Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Health Professions
Board of Counseling
Regulations Governing the Practice of Professional Counseling [18 VAC 115 ‑ 20]
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10/25/19  9:46 pm
Commenter: Kim Dellinger, Bacon Street Youth and Family Services

strong support in allowing counselors in residence to be able to bill for services

We are a local non profit organization in Williamsburg and provide services for youth and families struggling with mental health and substance use disorders, regardless of their ability to pay for services.  We greatly depend on our counselors in residence to help us provide services, and they are always under supervision from a licensed clinician who works for the agency.  Counselors in residence are already challenged in finding placements with agencies, and it's hard on agencies to pay for the living wages of these counselors while they are working toward licensure.  By not being able to bill for their time, the burden is placed on the agency to figure out how to cover their compensation, as we ask counselors in residence to work to serve clients who often can't pay their bills.  

We believe strongly in being a teaching agency for our counselors in residence and take this part of our mission very seriously.  We want them to have a great experience and come out as seasoned, well trained professionals.  But it's hard to make ends meet if we have to meet a high need in our client base but can't financially afford to support the clinicians who are providing the services to address this need.

We are already struggling with finding licensed clinicians who are willing to work for a nonprofit agency, when they could be making more money as a private counselor with their own practice.  By employing counselors in residence, this meets the need of the counselors, they are able to get their hours for licensure and we provide the supervision they are required to have as a part of their compensation package.  In turn, this also meets the needs of our clients who desperately need services but often struggle with paying the higher rates that are charged by private clinicians.  

By allowing for us to be able to bill directly for counselors in residence, this would allow us to do our jobs more effectively and serve more low income clients.  We could continue to provide the services we provide to our clients, we can provide the supervision and experience needed for the counselors in residence and have a financially viable model that will allow our agency to serve more clients more effectively.  

With the increasing need in the rising number of youth and young adults struggling from addiction and mental illness, we NEED more counselors in the field.  If we can provide a way for counselors to have a viable way to be successful, we might have more counselors entering the field.  This is a pathway to success for the field of counseling, and will draw more potential counselors into the field.  As an agency, we understand the need to train and mentor new professionals.  Please consider voting in favor of this proposal, it will allow for tomorrow's professionals to be able to help today's clients and families who are struggling.  

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