Seattle Community

Rachel Whalley, MA, MFA, LMHCA
Spiritual psychotherapist and healer
Seattle, Washington
Greatly helpful
out of 10
21 votes

How Washington State's New Rules Affect Counselors, Coaches, Healers, and YOU!

If you practice any profession that includes helping people with personal growth, or if you are looking for a counselor, therapist, healer, or coach, you'd be wise to learn how the credentialing system is being overhauled in Washington State.

Written Jun 13, 2008, read 17813 times since then.


To catch you up to speed, two years ago, the Seattle Times did an expose on Washington State's horribly lax method of tracking counselors. (Read more on the full Seattle Times series.)

Basically, the state was strictly regulating the credentialing of licensed counselors (those who hold a master's megree, log thousands of hours of supervised experience, and pass a tough exam), but anyone could be granted the title of "Registered Counselor (RC)" if they spent $40 and took a 4-hour AIDS training.

Now, I'm writing this currently as a Registered Counselor, so I'm not saying that many valuable professionals with integrity don't also hold that designation. For thousands of worthy practitioners, it's been the only state-offered designation available that didn't require a Master's Degree. Also, it's been the only designation a graduate-level professional could hold until achieving full licensure. 

But back to the point:

Since 2006, the Washington State Legislature has been trying to determine how to fix the system. This March, Gov. Gregoire put through legislation that abolishes the Registered Counselor credential as of 2010 and creates eight new designations with escalating requirements. (Read the Seattle Times summary article.)

Here the designations that are most relevant to those of us in private practice, in order of least to most requirements:

  • Certified Advisor-- Requires at least an AA in a counseling-related field. Must have supervision by a higher-level mental health practitioner. Must qualify through an exam that tests proficiency, ethics, and basic practices. Must take continuing education.

  • Certified Counselor-- Requires a BA or BS in addition to all the requirements for Certified Advisor. *Addendum: Five or more years of holding a Registered Counselor designation can substitute for the degree requirement.

  • Licensed Mental Health Counselor Associate and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate-- Requires a master's degree in a counseling-related field. Used by those who are working toward full licensure.

(There are other designations for social workers, registered hypnotherapists, and chemical dependency professionals, but I'm not going to go into that here. Check the resources at the bottom if you want more info on those professions.) *Addendum: Ministers and pastors who provide counseling are exempt from having to apply for these designations.

So what does all this mean?

It means if you practice anything in Washington State that even resembles counseling, you need to figure out which of these new designations you'll be applying for by July 2010. And you might want to start working on your qualifications for those designations, if you don't already have them.

Think you don’t practice “counseling” in your job as a healer or other wellness professional, and therefore these new rules won’t apply to you?

Washington State might disagree.

They’re defining counseling as "assisting or attempt to assist a person or persons to improve their mental, emotional, or behavioral problems" or as "using therapeutic techniques to achieve understanding and awareness of self and others and the growth of human potential.

Addendum: Coaches may not need any of these designations, depending on their scope and manner of practice. Read Kimm Viebrock's in-depth article about how this state is defining "therapeutic" to learn more.

I wrote this article because, despite my connections to this industry via my school and my psychotherapist colleagues, I had a difficult time finding out about these changes. I thought of all the wellness workers in Biznik and how few of them were probably following all this ill-publicized legal whoha. These new rules will affect thousands of people in this state, and right now, not many know about what’s happening. My hope is that this information will inform more practitioners about rules affecting their livelihoods so that they have time to prepare for the shift.

My other purpose was to provide some consumer education for those who are looking for a counselor, therapist, or healer. Most people I’ve talked to have no idea what the different designations (counselor vs therapist, LMHC vs RC, etc) mean now! I can only imagine how complex it will be for potential clients to find the most suitable professional for them once these new designations are added to the mix.

If you have further questions, you can comment on this article or email me, although I’m by no means an expert on Washington State Law. I’ve just tried to summarize the news of what’s happening in my profession, based on the articles I’ve already listed above and the resources I list below.


* For the record, I am a psychotherapist with a master's degree in Applied Behavioral Sciences. The designation I currently hold is Registered Counselor, but I will be applying for the Licensed Mental Health Counselor Associate designation as soon as it is available. This means I'm in the process of working towards licensure.

