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The Florida Statutes

The 2022 Florida Statutes

Title XXXII
REGULATION OF PROFESSIONS AND OCCUPATIONS
Chapter 491
CLINICAL, COUNSELING, AND PSYCHOTHERAPY SERVICES
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CHAPTER 491
CHAPTER 491
CLINICAL, COUNSELING, AND PSYCHOTHERAPY SERVICES
491.002 Intent.
491.003 Definitions.
491.004 Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling.
491.0045 Intern registration; requirements.
491.0046 Provisional license; requirements.
491.005 Licensure by examination.
491.0057 Dual licensure as a marriage and family therapist.
491.006 Licensure or certification by endorsement.
491.0065 Requirement for instruction on HIV and AIDS.
491.007 Renewal of license, registration, or certificate.
491.008 Inactive status; reactivation of licenses; fees.
491.0085 Continuing education and laws and rules courses; approval of providers, programs, and courses; proof of completion.
491.009 Discipline.
491.0111 Sexual misconduct.
491.0112 Sexual misconduct by a psychotherapist; penalties.
491.012 Violations; penalty; injunction.
491.014 Exemptions.
491.0141 Practice of hypnosis.
491.0143 Practice of sex therapy.
491.0144 The practice of juvenile sexual offender therapy.
491.0145 Certified master social worker.
491.0147 Confidentiality and privileged communications.
491.0148 Records.
491.0149 Display of license; use of professional title on promotional materials.
491.015 Duties of the department as to certified master social workers.
491.016 Social work; use of title.
491.017 Professional Counselors Licensure Compact.
491.018 Professional Counselors Licensure Compact; public records and meetings exemptions.
491.002 Intent.The Legislature finds that as society becomes increasingly complex, emotional survival is equal in importance to physical survival. Therefore, in order to preserve the health, safety, and welfare of the public, the Legislature must provide privileged communication for members of the public or those acting on their behalf to encourage needed or desired counseling, clinical and psychotherapy services, or certain other services of a psychological nature to be sought out. The Legislature further finds that, since such services assist the public primarily with emotional survival, which in turn affects physical and psychophysical survival, the practice of clinical social work, marriage and family therapy, and mental health counseling by persons not qualified to practice such professions presents a danger to public health, safety, and welfare. The Legislature finds that, to further secure the health, safety, and welfare of the public and also to encourage professional cooperation among all qualified professionals, the Legislature must assist the public in making informed choices of such services by establishing minimum qualifications for entering into and remaining in the respective professions.
History.ss. 15, 19, ch. 87-252; ss. 19, 20, ch. 90-263; s. 4, ch. 91-429.
491.003 Definitions.As used in this chapter:
(1) “Board” means the Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling.
(2) “Clinical social worker” means a person licensed under this chapter to practice clinical social work.
(3) “Clinical social work experience” is defined as a period during which the applicant provides clinical social work services, including assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and evaluation of clients; provided that at least 50 percent of the hours worked consist of providing psychotherapy and counseling services directly to clients.
(4) “Department” means the Department of Health.
(5) “Licensed professional counselor” means a clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, or mental health counselor authorized to provide services under s. 491.017.
(6) “Marriage and family therapist” means a person licensed under this chapter to practice marriage and family therapy.
(7) “Mental health counselor” means a person licensed under this chapter to practice mental health counseling.
(8) The “practice of clinical social work” is defined as the use of scientific and applied knowledge, theories, and methods for the purpose of describing, preventing, evaluating, and treating individual, couple, marital, family, or group behavior, based on the person-in-situation perspective of psychosocial development, normal and abnormal behavior, psychopathology, unconscious motivation, interpersonal relationships, environmental stress, differential assessment, differential planning, and data gathering. The purpose of such services is the prevention and treatment of undesired behavior and enhancement of mental health. The practice of clinical social work includes methods of a psychological nature used to evaluate, assess, diagnose, treat, and prevent emotional and mental disorders and dysfunctions (whether cognitive, affective, or behavioral), sexual dysfunction, behavioral disorders, alcoholism, and substance abuse. The practice of clinical social work includes, but is not limited to, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, and sex therapy. The practice of clinical social work also includes counseling, behavior modification, consultation, client-centered advocacy, crisis intervention, and the provision of needed information and education to clients, when using methods of a psychological nature to evaluate, assess, diagnose, treat, and prevent emotional and mental disorders and dysfunctions (whether cognitive, affective, or behavioral), sexual dysfunction, behavioral disorders, alcoholism, or substance abuse. The practice of clinical social work may also include clinical research into more effective psychotherapeutic modalities for the treatment and prevention of such conditions.
(a) Clinical social work may be rendered to individuals, including individuals affected by the termination of marriage, and to marriages, couples, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
(b) The use of specific methods, techniques, or modalities within the practice of clinical social work is restricted to clinical social workers appropriately trained in the use of such methods, techniques, or modalities.
(c) The terms “diagnose” and “treat,” as used in this chapter, when considered in isolation or in conjunction with the rules of the board, may not be construed to permit the performance of any act which clinical social workers are not educated and trained to perform, including, but not limited to, admitting persons to hospitals for treatment of the foregoing conditions, treating persons in hospitals without medical supervision, prescribing medicinal drugs as defined in chapter 465, authorizing clinical laboratory procedures, or radiological procedures, or use of electroconvulsive therapy. In addition, this definition may not be construed to permit any person licensed, provisionally licensed, registered, or certified pursuant to this chapter to describe or label any test, report, or procedure as “psychological,” except to relate specifically to the definition of practice authorized in this subsection.
(d) The definition of “clinical social work” contained in this subsection includes all services offered directly to the general public or through organizations, whether public or private, and applies whether payment is requested or received for services rendered.
(9) The term “practice of marriage and family therapy” means the use of scientific and applied marriage and family theories, methods, and procedures for the purpose of describing, evaluating, and modifying marital, family, and individual behavior, within the context of marital and family systems, including the context of marital formation and dissolution, and is based on marriage and family systems theory, marriage and family development, human development, normal and abnormal behavior, psychopathology, human sexuality, 1and psychotherapeutic and marriage and family therapy theories and techniques. The practice of marriage and family therapy includes methods of a psychological nature used to evaluate, assess, diagnose, treat, and prevent emotional and mental disorders or dysfunctions (whether cognitive, affective, or behavioral), sexual dysfunction, behavioral disorders, alcoholism, and substance abuse. The practice of marriage and family therapy includes, but is not limited to, marriage and family therapy, psychotherapy, including behavioral family therapy, hypnotherapy, and sex therapy. The practice of marriage and family therapy also includes counseling, behavior modification, consultation, client-centered advocacy, crisis intervention, and the provision of needed information and education to clients, when using methods of a psychological nature to evaluate, assess, diagnose, treat, and prevent emotional and mental disorders and dysfunctions (whether cognitive, affective, or behavioral), sexual dysfunction, behavioral disorders, alcoholism, or substance abuse. The practice of marriage and family therapy may also include clinical research into more effective psychotherapeutic modalities for the treatment and prevention of such conditions.
