shall:

1.  Not engage in dual relationships with clients or former clients that are harmful to the client's well-being, or which would impair the practitioner's objectivity and professional judgment, or increase the risk of client exploitation.  This prohibition includes, but is not limited to, such activities as providing services to close friends, former sexual partners, employees, or relatives; or engaging in business relationships with clients.

2.  Not engage in sexual intimacies or romantic relationships with current clients.  For at least five (5) years after cessation or termination of professional services, practitioners shall not engage in sexual intimacies or romantic relationships with a client or those included in collateral therapeutic services.  Because sexual or romantic relationships are potentially exploitative, the practitioner shall bear the burden of demonstrating that there has been no exploitation.  A client's consent to, initiation of or participation in sexual behavior or involvement with a practitioner does not change the nature of the conduct nor lift the regulatory prohibition.

3.  Recognize conflicts of interest and inform all parties of obligations, responsibilities, and loyalties to third parties. 

E.  Upon learning of evidence that indicates a reasonable probability that another mental health provider, as defined in § 54.1-2400.1 of the Code of Virginia, is or may be guilty of a violation of standards of conduct as defined in statute or regulation, persons registered by the board shall advise their clients of their right to report such misconduct to the Department of Health Professions in accordance with § 54.1-2400.4 of the Code of Virginia.

18VAC115-70-80. Grounds for revocation, suspension, restriction, or denial of registration.

In accordance with §54.1-2400(7) of the Code of Virginia, the board may revoke, suspend, restrict, or decline to issue or renew a registration based upon the following conduct:

1.  Conviction of a felony, or of a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude, or violation of or aid to another in violating any provision of Chapter 35 (§54.1-3500 et seq.) of Title 54.1 of the Code of Virginia, any other statute applicable to the practice of registered peer recovery specialists or any provision of this chapter;

2.  Procuring or maintaining a registration, including submission of an application or applicable board forms, by fraud or misrepresentation;

3.  Conducting one's practice in such a manner so as to make it a danger to the health and welfare of one's clients or to the public; or if one is unable to practice with reasonable skill and safety to clients by reason of illness, abusive use of alcohol, drugs, narcotics, chemicals, or any other type of material, or as a result of any mental or physical condition;

4.  Violating or abetting another person in the violation of any provision of any statute applicable to the practice of peer recovery specialists or qualified mental health professionals, or any regulation in this chapter;

5.  Performance of functions outside the board-registered area of competency;

6.  Performance of an act likely to deceive, defraud, or harm the public;

7.  Intentional or negligent conduct that causes or is likely to cause injury to a client or clients;

8.  Action taken against a health or mental health license, certification, registration, or application in Virginia or other jurisdiction; 

9.  Failure to cooperate with an employee of the Department of Health Professions in the conduct of an investigation; or

10. Failure to report evidence of child abuse or neglect as required in §63.2-1509 of the Code of Virginia, or elder abuse or neglect as required in §63.2-1606 of the Code of Virginia. 

18VAC115-70-90. Late renewal and reinstatement.

A. A person whose registration has expired may renew it within one year after its expiration date by paying the late renewal fee and the registration fee as prescribed in 18VAC115-70-20 for the year in which the registration was not renewed and by providing documentation of completion of continuing education as prescribed in 18VAC115-70-60.

B. A person who fails to renew registration after one year or more shall:

1. Apply for reinstatement;

2. Pay the reinstatement fee for a lapsed registration;

3. Submit evidence of current certification as a peer recovery specialist as prescribed by DBHDS in 12VAC35-250-30.

C. A person whose registration has been suspended or who has been denied reinstatement by board order, having met the terms of the order, may submit a new application and fee for reinstatement of registration as prescribed in 18VAC115-70-20.  Any person whose registration has been revoked by the board may, three years subsequent to such board action, submit a new application and fee for reinstatement of registration as prescribed in 18VAC115-70-20. The board in its discretion may, after an administrative proceeding, grant the reinstatement sought in this subsection.