Learn more about the author, Rachel Whalley, MA, MFA, LMHCA.

Comment on this article

  • Financial Recovery Coach 
Seattle, Washington 
Mikelann Valterra
    Posted by Mikelann Valterra, Seattle, Washington | Jun 13, 2008

    Wow, Rachel, You have done a HUGE service for us here! I've been aware of some of the coming changes, but it has been indeed confusing. The "Registered Counselor" doesn't hold a lot of water, but it is all that has been available for many who are not in traditional therapy fields. I'm worried how all this will apply to the fields of coaching, though the system really did need to be changed. Thank you, thank you for your work on this!!

  • Blogging Coach and Copywriter 
Seattle, Washington 
Judy Dunn
    Posted by Judy Dunn, Seattle, Washington | Jun 13, 2008

    This is incredibly important information, Rachel. My family, specifically, my sister, who lives in a rural town, had a very, very bad experience with someone who put out his "counseling" shingle and was no more of a counselor than I am. He had a high-level criminal record, to boot.

    Yes, she was naiive and should have done a background check on him, but the way the state laws were at the time, he actually held a "certificate."

    I think it's a move in the right direction and will actually help all the good therapists and coaches out there because now there will be a way to identify the competent ones.

    But getting a heads up? Priceless. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Energetic Speaking Coach for Entrepreneurs & NPOs 
Bellevue, Washington 
Pamela Ziemann
    Posted by Pamela Ziemann, Bellevue, Washington | Jun 13, 2008

    If you'd like to give a speech about this information let me know. I can hook you up with the President of the Holistic Chamber of Commerce.

    You've laid the information out very clearly. Thanks.

  • Acupuncturist / Allergy Elimination (NAET) 
Seattle, Washington 
Kory Kapitke
    Posted by Kory Kapitke, Seattle, Washington | Jun 13, 2008

    Very informative! Thank you for making this information accessible to our community.

  • Soul Growth Coaching and Counseling 
Seattle, Washington 
    Posted by Laura MEEHAN, Seattle, Washington | Jun 13, 2008

    Thank you Rachel for making this confusing information more clear. I had not heard the updates. I am glad I am already licensed as a Marriage and Family Counselor.

  • Spiritual psychotherapist and healer 
Seattle, Washington 
Rachel Whalley, MA, MFA, LMHCA
    Posted by Rachel Whalley, MA, MFA, LMHCA, Seattle, Washington | Jun 13, 2008

    Thanks for all your comments, folks. I am glad to hear that this info is helping to inform more people, especially those whom I respect very much and who are not practicing as "traditional" therapists.

    I agree, Mikelann, that this transition is going to possibly be challenging for coaches (as well as other alternative wellness workers). That's exactly why I wanted to get the word out and start some conversations so people don't get stuck in the lurch.

    Judy, that's horrible about what happened to your sister! That kind of experience is exactly why the state got moving on making some changes---the current system is far too easy to abuse.

    BTW, 99% of the people I've talked to about the Registered Counselor designation had NO idea that it wasn't a useful credential. The only people I've met who knew how easy the RC was to get were other therapists.

    So I believe the majority of the fault falls on the state for having such poor standards and tracking methods to regulate a profession in which clients are inherently more vulnerable and trusting than in almost any other.

    Pamela, I'm shooting you a message because your offer is very intriguing. :)

  • Individual Counseling and Couples Therapy 
Seattle, Washington 
Peter Hannah MA LMHC
    Posted by Peter Hannah MA LMHC, Seattle, Washington | Jun 14, 2008

    Thanks Rachel, for summarizing this! It's appreciated :-) Peter

  • Intuitive Coach: For Business and Personal 
Seattle, Washington 
Banu Sekendur
    Posted by Banu Sekendur, Seattle, Washington | Jun 14, 2008

    Great article Rachel. Thank you for brining this to everyone's attention. I think that potential clients need to be educated about this as well.