(a) Marriage and family therapy may be rendered to individuals, including individuals affected by termination of marriage, to couples, whether married or unmarried, to families, or to groups.
(b) The use of specific methods, techniques, or modalities within the practice of marriage and family therapy is restricted to marriage and family therapists appropriately trained in the use of such methods, techniques, or modalities.
(c) The terms “diagnose” and “treat,” as used in this chapter, when considered in isolation or in conjunction with the rules of the board, may not be construed to permit the performance of any act that marriage and family therapists are not educated and trained to perform, including, but not limited to, admitting persons to hospitals for treatment of the foregoing conditions, treating persons in hospitals without medical supervision, prescribing medicinal drugs as defined in chapter 465, authorizing clinical laboratory procedures or radiological procedures or the use of electroconvulsive therapy. In addition, this definition may not be construed to permit any person licensed, provisionally licensed, registered, or certified pursuant to this chapter to describe or label any test, report, or procedure as “psychological,” except to relate specifically to the definition of practice authorized in this subsection.
(d) The definition of “marriage and family therapy” contained in this subsection includes all services offered directly to the general public or through organizations, whether public or private, and applies whether payment is requested or received for services rendered.
(10) The term “practice of mental health counseling” means the use of scientific and applied behavioral science theories, methods, and techniques for the purpose of describing, preventing, and treating undesired behavior and enhancing mental health and human development and is based on the person-in-situation perspectives derived from research and theory in personality, family, group, and organizational dynamics and development, career planning, cultural diversity, human growth and development, human sexuality, normal and abnormal behavior, psychopathology, psychotherapy, and rehabilitation. The practice of mental health counseling includes methods of a psychological nature used to evaluate, assess, diagnose, and treat emotional and mental dysfunctions or disorders, whether cognitive, affective, or behavioral, interpersonal relationships, sexual dysfunction, alcoholism, and substance abuse. The practice of mental health counseling includes, but is not limited to, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, and sex therapy. The practice of mental health counseling also includes counseling, behavior modification, consultation, client-centered advocacy, crisis intervention, and the provision of needed information and education to clients, when using methods of a psychological nature to evaluate, assess, diagnose, treat, and prevent emotional and mental disorders and dysfunctions (whether cognitive, affective, or behavioral), behavioral disorders, sexual dysfunction, alcoholism, or substance abuse. The practice of mental health counseling may also include clinical research into more effective psychotherapeutic modalities for the treatment and prevention of such conditions.
(a) Mental health counseling may be rendered to individuals, including individuals affected by the termination of marriage, and to couples, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
(b) The use of specific methods, techniques, or modalities within the practice of mental health counseling is restricted to mental health counselors appropriately trained in the use of such methods, techniques, or modalities.
(c) The terms “diagnose” and “treat,” as used in this chapter, when considered in isolation or in conjunction with any provision of the rules of the board, may not be construed to permit the performance of any act that mental health counselors are not educated and trained to perform, including, but not limited to, admitting persons to hospitals for treatment of the foregoing conditions, treating persons in hospitals without medical supervision, prescribing medicinal drugs as defined in chapter 465, authorizing clinical laboratory procedures or radiological procedures, or the use of electroconvulsive therapy. In addition, this definition may not be construed to permit any person licensed, provisionally licensed, registered, or certified pursuant to this chapter to describe or label any test, report, or procedure as “psychological,” except to relate specifically to the definition of practice authorized in this subsection.
(d) The definition of “mental health counseling” contained in this subsection includes all services offered directly to the general public or through organizations, whether public or private, and applies whether payment is requested or received for services rendered.
(11) “Provisional clinical social worker licensee” means a person provisionally licensed under this chapter to provide clinical social work services under supervision.
(12) “Provisional marriage and family therapist licensee” means a person provisionally licensed under this chapter to provide marriage and family therapy services under supervision.
(13) “Provisional mental health counselor licensee” means a person provisionally licensed under this chapter to provide mental health counseling services under supervision.
(14) “Psychotherapist” means a clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, or mental health counselor licensed pursuant to this chapter.
(15) “Registered clinical social worker intern” means a person registered under this chapter who is completing the postgraduate clinical social work experience requirement specified in s. 491.005(1)(c).
(16) “Registered marriage and family therapist intern” means a person registered under this chapter who is completing the post-master’s clinical experience requirement specified in s. 491.005(3)(c).
(17) “Registered mental health counselor intern” means a person registered under this chapter who is completing the post-master’s clinical experience requirement specified in s. 491.005(4)(c).
(18) “Social worker” means a person who has a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in social work.
History.ss. 15, 19, ch. 87-252; s. 10, ch. 89-70; ss. 5, 19, 20, ch. 90-263; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 192, ch. 94-218; s. 9, ch. 97-198; s. 201, ch. 97-264; s. 2, ch. 2008-154; s. 103, ch. 2018-24; s. 5, ch. 2022-63.
1Note.The word “and” was inserted by the editors to improve clarity.
491.004 Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling.
(1) There is created within the department the Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling composed of nine members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.
(2)(a) Six members of the board shall be persons licensed under this chapter as follows:
1. Two members shall be licensed practicing clinical social workers.
2. Two members shall be licensed practicing marriage and family therapists.
3. Two members shall be licensed practicing mental health counselors.
(b) Three members shall be citizens of the state who are not and have never been licensed in a mental health-related profession and who are in no way connected with the practice of any such profession.
(3) No later than January 1, 1988, the Governor shall appoint nine members of the board as follows:
(a) Three members for terms of 2 years each.
(b) Three members for terms of 3 years each.
(c) Three members for terms of 4 years each.
(4) As the terms of the initial members expire, the Governor shall appoint successors for terms of 4 years; and those members shall serve until their successors are appointed.
(5) The board shall adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to implement and enforce the provisions of this chapter.
(6) All applicable provisions of chapter 456 relating to activities of regulatory boards shall apply to the board.
(7) The board shall maintain its official headquarters in the City of Tallahassee.
(8) The board shall appoint an individual to serve as the state’s delegate on the Counseling Compact Commission, as required under s. 491.017.
History.ss. 15, 19, ch. 87-252; ss. 19, 20, ch. 90-263; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 193, ch. 94-218; s. 152, ch. 98-166; s. 163, ch. 98-200; s. 212, ch. 2000-160; s. 6, ch. 2022-63.
491.0045 Intern registration; requirements.
(1) An individual who has not satisfied the postgraduate or post-master’s level experience requirements, as specified in s. 491.005(1)(c), (3)(c), or (4)(c), must register as an intern in the profession for which he or she is seeking licensure before commencing the post-master’s experience requirement or an individual who intends to satisfy part of the required graduate-level practicum, internship, or field experience, outside the academic arena for any profession, and must register as an intern in the profession for which he or she is seeking licensure before commencing the practicum, internship, or field experience.
