Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Health Professions
Board of Counseling
Regulations Governing the Practice of Marriage and Family Therapy [18 VAC 115 ‑ 50]
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8/26/12  6:34 pm
Commenter: Myra Gillum, Va. Tech MFT Resident

In Support of the Petition

The process of becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist in Virginia is a long and arduous one even when the system functions smoothly, but the purpose is to assure the best possible care.  However, currently the lack of clarity, long delays, lost papers, inconsistent responses, and, worse yet, no responses at all burden the licensing process.  Hard-working, qualified  applicants unnecessarily lose money (thousands in supervision and course fees), time (months and even years), and sometimes ultimately the desire to complete the necessary steps.  If they're extremely well organized and persistent, if their family can be patient, presumably, eventually, they will be allowed to take the difficult written test, get their license, and begin their official career as a therapist.


This does not serve the profession well nor those in need of vital mental health services.  Those who make it all the way through may feel burned out when their career is barely launched, and surely there are those who give up altogether or decide to practice in other states.  Given the crises facing the country currently, hurting Virginians need more practitioners, not fewer. 


I graduated from Virginia Tech's MFT program in 2007, with honors, yet for two major reasons I decided not to pursue licensure, although that was my original goal.  The first reason was a long-term health crisis developing in my immediate family, but the second reason was different.  Having heard so many stories of ongoing frustration from friends and colleagues trying to get licensed, I knew that the increasing demands on my time at  home would not permit me the luxury of dealing simultaneously with a slow, inconsistent, and seemingly indifferent Board of Counseling.  Reluctantly I abandoned my hope of becoming a licensed MFT therapist.


Mental health practitioners have a state-mandated responsibility to report cases of neglect and abuse.  Rather than being a model of professional relations, the Board of Counseling's dysfunction, however unintentional, has had a major negative impact on a lot of fine, well trained clinicians with high aspirations and demonstrated willingness to work hard.  We have been reporting the situation for a long time, and now it's time to officially acknowledge the problems and work together to fix them.


Myra Gillum

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