  • Seattle Business Coach / Seattle Leadership Coach / Executive Coach / Author / Speaker 
Seattle, Washington 
Hsuan-Hua Chang, PCC, LMBA, MS
    Posted by Hsuan-Hua Chang, PCC, LMBA, MS, Seattle, Washington | Jun 14, 2008

    Thank you for sharing the information. I know it has been going on and I haven’t followed it closely. I have been a strong supporter of ICF (International Coaching Federation) for the similar reason. ICF ensures the quality of the coaches by credential requirements of training, recommendations and coaching hours (MCC for 2500 hr coaching, PCC 750 hr and ACC 100 hr). The intention was to establish the profession’s credibility so the government won’t intervene. ICF has 16000+ members in 80+ countries. USA has 8312 members and only 2016 of them are certified coaches. With the rate of coaching field growth, I think ICF effort might not be fast enough.

    At the same time, if you consider hiring a coach, make sure to look for an ICF certified coach or a coach trained by an ICF certifed coaching schools. ICF website has the schools' information.

  • Healing Artist and Tantra Yoga Teacher 
Seattle, Washington 
Satori Laurel
    Posted by Satori Laurel, Seattle, Washington | Jun 14, 2008

    Yes, I am sure that many people wanted to receive this kind of information. For me, it really highlights a system that is still operating in a lot of dualistic concepts. Although many of us have made the shift into a higher consciousness that lives outside of the dual nature that has had our societies programmed for ages, it is very clear through this manifestation of structure that passively separates and categorizes people (creating doubt, competition and fear) we are not yet totally there (or are we?)--which is fine. We are all fine and right on track. Whether you have a "license" (issued by someone who doesn't even know you) to practice your birthright to share love in all forms be it offering a reflection through talk therapy or holding sacred space while drumming someone into a cathartic spiritual landscape of unity for healing purpose, this poses a bigger question: Who gets to say? Who really is "qualified" to say who is being helpful or not in a counseling environment...(all totally extreme in your face obvious cases aside)..Who get's to say? I don't recall anyone asking me. And those that have gotten their approved status, have you asked yourself these questions? This is a much bigger question..almost too big because who is really going to take the time to be deeply honest with themselves and look at the shadow of this idea? To look at it and see that something got skipped in this equation and that is exactly why this turn-around effort is happening in the first place. This feels like a separation in community to me and a fear-based mentality emerging through the supposed honoring of education. ( I am witness to this as a turning point of evolution of thought through trouble-shooting different possibilities...) Can we please get to the real point? Everything comes down to two things when you really break it down to the core: Fear and Love.

    And even that breaks down to One.


    It's all a dance people. Grab your partner and find your own rhythm.

  • Business Freedom Acceleration & Revenue Ratchet Doctor 
Mill Creek, Washington 
George Huang, M.D.
    Posted by George Huang, M.D., Mill Creek, Washington | Jun 14, 2008

    Rachel, Thanks for bringing this topic to the forefront.

    Though I retired from plastic surgery five years ago, I maintain my medical license.

    As a business coach and consultant, now, I see an even greater reason to do so.

    I coach a lot of other coaches, so this info will help me better guide them.

    Thanks again.


  • Spiritual psychotherapist and healer 
Seattle, Washington 
Rachel Whalley, MA, MFA, LMHCA
    Posted by Rachel Whalley, MA, MFA, LMHCA, Seattle, Washington | Jun 14, 2008

    Satori, I hear you. I am always learning about walking the balance between doing work that is state-certified (allowed?) and work that is much more challenging to define. There are few statistical studies being done on energy work!

    I guess what's important to me is that healers of any kind really owe it to themselves and those they serve to have some basic training in things like ethics, referral procedures, and the like.

    Yes, these changes can provoke fear, and some of the rulings may be partially in response to fear, but I choose to see the Love and honoring of sacred work in the intentions of those who are trying to stop unworthy practitioners who abuse the system to prey on clients.

  • Spiritual psychotherapist and healer 
Seattle, Washington 
Rachel Whalley, MA, MFA, LMHCA
    Posted by Rachel Whalley, MA, MFA, LMHCA, Seattle, Washington | Jun 14, 2008

    Nice to hear, George. I admit part of my hope in publishing this article in Biznik was to reach some high-level connectors who would help spread this information.