(2) The department shall register as a clinical social worker intern, marriage and family therapist intern, or mental health counselor intern each applicant who the board certifies has:
(a) Completed the application form and remitted a nonrefundable application fee not to exceed $200, as set by board rule;
(b)1. Completed the education requirements as specified in s. 491.005(1)(c), (3)(c), or (4)(c) for the profession for which he or she is applying for licensure, if needed; and
2. Submitted an acceptable supervision plan, as determined by the board, for meeting the practicum, internship, or field work required for licensure that was not satisfied in his or her graduate program.
(c) Identified a qualified supervisor.
(3) An individual registered under this section must remain under supervision while practicing under registered intern status.
(4) An individual who fails to comply with this section may not be granted a license under this chapter, and any time spent by the individual completing the experience requirement as specified in s. 491.005(1)(c), (3)(c), or (4)(c) before registering as an intern does not count toward completion of the requirement.
(5) An intern registration is valid for 5 years.
(6) A registration issued on or before March 31, 2017, expires March 31, 2022, and may not be renewed or reissued. Any registration issued after March 31, 2017, expires 60 months after the date it is issued. The board may make a one-time exception to the requirements of this subsection in emergency or hardship cases, as defined by board rule, if the candidate has passed the theory and practice examination described in s. 491.005(1)(d), (3)(d), and (4)(d).
(7) An individual who has held a provisional license issued by the board may not apply for an intern registration in the same profession.
History.s. 10, ch. 97-198; s. 202, ch. 97-264; s. 165, ch. 99-397; s. 1, ch. 2016-80; s. 48, ch. 2016-241; s. 43, ch. 2020-133.
491.0046 Provisional license; requirements.
(1) An individual applying for licensure by examination who has satisfied the clinical experience requirements of s. 491.005 or an individual applying for licensure by endorsement pursuant to s. 491.006 intending to provide clinical social work, marriage and family therapy, or mental health counseling services in Florida while satisfying coursework or examination requirements for licensure must be provisionally licensed in the profession for which he or she is seeking licensure prior to beginning practice.
(2) The department shall issue a provisional clinical social worker license, provisional marriage and family therapist license, or provisional mental health counselor license to each applicant who the board certifies has:
(a) Completed the application form and remitted a nonrefundable application fee not to exceed $100, as set by board rule; and
(b) Earned a graduate degree in social work, a graduate degree with a major emphasis in marriage and family therapy or a closely related field, or a graduate degree in a major related to the practice of mental health counseling; and
(c) Met the following minimum coursework requirements:
1. For clinical social work, a minimum of 15 semester hours or 22 quarter hours of the coursework required by s. 491.005(1)(b)2.b.
2. For marriage and family therapy, 10 of the courses required by s. 491.005(3)(b), as determined by the board, and at least 6 semester hours or 9 quarter hours of the course credits must have been completed in the area of marriage and family systems, theories, or techniques.
3. For mental health counseling, a minimum of seven of the courses required under s. 491.005(4)(b)1.a.-c.
(3) A provisional licensee must work under the supervision of a licensed mental health professional, as defined by the board, until the provisional licensee is in receipt of a license or a letter from the department stating that he or she is licensed as a clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, or mental health counselor.
(4) A provisional license expires 24 months after the date it is issued and may not be renewed or reissued.
History.s. 11, ch. 97-198; s. 203, ch. 97-264; s. 166, ch. 99-397; s. 31, ch. 2017-3; s. 48, ch. 2020-133.
491.005 Licensure by examination.
(1) CLINICAL SOCIAL WORK.Upon verification of documentation and payment of a fee not to exceed $200, as set by board rule, the department shall issue a license as a clinical social worker to an applicant whom the board certifies has met all of the following criteria:
(a) Submitted an application and paid the appropriate fee.
(b)1. Received a doctoral degree in social work from a graduate school of social work which at the time the applicant graduated was accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education or received a master’s degree in social work from a graduate school of social work which at the time the applicant graduated:
a. Was accredited by the Council on Social Work Education;
b. Was accredited by the Canadian Association for Social Work Education; or
c. Has been determined to have been a program equivalent to programs approved by the Council on Social Work Education by the Foreign Equivalency Determination Service of the Council on Social Work Education. An applicant who graduated from a program at a university or college outside of the United States or Canada must present documentation of the equivalency determination from the council in order to qualify.
2. The applicant’s graduate program emphasized direct clinical patient or client health care services, including, but not limited to, coursework in clinical social work, psychiatric social work, medical social work, social casework, psychotherapy, or group therapy. The applicant’s graduate program must have included all of the following coursework:
a. A supervised field placement which was part of the applicant’s advanced concentration in direct practice, during which the applicant provided clinical services directly to clients.
b. Completion of 24 semester hours or 32 quarter hours in theory of human behavior and practice methods as courses in clinically oriented services, including a minimum of one course in psychopathology, and no more than one course in research, taken in a school of social work accredited or approved pursuant to subparagraph 1.
3. If the course title which appears on the applicant’s transcript does not clearly identify the content of the coursework, the applicant provided additional documentation, including, but not limited to, a syllabus or catalog description published for the course.
(c) Completed at least 2 years of clinical social work experience, which took place subsequent to completion of a graduate degree in social work at an institution meeting the accreditation requirements of this section, under the supervision of a licensed clinical social worker or the equivalent who is a qualified supervisor as determined by the board. An individual who intends to practice in Florida to satisfy clinical experience requirements must register pursuant to s. 491.0045 before commencing practice. If the applicant’s graduate program was not a program which emphasized direct clinical patient or client health care services as described in subparagraph (b)2., the supervised experience requirement must take place after the applicant has completed a minimum of 15 semester hours or 22 quarter hours of the coursework required. A doctoral internship may be applied toward the clinical social work experience requirement. A licensed mental health professional must be on the premises when clinical services are provided by a registered intern in a private practice setting.
(d) Passed a theory and practice examination designated by board rule.
(e) Demonstrated, in a manner designated by board rule, knowledge of the laws and rules governing the practice of clinical social work, marriage and family therapy, and mental health counseling.
(2) CLINICAL SOCIAL WORK.
(a) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (1)(b), coursework which was taken at a baccalaureate level shall not be considered toward completion of education requirements for licensure unless an official of the graduate program certifies in writing on the graduate school’s stationery that a specific course, which students enrolled in the same graduate program were ordinarily required to complete at the graduate level, was waived or exempted based on completion of a similar course at the baccalaureate level. If this condition is met, the board shall apply the baccalaureate course named toward the education requirements.
(b) An applicant from a master’s or doctoral program in social work which did not emphasize direct patient or client services may complete the clinical curriculum content requirement by returning to a graduate program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education or the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work, or to a clinical social work graduate program with comparable standards, in order to complete the education requirements for examination. However, a maximum of 6 semester or 9 quarter hours of the clinical curriculum content requirement may be completed by credit awarded for independent study coursework as defined by board rule.
(3) MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPY.Upon verification of documentation and payment of a fee not to exceed $200, as set by board rule, the department shall issue a license as a marriage and family therapist to an applicant whom the board certifies has met all of the following criteria:
(a) Submitted an application and paid the appropriate fee.