    Your students are fortunate that you are paying attention. :)

  • Healing Artist and Tantra Yoga Teacher 
Seattle, Washington 
Satori Laurel
    Posted by Satori Laurel, Seattle, Washington | Jun 14, 2008

    I suppose my truth is that I am not into this game at all. I see moral stands occurring with out much question or context to what you are standing over. Like, what are the stats on these vicious practitioners and their victim clients in Washington State? And what about ethics and referral classes for those looking for a practitioner? Shouldn't we all be schooled in these basic common sense areas? Please forgive the "devil's advocate" in me, but all of this feels very unsupported and doesn't really offer much in terms of the true balance of the reality of the whole situation. Which, in my experience, sums up the attitudes of most morality plays. Much love~

  • Blogging Coach and Copywriter 
Seattle, Washington 
Judy Dunn
    Posted by Judy Dunn, Seattle, Washington | Jun 14, 2008


    I appreciate your thoughts and, Rachel, I don't mean to hijack this thread, but my sister's "counselor" had actually killed someone and been committed to a mental hospital. I think that might qualify as a vicious practitioner.

    We need to weed out these incompetents and if that makes more opportunities for our ethical and truly gifted therapists, that's all the better.

    Sorry. Didn't mean to come across as insensitive.

  • Seattle Business Coach / Seattle Leadership Coach / Executive Coach / Author / Speaker 
Seattle, Washington 
Hsuan-Hua Chang, PCC, LMBA, MS
    Posted by Hsuan-Hua Chang, PCC, LMBA, MS, Seattle, Washington | Jun 14, 2008


    I think this is a different conversation. It’s like we are talking about how teachers should be qualified and you raise the concern about bad teachers. Qualification process can’t offer 100% guarantee service and it doesn’t stop us to qualifying our teachers. :)


    I am seeing an energy healer. I think it’s harder to qualify healers. But when I want to try Reiki, I will reach out to you since you listed receiving master level of Reiki. To me, that shows integrity to be trained to serve your clients.

    I think qualification is important. How much government should be involved is another thing. That’s what this article about. If a profession has full of untrained people, it’s inviting rules from government. I am a promoter of training and self-discipline of the profession.

  • Seattle Business Consultant Coach, Seattle Sales Coach, Seattle Life Coach, Team Workshop Facilitator 
Seattle, Washington 
David Wolf
    Posted by David Wolf, Seattle, Washington | Jun 14, 2008


    Thank you for your wise contribution to this string!

    I appreciate the information that Rachel has outlined in this article that may have an impact on how Washington State governmental regulations could impact Counselors, Coaches, and Healers.

    I feel it is equally important to consider the questions Satori has suggested to us and the people whom presume to know what’s best for the masses.

    I am a certified professional coach through an accredited institution, but for the State of Washington to imply I may need to get another degree to coach is upsetting.

    Thank you for the information.

    Satori, I’m delighted to read the words of a wise change agent actively making a difference in this world.

  • Spiritual psychotherapist and healer 
Seattle, Washington 
Rachel Whalley, MA, MFA, LMHCA
    Posted by Rachel Whalley, MA, MFA, LMHCA, Seattle, Washington | Jun 14, 2008

    I agree that no governmental tracking process is guaranteed to truly validate the skilled and empathetic practitioners. There will still be bad therapists, coaches and healers out there, just like there are still bad doctors, lawyers, and teachers.

    It's nearly impossible (for the government, schools, or anyone) to ensure that everyone in a profession is great at their jobs.

    That being said, I agree with Judy. There needs to be some checkpoints (and I'm not necessarily certain of the how or what) to at least filter out the felons and people who just plain don't know what they're doing.

    Should that mean that WA state starts accepting the PCC designation and Reiki master designation as education qualifications? I don't know. I think they're doing the best they can to try to evaluate a very intangible industry.

    Oh, and I forgot to put in the article that people who have held a Registered Counselor designation for five years or more are NOT required to have a degree in order to qualify for the Certified Counselor designation.

    What I appreciate about that is that the state is trying to make allowances for healers and alternative practitioners who have years of experience without necessarily having a degree.

    They will still be required to demonstrate some coursework in ethics and risk assessment, as well as continuing education.

    I also forgot to mention that ministers and pastors continue to be exempt from having to apply for these designations.

  • Small Business Consultant 
Seattle, Washington 
Karrie Kohlhaas
    Posted by Karrie Kohlhaas, Seattle, Washington | Jun 16, 2008

    Nicely done Rachel. This is such a great example of a good biznik article. It's not only timely information but you are getting this out there early so people in fields like yours can be proactive.