(b)1. Attained one of the following:
a. A minimum of a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education.
b. A minimum of a master’s degree with a major emphasis in marriage and family therapy or a closely related field from a university program accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs and graduate courses approved by the board.
c. A minimum of a master’s degree with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy or a closely related field, with a degree conferred before September 1, 2027, from an institutionally accredited college or university and graduate courses approved by the board.
2. If the course title that appears on the applicant’s transcript does not clearly identify the content of the coursework, the applicant provided additional documentation, including, but not limited to, a syllabus or catalog description published for the course. The required master’s degree must have been received in an institution of higher education that, at the time the applicant graduated, was fully accredited by an institutional accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or its successor organization or was a member in good standing with Universities Canada, or an institution of higher education located outside the United States and Canada which, at the time the applicant was enrolled and at the time the applicant graduated, maintained a standard of training substantially equivalent to the standards of training of those institutions in the United States which are accredited by an institutional accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or its successor organization. Such foreign education and training must have been received in an institution or program of higher education officially recognized by the government of the country in which it is located as an institution or program to train students to practice as professional marriage and family therapists or psychotherapists. The applicant has the burden of establishing that the requirements of this provision have been met, and the board shall require documentation, such as an evaluation by a foreign equivalency determination service, as evidence that the applicant’s graduate degree program and education were equivalent to an accredited program in this country. An applicant with a master’s degree from a program that did not emphasize marriage and family therapy may complete the coursework requirement in a training institution fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education recognized by the United States Department of Education.
(c) Completed at least 2 years of clinical experience during which 50 percent of the applicant’s clients were receiving marriage and family therapy services, which must be at the post-master’s level under the supervision of a licensed marriage and family therapist with at least 5 years of experience, or the equivalent, who is a qualified supervisor as determined by the board. An individual who intends to practice in Florida to satisfy the clinical experience requirements must register pursuant to s. 491.0045 before commencing practice. If a graduate has a master’s degree with a major emphasis in marriage and family therapy or a closely related field which did not include all of the coursework required by paragraph (b), credit for the post-master’s level clinical experience may not commence until the applicant has completed a minimum of 10 of the courses required by paragraph (b), as determined by the board, and at least 6 semester hours or 9 quarter hours of the course credits must have been completed in the area of marriage and family systems, theories, or techniques. Within the 2 years of required experience, the applicant shall provide direct individual, group, or family therapy and counseling to cases including those involving unmarried dyads, married couples, separating and divorcing couples, and family groups that include children. A doctoral internship may be applied toward the clinical experience requirement. A licensed mental health professional must be on the premises when clinical services are provided by a registered intern in a private practice setting.
(d) Passed a theory and practice examination designated by board rule.
(e) Demonstrated, in a manner designated by board rule, knowledge of the laws and rules governing the practice of clinical social work, marriage and family therapy, and mental health counseling.

For the purposes of dual licensure, the department shall license as a marriage and family therapist any person who meets the requirements of s. 491.0057. Fees for dual licensure may not exceed those stated in this subsection.

(4) MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELING.Upon verification of documentation and payment of a fee not to exceed $200, as set by board rule, the department shall issue a license as a mental health counselor to an applicant whom the board certifies has met all of the following criteria:
(a) Submitted an application and paid the appropriate fee.
(b)1. Attained a minimum of an earned master’s degree from a mental health counseling program accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs which consists of at least 60 semester hours or 80 quarter hours of clinical and didactic instruction, including a course in human sexuality and a course in substance abuse. If the master’s degree is earned from a program related to the practice of mental health counseling which is not accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, then the coursework and practicum, internship, or fieldwork must consist of at least 60 semester hours or 80 quarter hours and meet all of the following requirements:
a. Thirty-three semester hours or 44 quarter hours of graduate coursework, which must include a minimum of 3 semester hours or 4 quarter hours of graduate-level coursework in each of the following 11 content areas: counseling theories and practice; human growth and development; diagnosis and treatment of psychopathology; human sexuality; group theories and practice; individual evaluation and assessment; career and lifestyle assessment; research and program evaluation; social and cultural foundations; substance abuse; and legal, ethical, and professional standards issues in the practice of mental health counseling. Courses in research, thesis or dissertation work, practicums, internships, or fieldwork may not be applied toward this requirement.
b. A minimum of 3 semester hours or 4 quarter hours of graduate-level coursework addressing diagnostic processes, including differential diagnosis and the use of the current diagnostic tools, such as the current edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The graduate program must have emphasized the common core curricular experience.
c. The equivalent, as determined by the board, of at least 700 hours of university-sponsored supervised clinical practicum, internship, or field experience that includes at least 280 hours of direct client services, as required in the accrediting standards of the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs for mental health counseling programs. This experience may not be used to satisfy the post-master’s clinical experience requirement.
2. Provided additional documentation if a course title that appears on the applicant’s transcript does not clearly identify the content of the coursework. The documentation must include, but is not limited to, a syllabus or catalog description published for the course.

Education and training in mental health counseling must have been received in an institution of higher education that, at the time the applicant graduated, was fully accredited by an institutional accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or its successor organization or was a member in good standing with Universities Canada, or an institution of higher education located outside the United States and Canada which, at the time the applicant was enrolled and at the time the applicant graduated, maintained a standard of training substantially equivalent to the standards of training of those institutions in the United States which are accredited by an institutional accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or its successor organization. Such foreign education and training must have been received in an institution or program of higher education officially recognized by the government of the country in which it is located as an institution or program to train students to practice as mental health counselors. The applicant has the burden of establishing that the requirements of this provision have been met, and the board shall require documentation, such as an evaluation by a foreign equivalency determination service, as evidence that the applicant’s graduate degree program and education were equivalent to an accredited program in this country. Beginning July 1, 2025, an applicant must have a master’s degree from a program that is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council, or an equivalent accrediting body which consists of at least 60 semester hours or 80 quarter hours to apply for licensure under this paragraph.

(c) Completed at least 2 years of clinical experience in mental health counseling, which must be at the post-master’s level under the supervision of a licensed mental health counselor or the equivalent who is a qualified supervisor as determined by the board. An individual who intends to practice in Florida to satisfy the clinical experience requirements must register pursuant to s. 491.0045 before commencing practice. If a graduate has a master’s degree with a major related to the practice of mental health counseling which did not include all the coursework required under sub-subparagraphs (b)1.a. and b., credit for the post-master’s level clinical experience may not commence until the applicant has completed a minimum of seven of the courses required under sub-subparagraphs (b)1.a. and b., as determined by the board, one of which must be a course in psychopathology or abnormal psychology. A doctoral internship may be applied toward the clinical experience requirement. A licensed mental health professional must be on the premises when clinical services are provided by a registered intern in a private practice setting.
(d) Passed a theory and practice examination designated by board rule.
(e) Demonstrated, in a manner designated by board rule, knowledge of the laws and rules governing the practice of clinical social work, marriage and family therapy, and mental health counseling.
(5) RULES.The board may adopt rules necessary to implement any education or experience requirement of this section for licensure as a clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, or mental health counselor.
(6) EXEMPTION.A person licensed as a clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, or mental health counselor in another state who is practicing under the Professional Counselors Licensure Compact pursuant to s. 491.017, and only within the scope provided therein, is exempt from the licensure requirements of this section, as applicable.
History.ss. 15, 19, ch. 87-252; s. 37, ch. 88-205; s. 29, ch. 88-392; ss. 6, 19, 20, ch. 90-263; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 11, ch. 93-260; s. 31, ch. 94-310; s. 10, ch. 95-279; ss. 12, 13, ch. 97-198; ss. 204, 205, ch. 97-264; ss. 167, 168, ch. 99-397; s. 2, ch. 2016-80; s. 44, ch. 2020-133; s. 1, ch. 2022-29; s. 7, ch. 2022-63; s. 22, ch. 2022-71.
491.0057 Dual licensure as a marriage and family therapist.The department shall license as a marriage and family therapist any person who demonstrates to the board that he or she:
(1) Holds a valid, active license as a psychologist under chapter 490 or as a clinical social worker or mental health counselor under this chapter, or is licensed under s. 464.012 as an advanced practice registered nurse who has been determined by the Board of Nursing as a specialist in psychiatric mental health.
(2) Has held a valid, active license for at least 3 years.
(3) Has passed the examination provided by the department for marriage and family therapy.
History.s. 14, ch. 97-198; s. 206, ch. 97-264; s. 69, ch. 2018-106.
491.006 Licensure or certification by endorsement.
(1) The department shall license or grant a certificate to a person in a profession regulated by this chapter who, upon applying to the department and remitting the appropriate fee, demonstrates to the board that he or she:
(a) Has demonstrated, in a manner designated by rule of the board, knowledge of the laws and rules governing the practice of clinical social work, marriage and family therapy, and mental health counseling.
(b)1. Holds an active valid license to practice and has actively practiced the licensed profession in another state for 3 of the last 5 years immediately preceding licensure;
2. Has passed a substantially equivalent licensing examination in another state or has passed the licensure examination in this state in the profession for which the applicant seeks licensure; and
3. Holds a license in good standing, is not under investigation for an act that would constitute a violation of this chapter, and has not been found to have committed any act that would constitute a violation of this chapter.

The fees paid by any applicant for certification as a master social worker under this section are nonrefundable.

(2) The department shall not issue a license or certificate by endorsement to any applicant who is under investigation in this or another jurisdiction for an act which would constitute a violation of this chapter until such time as the investigation is complete, at which time the provisions of s. 491.009 shall apply.
(3) A person licensed as a clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, or mental health counselor in another state who is practicing under the Professional Counselors Licensure Compact pursuant to s. 491.017, and only within the scope provided therein, is exempt from the licensure requirements of this section, as applicable.
History.ss. 15, 19, ch. 87-252; ss. 7, 19, 20, ch. 90-263; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 21, ch. 95-145; s. 12, ch. 95-279; s. 509, ch. 97-103; s. 169, ch. 99-397; s. 32, ch. 2000-242; s. 45, ch. 2020-133; s. 8, ch. 2022-63.
491.0065 Requirement for instruction on HIV and AIDS.The board shall require, as a condition of granting a license under this chapter, that an applicant making initial application for licensure complete an education course acceptable to the board on human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immune deficiency syndrome. An applicant who has not taken a course at the time of licensure shall, upon submission of an affidavit showing good cause, be allowed 6 months to complete this requirement.
History.s. 13, ch. 95-279.
491.007 Renewal of license, registration, or certificate.
(1) The board or department shall prescribe by rule a method for the biennial renewal of licenses or certificates at a fee set by rule, not to exceed $250.
(2) Each applicant for renewal shall present satisfactory evidence that, in the period since the license or certificate was issued, the applicant has completed continuing education requirements set by rule of the board or department. Not more than 25 classroom hours of continuing education per year shall be required. A certified master social worker is exempt from the continuing education requirements for the first renewal of the certificate.
History.ss. 15, 19, ch. 87-252; ss. 19, 20, ch. 90-263; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 288, ch. 94-119; s. 15, ch. 97-198; s. 207, ch. 97-264; s. 9, ch. 98-130; s. 46, ch. 2020-133.
491.008 Inactive status; reactivation of licenses; fees.
(1) Inactive status is the licensure status that results when a licensee has applied to be placed on inactive status and has paid a $50 fee to the department.
(a) An inactive license may be renewed biennially for $50 per biennium.
(b) An inactive license may be reactivated by submitting an application to the department, completing the continuing education requirements, complying with any background investigation required, complying with other requirements prescribed by the board, and paying a $50 reactivation fee plus the current biennial renewal fee at the time of reactivation.
(2) The board may adopt rules relating to inactive licenses and the reactivation of licenses.
History.ss. 15, 19, ch. 87-252; ss. 8, 19, 20, ch. 90-263; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 289, ch. 94-119.
491.0085 Continuing education and laws and rules courses; approval of providers, programs, and courses; proof of completion.
(1) Continuing education providers, programs, and courses and laws and rules courses and their providers and programs shall be approved by the department or the board.
(2) The department or the board has the authority to set a fee not to exceed $200 for each applicant who applies for or renews provider status. Such fees shall be deposited into the Medical Quality Assurance Trust Fund.
(3) Proof of completion of the required number of hours of continuing education and completion of the laws and rules course shall be submitted to the department or the board in the manner and time specified by rule and on forms provided by the department or the board.
(4) The department or the board shall adopt rules and guidelines to administer and enforce the provisions of this section.
History.ss. 15, 19, ch. 87-252; ss. 19, 20, ch. 90-263; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 14, ch. 95-279; s. 170, ch. 99-397.
491.009 Discipline.
(1) The following acts constitute grounds for denial of a license or disciplinary action, as specified in s. 456.072(2) or s. 491.017:
(a) Attempting to obtain, obtaining, or renewing a license, registration, or certificate under this chapter by bribery or fraudulent misrepresentation or through an error of the board or the department.
(b) Having a license, registration, or certificate to practice a comparable profession revoked, suspended, or otherwise acted against, including the denial of certification or licensure by another state, territory, or country.
(c) Being convicted or found guilty of, regardless of adjudication, or having entered a plea of nolo contendere to, a crime in any jurisdiction which directly relates to the practice of his or her profession or the ability to practice his or her profession. However, in the case of a plea of nolo contendere, the board shall allow the person who is the subject of the disciplinary proceeding to present evidence in mitigation relevant to the underlying charges and circumstances surrounding the plea.
(d) False, deceptive, or misleading advertising or obtaining a fee or other thing of value on the representation that beneficial results from any treatment will be guaranteed.
(e) Advertising, practicing, or attempting to practice under a name other than one’s own.