    Your article is concise, well written, full of great links and resources and it's organized on the page so it's easy to read and not overwhelming.

    Pamela has an excellent idea and I hope you'll reach more people by doing some events around town.

    You may consider turning your article into a longer piece and pitching it to Ritzy at Conscious Choice Magazine as well. This is newsworthy and would boost your reputation as an authority in your field in addition to helping both practitioners and the public.

  • Healing Artist and Tantra Yoga Teacher 
Seattle, Washington 
Satori Laurel
    Posted by Satori Laurel, Seattle, Washington | Jun 17, 2008

    Thanks and blessings to all of the comments throughout this thread~ It is refreshing to feel into the possibility that there are beings who actually do think for themselves and ask questions...even if it is a bit of a jolt to the good old ego. David Wolf~ I appreciate your being present with me, and the ideas that are coming through. Rachel has done an amazing job of stirring the fog and eliciting the fire! As a colleague, friend, and past client of mine, I feel really good about her astute nature and practicality about these topics. She's smart! And she has evolved as a beautiful energy worker too! My point is just to further that by illuminating a bit in regards to a broader question about our institutional structures and our full understanding about how things are being organized for us. We must ask questions. We must be curious and interested if we are to go anywhere. Wanna have tea sometime David? And Karrie, thanks for your suggestion to Rachel re: the magazine piece..its a great idea and also has sparked some inspiration in me to write something for that publication.

    Blissings to All, and hope to see ya in person! Satori Laurel PS: I like "change agent"...will try that on and see how it fits...i think it's definitely the right color for my skin tone though ;)

  • Executive Coach, Motivating Speaker, Leadership Team Specialist 
Olympia, Washington 
Tammy Redmon
    Posted by Tammy Redmon, Olympia, Washington | Jun 18, 2008

    Rachel thank you for your time on the topic. I do have some concern for what you post as an all inclusive umbrella linking counselor, therapists and coaches together. The services we each offer are very, very different and I think that is part of the overall confusion.

    For point of clarification, the new legislation is pretty clear to use terminology that releases certified coaches from the need to have additional certification from the state. As coach, the services I provide are not 'therapeutic' and as I understand the new language in the legislation, that frees me to continue to honor the code ethics and standards set by the ICF. [Check out the following article for further clarification] ( the-truth-about-washington-states-new-counselor -rules-and-how-they-really-affect-coaching/)

    I acknowledge you for bringing the conversation to the forefront and for the time it took to research your article. I encourage other coaches to not feel tossed into the fire with the temporary confusion around this topic. It is great to have clear guiding principles and standards, I believe it helps the industry overall. That is what the governing body has been attempting to get to, which is ultimately good for the client. Our responsibility is to research what it means to 'me' as professional and take appropriate action. This conversation (I caution) should not put unnecessary fear out in the world, but rather a call for fierce action to stay connected to what happens at the legislative level that affects us all.

    It is good for us to be well versed on how our respective professions may or may not be impacted by the new legislation. That is our responsibility as professionals. Rachel you assist us all to seeing the importance of that fact.

  • Spiritual psychotherapist and healer 
Seattle, Washington 
Rachel Whalley, MA, MFA, LMHCA
    Posted by Rachel Whalley, MA, MFA, LMHCA, Seattle, Washington | Jun 18, 2008

    Kimm, I commented on your article, which is very helpful (here's the clickable url:

    I agree that coaching and counseling are fairly different professions, but I did not (until reading your article) know that the state was so well informed about that.

    I'm glad that you cleared up how coaches will be certainly was not clear to me based on the language.

    I've modified this article to reflect what I now know to be true, based on your detailed article.

  • CCO to Go & Business Skills Development Coach 
Bellevue, Washington 
Kimm Viebrock
    Posted by Kimm Viebrock, Bellevue, Washington | Jun 19, 2008

    Rachel -

    Thanks so much for the updates to your article and also for the useful detail about a few of the key new credentials described in the law that I simply couldn't fit into mine.

    The truth is that this is a confusing subject. There are times when I have questioned my own assessment of it and have had to listen and re-listen to various testimony to be sure I'm getting it straight.