(f) Maintaining a professional association with any person who the applicant, licensee, registered intern, or certificateholder knows, or has reason to believe, is in violation of this chapter or of a rule of the department or the board.
(g) Knowingly aiding, assisting, procuring, or advising any nonlicensed, nonregistered, or noncertified person to hold himself or herself out as licensed, registered, or certified under this chapter.
(h) Failing to perform any statutory or legal obligation placed upon a person licensed, registered, or certified under this chapter.
(i) Willfully making or filing a false report or record; failing to file a report or record required by state or federal law; willfully impeding or obstructing the filing of a report or record; or inducing another person to make or file a false report or record or to impede or obstruct the filing of a report or record. Such report or record includes only a report or record which requires the signature of a person licensed, registered, or certified under this chapter.
(j) Paying a kickback, rebate, bonus, or other remuneration for receiving a patient or client, or receiving a kickback, rebate, bonus, or other remuneration for referring a patient or client to another provider of mental health care services or to a provider of health care services or goods; referring a patient or client to oneself for services on a fee-paid basis when those services are already being paid for by some other public or private entity; or entering into a reciprocal referral agreement.
(k) Committing any act upon a patient or client which would constitute sexual battery or which would constitute sexual misconduct as defined pursuant to s. 491.0111.
(l) Making misleading, deceptive, untrue, or fraudulent representations in the practice of any profession licensed, registered, or certified under this chapter.
(m) Soliciting patients or clients personally, or through an agent, through the use of fraud, intimidation, undue influence, or a form of overreaching or vexatious conduct.
(n) Failing to make available to a patient or client, upon written request, copies of tests, reports, or documents in the possession or under the control of the licensee, registered intern, or certificateholder which have been prepared for and paid for by the patient or client.
(o) Failing to respond within 30 days to a written communication from the department or the board concerning any investigation by the department or the board, or failing to make available any relevant records with respect to any investigation about the licensee’s, registered intern’s, or certificateholder’s conduct or background.
(p) Being unable to practice the profession for which he or she is licensed, registered, or certified under this chapter with reasonable skill or competence as a result of any mental or physical condition or by reason of illness; drunkenness; or excessive use of drugs, narcotics, chemicals, or any other substance. In enforcing this paragraph, upon a finding by the State Surgeon General, the State Surgeon General’s designee, or the board that probable cause exists to believe that the licensee, registered intern, or certificateholder is unable to practice the profession because of the reasons stated in this paragraph, the department shall have the authority to compel a licensee, registered intern, or certificateholder to submit to a mental or physical examination by psychologists, physicians, or other licensees under this chapter, designated by the department or board. If the licensee, registered intern, or certificateholder refuses to comply with such order, the department’s order directing the examination may be enforced by filing a petition for enforcement in the circuit court in the circuit in which the licensee, registered intern, or certificateholder resides or does business. The licensee, registered intern, or certificateholder against whom the petition is filed may not be named or identified by initials in any public court records or documents, and the proceedings shall be closed to the public. The department shall be entitled to the summary procedure provided in s. 51.011. A licensee, registered intern, or certificateholder affected under this paragraph shall at reasonable intervals be afforded an opportunity to demonstrate that he or she can resume the competent practice for which he or she is licensed, registered, or certified with reasonable skill and safety to patients.
(q) Performing any treatment or prescribing any therapy which, by the prevailing standards of the mental health professions in the community, would constitute experimentation on human subjects, without first obtaining full, informed, and written consent.
(r) Failing to meet the minimum standards of performance in professional activities when measured against generally prevailing peer performance, including the undertaking of activities for which the licensee, registered intern, or certificateholder is not qualified by training or experience.
(s) Delegating professional responsibilities to a person 1who the licensee, registered intern, or certificateholder knows or has reason to know is not qualified by training or experience to perform such responsibilities.
(t) Violating a rule relating to the regulation of the profession or a lawful order of the department or the board previously entered in a disciplinary hearing.
(u) Failure of the licensee, registered intern, or certificateholder to maintain in confidence a communication made by a patient or client in the context of such services, except as provided in s. 491.0147.
(v) Making public statements which are derived from test data, client contacts, or behavioral research and which identify or damage research subjects or clients.
(w) Violating any provision of this chapter or chapter 456, or any rules adopted pursuant thereto.
(2)(a) The board or, in the case of certified master social workers, the department may enter an order denying licensure or imposing any of the penalties authorized in s. 456.072(2) against any applicant for licensure or any licensee who violates subsection (1) or s. 456.072(1).
(b) The board may take adverse action against a clinical social worker’s, a marriage and family therapist’s, or a mental health counselor’s privilege to practice under the Professional Counselors Licensure Compact pursuant to s. 491.017 and may impose any of the penalties in s. 456.072(2) if the clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, or mental health counselor commits an act specified in subsection (1) or s. 456.072(1).
History.ss. 15, 19, ch. 87-252; ss. 9, 19, 20, ch. 90-263; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 229, ch. 96-410; s. 1136, ch. 97-103; s. 16, ch. 97-198; s. 208, ch. 97-264; s. 154, ch. 98-166; s. 214, ch. 2000-160; s. 53, ch. 2001-277; s. 28, ch. 2005-240; s. 103, ch. 2008-6; s. 9, ch. 2019-134; s. 123, ch. 2020-2; s. 47, ch. 2020-133; s. 9, ch. 2022-63.
1Note.The word “who” was substituted for the word “whom” by the editors.
491.0111 Sexual misconduct.Sexual misconduct by any person licensed or certified under this chapter, in the practice of her or his profession, is prohibited. Sexual misconduct shall be defined by rule.
History.ss. 15, 19, ch. 87-252; ss. 19, 20, ch. 90-263; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 510, ch. 97-103.
491.0112 Sexual misconduct by a psychotherapist; penalties.
(1) Any psychotherapist who commits sexual misconduct with a client, or former client when the professional relationship was terminated primarily for the purpose of engaging in sexual contact, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083; however, a second or subsequent offense is a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(2) Any psychotherapist who violates subsection (1) by means of therapeutic deception commits a felony of the second degree punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(3) The giving of consent by the client to any such act shall not be a defense to these offenses.
(4) For the purposes of this section, the term:
(a) “Client” means a person to whom the services of a psychotherapist are provided.
(b) “Female genitals” includes the labia minora, labia majora, clitoris, vulva, hymen, and vagina.
(c) “Psychotherapist” means any person licensed pursuant to chapter 458, chapter 459, part I of chapter 464, chapter 490, or chapter 491, or any other person who provides or purports to provide treatment, diagnosis, assessment, evaluation, or counseling of mental or emotional illness, symptom, or condition.
(d) “Sexual misconduct” means the oral, anal, or female genital penetration of another by, or contact with, the sexual organ of another or the anal or female genital penetration of another by any object.
(e) “Therapeutic deception” means a representation to the client that sexual contact by the psychotherapist is consistent with or part of the treatment of the client.
History.s. 1, ch. 90-70; s. 13, ch. 91-201; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 137, ch. 2000-318; s. 2, ch. 2022-165.
491.012 Violations; penalty; injunction.
(1) It is unlawful and a violation of this chapter for any person to:
(a) Use the following titles or any combination thereof, unless she or he holds a valid, active license as a clinical social worker issued pursuant to this chapter:
1. “Licensed clinical social worker.”
2. “Clinical social worker.”
3. “Licensed social worker.”
4. “Psychiatric social worker.”
5. “Psychosocial worker.”
(b) Use the following titles or any combination thereof, unless she or he holds a valid, active license as a marriage and family therapist issued pursuant to this chapter:
1. “Licensed marriage and family therapist.”
2. “Marriage and family therapist.”
3. “Marriage counselor.”
4. “Marriage consultant.”
5. “Family therapist.”
6. “Family counselor.”
7. “Family consultant.”
(c) Use the following titles or any combination thereof, unless she or he holds a valid, active license as a mental health counselor issued pursuant to this chapter:
1. “Licensed mental health counselor.”
2. “Mental health counselor.”
3. “Mental health therapist.”
4. “Mental health consultant.”
(d) Use the terms psychotherapist, sex therapist, or juvenile sexual offender therapist unless such person is licensed pursuant to this chapter or chapter 490, or is licensed under s. 464.012 as an advanced practice registered nurse who has been determined by the Board of Nursing as a specialist in psychiatric mental health and the use of such terms is within the scope of her or his practice based on education, training, and licensure.
(e) Present as her or his own the clinical social work, marriage and family therapy, or mental health counseling license of another.
(f) Give false or forged evidence to the board or a member thereof for the purpose of obtaining a license.
(g) Use or attempt to use a license issued pursuant to this chapter which has been revoked or is under suspension.
(h) Knowingly conceal information relative to violations of this chapter.
(i) Practice clinical social work in this state for compensation, unless the person holds a valid, active license to practice clinical social work issued pursuant to this chapter or is an intern registered pursuant to s. 491.0045.
(j) Practice marriage and family therapy in this state for compensation, unless the person holds a valid, active license to practice marriage and family therapy issued pursuant to this chapter or is an intern registered pursuant to s. 491.0045.
(k) Practice mental health counseling in this state for compensation, unless the person holds a valid, active license to practice mental health counseling issued pursuant to this chapter or is an intern registered pursuant to s. 491.0045.
(l) Use the following titles or any combination thereof, unless he or she holds a valid registration as an intern issued pursuant to this chapter:
1. “Registered clinical social worker intern.”
2. “Registered marriage and family therapist intern.”
3. “Registered mental health counselor intern.”
(m) Use the following titles or any combination thereof, unless he or she holds a valid provisional license issued pursuant to this chapter:
1. “Provisional clinical social worker licensee.”
2. “Provisional marriage and family therapist licensee.”
3. “Provisional mental health counselor licensee.”
(n) Practice juvenile sexual offender therapy in this state, as the practice is defined in s. 491.0144, for compensation, unless the person holds an active license issued under this chapter and meets the requirements to practice juvenile sexual offender therapy. An unlicensed person may be employed by a program operated by or under contract with the Department of Juvenile Justice or the Department of Children and Families if the program employs a professional who is licensed under chapter 458, chapter 459, s. 490.0145, or s. 491.0144 who manages or supervises the treatment services.
(2) It is unlawful and a violation of this chapter for any person to describe her or his services using the following terms or any derivative thereof, unless such person holds a valid, active license under this chapter or chapter 490, or is licensed under s. 464.012 as an advanced practice registered nurse who has been determined by the Board of Nursing as a specialist in psychiatric mental health and the use of such terms is within the scope of her or his practice based on education, training, and licensure:
(a) “Psychotherapy.”
(b) “Sex therapy.”
(c) “Sex counseling.”
(d) “Clinical social work.”
(e) “Psychiatric social work.”
(f) “Marriage and family therapy.”
(g) “Marriage and family counseling.”
(h) “Marriage counseling.”
(i) “Family counseling.”
(j) “Mental health counseling.”
(3) Any person who violates any provision of subsection (1) or subsection (2) commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(4) The department may institute appropriate judicial proceedings to enjoin violation of this section.
History.ss. 15, 19, ch. 87-252; s. 30, ch. 88-392; ss. 11, 19, 20, ch. 90-263; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 118, ch. 92-149; s. 511, ch. 97-103; s. 17, ch. 97-198; s. 209, ch. 97-264; s. 4, ch. 98-158; s. 127, ch. 2001-277511, ch. 97-103; s. 17, ch. 97-198; s. 209, ch. 97-264; s. 4, ch. 98-158; s. 127, ch. 2001-277; s. 274, ch. 2014-19; s. 70, ch. 2018-106; s. 87, ch. 2019-3.
491.014 Exemptions.
(1) No provision of this chapter shall be construed to limit the practice of physicians licensed pursuant to chapter 458 or chapter 459, or psychologists licensed pursuant to chapter 490, so long as they do not unlawfully hold themselves out to the public as possessing a license, provisional license, registration, or certificate issued pursuant to this chapter or use a professional title protected by this chapter.
(2) No provision of this chapter shall be construed to limit the practice of nursing, school psychology, psychology, or occupational therapy, or to prevent qualified members of other professions from doing work of a nature consistent with their training and licensure, so long as they do not hold themselves out to the public as possessing a license, provisional license, registration, or certificate issued pursuant to this chapter or use a title protected by this chapter.
(3) No provision of this chapter shall be construed to limit the performance of activities of a rabbi, priest, minister, or member of the clergy of any religious denomination or sect, or use of the terms “Christian counselor” or “Christian clinical counselor” when the activities are within the scope of the performance of his or her regular or specialized ministerial duties and no compensation is received by him or her, or when such activities are performed, with or without compensation, by a person for or under the auspices or sponsorship, individually or in conjunction with others, of an established and legally cognizable church, denomination, or sect, and when the person rendering service remains accountable to the established authority thereof.
(4) No person shall be required to be licensed, provisionally licensed, registered, or certified under this chapter who:
(a) Is a salaried employee of a government agency; a developmental disability facility or program; a mental health, alcohol, or drug abuse facility operating under chapter 393, chapter 394, or chapter 397; the statewide child care resource and referral network operating under s. 1002.92; a child-placing or child-caring agency licensed pursuant to chapter 409; a domestic violence center certified pursuant to chapter 39; an accredited academic institution; or a research institution, if such employee is performing duties for which he or she was trained and hired solely within the confines of such agency, facility, or institution, so long as the employee is not held out to the public as a clinical social worker, mental health counselor, or marriage and family therapist.
(b) Is a salaried employee of a private, nonprofit organization providing counseling services to children, youth, and families, if such services are provided for no charge, if such employee is performing duties for which he or she was trained and hired, so long as the employee is not held out to the public as a clinical social worker, mental health counselor, or marriage and family therapist.