    As the DOH moves into the implementation phase, it will be important for anyone potentially affected to be involved (ideally through a professional association as that would carry a lot more weight) to ensure the new rules match in practice what they were intended to accomplish in theory.

    Regardless - I am most interested in as many of us being as well educated on the subject as possible. These articles along with the various questions, comments, and any debates that might arise too all work toward that end.

  • Speaker, Author, Radio Host 
Sammamish, Washington 
Leslie Irish Evans
    Posted by Leslie Irish Evans, Sammamish, Washington | Oct 23, 2008


    Just found this article and am so glad I did. As a massage/reflexology/aromatherapist, this law doesn't seem to apply directly to what I do. But in my practice (especially the aromatherapy part) I might be flirting with the edges of this. Good to know it exists. Thank you!

  • Spiritual psychotherapist and healer 
Seattle, Washington 
Rachel Whalley, MA, MFA, LMHCA
    Posted by Rachel Whalley, MA, MFA, LMHCA, Seattle, Washington | Nov 03, 2008

    Thanks for the comment, Leslie. I just saw it tonight!

    Yes, it's always helpful to know what regulations are out there that could apply to your business. We probably all skirt the edge of some unknown reg from time to time without knowing, maybe ever!

  • Counselor and Consultant 
Seattle, Washington 
Barbara  Hinchcliffe
    Posted by Barbara Hinchcliffe, Seattle, Washington | Mar 10, 2009

    Rachel- as an LMHC I have been concerned about what this means for my license. I actually know 2 of the professionals who advocated with the state for the current language of the law - its actually way more practitioner friendly due to their involvement. I believe in professional training and certification as a means of public protection and gaurantee of basic credibility and ethics. I am grateful for your article. I am also available to any certified counselrs/adivsors who need supervision.

  • Spiritual psychotherapist and healer 
Seattle, Washington 
Rachel Whalley, MA, MFA, LMHCA
    Posted by Rachel Whalley, MA, MFA, LMHCA, Seattle, Washington | Mar 10, 2009

    Thanks, Barbara.

    I've heard great stories of many professionals from all over the credential scale who have stepped up and spoken out for their groups. We are lucky in this state that our industry professionals are so proactive!

    It's always good to know who is available to provide supervision, too, so thanks for putting that out there. This article has received a lot of traffic since I wrote it and I'm sure some people are stopping by to look for exactly that kind of info!

  • Counselor 
Battle Ground, Washington 
Lawrence Magnussen
    Posted by Lawrence Magnussen, Battle Ground, Washington | Apr 11, 2009

    Well, this rather upsets me. I have been a Registered Counselor here in Washington for 2 years now, and having had neither the time nor the finance to afford a Masters Degree, I have nonetheless made it my life's passion to learn all that I can in this field. So, I am looking at 20+ years of study, dedication, and nothing but compliments and gratitude for my efforts to help people in this field. Many a spare dollar has gone towards research, books, my own counseling, volunteer counseling, and my own efforts to branch out into the much neglected demographics of alternative Belief Systems. I contend that this ruling is simply the result of economic/political pressure applied to the state legislator by the well-to-do and insurance companies.. those who charge money in exchange for services. I have worked in clinics, and the bottom line has ALWAYS been money.. no money, no help. Period. Even as a volunteer counselor, in so-called state and county supported programs, clients were "cash cows" from the funding entities. I personally resent the tone used when describing the current system as $40.00 = registration to practice, in that it has always been the responsibility of the issuing entity to perform due diligence on those applying for the right to use their gifts towards helping others in need. It is the obligation of the issuing entity to review the criminal history of applicants, and I, for one, always assumed that was being carried out. Now, because the state has, in effect, admitted that it hasn't been doing just that, it sounds to me like we're throwing out the baby with the bath water. So, what do those of us do next year? Three more years, and I would meet the requirements for state certification. Now, all my course work, my commitment to counseling as a life style, has been denied. There are many outstanding counselors with their "shingle out", who will have to drop their clients, stop their heretofore successful practices, and..... do what?

  • naturopathic physician (unlicensed) 
Mount Vernon, Washington 
Lynn Harrison
    Posted by Lynn Harrison, Mount Vernon, Washington | May 28, 2009

    To anyone who can answer my question:

    I became a registered counselor almost exclusively so I can practice homeopathy. Does anyone know what happens now in terms of how the change in the law pertains to homeopathy? I tried navigating the state site but quickly became frustrated. I'd be very grateful if someone could clear this up for me. Thanks!

  • Spiritual psychotherapist and healer 
Seattle, Washington 
Rachel Whalley, MA, MFA, LMHCA
    Posted by Rachel Whalley, MA, MFA, LMHCA, Seattle, Washington | May 29, 2009

    Lynn, as far as I can tell, they're not done making the rulings yet. I've subscribed to the Registered Counselor's update digest and what it sounds like is that things are still being figured out.

    Your best bet, in my opinion, is to email your inquiry to the address listed on the Department of Health website:

    Good luck and I hope you let us know what you find out!

  • naturopathic physician (unlicensed) 
Mount Vernon, Washington 
Lynn Harrison
    Posted by Lynn Harrison, Mount Vernon, Washington | May 29, 2009

    Hi Rachel,

    Thanks for getting back to me so soon. I've written to the address you gave me and I'll let you know what I find out as soon as they get back to me. If they follow the usual time frame of most bureaucracies, it might take a while, but I promise to let you know what they say as soon as possible.



  • Spiritual psychotherapist and healer 
Seattle, Washington 
Rachel Whalley, MA, MFA, LMHCA
    Posted by Rachel Whalley, MA, MFA, LMHCA, Seattle, Washington | Jan 26, 2010

    To all who are still following this topic, especially those who are working in private practice and intend to apply for licensure:

    Today at 1:30pm in Olympia, there will be an initial hearing for House Bill 3006, which is trying to EXTINGUISH the private practices of any non- or not-yet-licensed psychotherapists, EVEN THOSE WORKING TOWARD LICENSURE!

    Here is the link to the proposed bill.

    To quote from an email sent by Aubra Taylor at Affinity Mental Health:

    "House Bill 3006 will seriously injure our economy, and the welfare of mental health professionals and consumers by eliminating thousands of jobs and businesses in the mental health field. All (private) practitioners with Associate designation will lose their jobs and businesses on January 1st, 2011; and their clients will be displaced throughout the state. This raises very serious ethical considerations both for many thousands mental health clients, and so many Masters-level counselors that have been practicing in accordance with the law with approved-supervision. "

    I urge anyone reading this who feels concerned to read the bill above, and then take action in one of these following ways:

    • Attend the hearing today at 1:30 in Olympia and voice your opposition.
    • Call the bill's sponsor, Representative Tami Green at 360-786-7958.
    • Email Rep. Green at

    I plan to attend the hearing and I will report back here with what I find out.

  • Spiritual psychotherapist and healer 
Seattle, Washington 
Rachel Whalley, MA, MFA, LMHCA
    Posted by Rachel Whalley, MA, MFA, LMHCA, Seattle, Washington | Jan 27, 2010

    So here's my followup, after attending the initial hearing for Bill 3006:

    It seemed from what I heard, both from lobbyists, other attendees, and even the committee chair, that there was some misunderstanding of languaging in the bill. I believe the sponsoring House Rep believed she was simply clarifying something, not making a major change to the legislation.

    There are many people speaking out against this bill, so I believe the committee is listening to the objections and that this bill will not pass without significant modifications over time.

    Still, it's important to stay connected and make your voice heard. If you care about this bill's negative impact, do email or call Rep. Green, and track what happened to 3006 by subscribing to the bill updates or getting connected with WAMFT or WMHCA as a member.

  • Attorney 
Seattle, Washington 
Eric Ström
    Posted by Eric Ström, Seattle, Washington | Jun 24, 2010

    Great information. And you're right, this is a huge change for a lot of mental health professionals.

    One point to keep in mind, however, is that there are still a few exceptions to the very wide definition of counseling that might apply to some former Registered Counselors.

  • Spiritual psychotherapist and healer 
Seattle, Washington 
Rachel Whalley, MA, MFA, LMHCA
    Posted by Rachel Whalley, MA, MFA, LMHCA, Seattle, Washington | Jul 21, 2010

    Eric, do you have specifics to share about who might be exempt?

    People still find this article and read the info to get clear on what WA state is doing. If you have any info that might help, I will amend this article to include them.