(c) Is a student providing services regulated under this chapter who is pursuing a course of study which leads to a degree in a profession regulated by this chapter, is providing services in a training setting, provided such services and associated activities constitute part of a supervised course of study, and is designated by the title “student intern.”
(d) Is not a resident of this state but offers services in this state, provided:
1. Such services are performed for no more than 15 days in any calendar year; and
2. Such nonresident is licensed or certified to practice the services provided by a state or territory of the United States or by a foreign country or province.
(5) No provision of this chapter shall be construed to limit the practice of any individual who solely engages in behavior analysis so long as he or she does not hold himself or herself out to the public as possessing a license issued pursuant to this chapter or use a title protected by this chapter.
(6) Nothing in subsections (2)-(4) shall exempt any person from the provisions of s. 491.012(1)(a)-(c), (l), and (m).
(7) Except as stipulated by the board, the exemptions contained in this section do not apply to any person licensed under this chapter whose license has been suspended or revoked by the board or another jurisdiction.
(8) Nothing in this section shall be construed to exempt a person from meeting the minimum standards of performance in professional activities when measured against generally prevailing peer performance, including the undertaking of activities for which the person is not qualified by training or experience.
History.ss. 15, 19, ch. 87-252; ss. 12, 19, 20, ch. 90-263; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 120, ch. 92-149; s. 34, ch. 93-39; s. 15, ch. 95-279; s. 512, ch. 97-103; s. 18, ch. 97-198; s. 210, ch. 97-264; s. 157, ch. 98-403; s. 171, ch. 99-397; s. 128, ch. 2001-277; s. 63, ch. 2006-227; s. 25, ch. 2010-210; s. 27, ch. 2013-252; s. 7, ch. 2022-30.
491.0141 Practice of hypnosis.A person licensed under this chapter who is qualified as determined by the board may practice hypnosis as defined in s. 485.003(1). The provisions of this chapter may not be interpreted to limit or affect the right of any person qualified pursuant to chapter 485 to practice hypnosis pursuant to that chapter or to practice hypnosis for nontherapeutic purposes, so long as such person does not hold herself or himself out to the public as possessing a license issued pursuant to this chapter or use a title protected by this chapter.
History.ss. 15, 19, ch. 87-252; ss. 19, 20, ch. 90-263; s. 4, ch. 91-429; ss. 121, 127, ch. 92-149; s. 2, ch. 95-279; s. 513, ch. 97-103; s. 215, ch. 2000-160.
491.0143 Practice of sex therapy.Only a person licensed by this chapter who meets the qualifications set by the board may hold herself or himself out as a sex therapist. The board shall define these qualifications by rule. In establishing these qualifications, the board may refer to the sexual disorder and sexual dysfunction sections of the most current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association or other relevant publications.
History.ss. 15, 19, ch. 87-252; ss. 19, 20, ch. 90-263; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 514, ch. 97-103.
491.0144 The practice of juvenile sexual offender therapy.Only a person licensed by this chapter who meets the qualifications set by the board may hold himself or herself out as a juvenile sexual offender therapist, except as provided in s. 490.0145. These qualifications shall be determined by the board. The board shall require training and coursework in the specific areas of juvenile sexual offender behaviors, treatments, and related issues. In establishing these qualifications, the board may refer to the sexual disorder and dysfunction sections of the most current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers Practitioner’s Handbook, or other relevant publications.
History.s. 5, ch. 98-158.
491.0145 Certified master social worker.The department may certify an applicant for a designation as a certified master social worker upon the following conditions:
(1) The applicant completes an application to be provided by the department and pays a nonrefundable fee not to exceed $250 to be established by rule of the department. The completed application must be received by the department at least 60 days before the date of the examination in order for the applicant to qualify to take the scheduled exam.
(2) The applicant submits proof satisfactory to the department that the applicant has received a doctoral degree in social work, or a master’s degree with a major emphasis or specialty in clinical practice or administration, including, but not limited to, agency administration and supervision, program planning and evaluation, staff development, research, community organization, community services, social planning, and human service advocacy. Doctoral degrees must have been received from a graduate school of social work which at the time the applicant was enrolled and graduated was accredited by an accrediting agency approved by the United States Department of Education. Master’s degrees must have been received from a graduate school of social work which at the time the applicant was enrolled and graduated was accredited by the Council on Social Work Education or the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work or by one that meets comparable standards.
(3) The applicant has had at least 3 years’ experience, as defined by rule, including, but not limited to, clinical services or administrative activities as defined in subsection (2), 2 years of which must be at the post-master’s level under the supervision of a person who meets the education and experience requirements for certification as a certified master social worker, as defined by rule, or licensure as a clinical social worker under this chapter. A doctoral internship may be applied toward the supervision requirement.
(4) Any person who holds a master’s degree in social work from institutions outside the United States may apply to the department for certification if the academic training in social work has been evaluated as equivalent to a degree from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Any such person shall submit a copy of the academic training from the Foreign Equivalency Determination Service of the Council on Social Work Education.
(5) The applicant has passed an examination required by the department for this purpose. The nonrefundable fee for such examination may not exceed $250 as set by department rule.
(6) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to authorize a certified master social worker to provide clinical social work services.
History.ss. 15, 19, ch. 87-252; ss. 14, 19, 20, ch. 90-263; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 10, ch. 98-130; s. 33, ch. 2000-242.
491.0147 Confidentiality and privileged communications.Any communication between any person licensed or certified under this chapter and her or his patient or client is confidential.
(1) This privilege may be waived under the following conditions:
(a) When the person licensed or certified under this chapter is a party defendant to a civil, criminal, or disciplinary action arising from a complaint filed by the patient or client, in which case the waiver shall be limited to that action.
(b) When the patient or client agrees to the waiver, in writing, or, when more than one person in a family is receiving therapy, when each family member agrees to the waiver, in writing.
(c) When a patient or client has communicated to the person licensed or certified under this chapter a specific threat to cause serious bodily injury or death to an identified or readily available person, and the person licensed or certified under this chapter makes a clinical judgment that the patient or client has the apparent intent and ability to imminently or immediately carry out such threat, and the person licensed or certified under this chapter communicates the information to the potential victim. A disclosure of confidential communications by a person licensed or certified under this chapter when communicating a threat pursuant to this subsection may not be the basis of any legal action or criminal or civil liability against such person.
(2) This privilege must be waived, and the person licensed or certified under this chapter shall disclose patient or client communications to the extent necessary to communicate the threat to a law enforcement agency, if a patient or client has communicated to such person a specific threat to cause serious bodily injury or death to an identified or readily available person, and the person licensed or certified under this chapter makes a clinical judgment that the patient or client has the apparent intent and ability to imminently or immediately carry out such threat. A law enforcement agency that receives notification of a specific threat under this subsection must take appropriate action to prevent the risk of harm, including, but not limited to, notifying the intended victim of such threat or initiating a risk protection order. A disclosure of confidential communications by a person licensed or certified under this chapter when communicating a threat pursuant to this subsection may not be the basis of any legal action or criminal or civil liability against such person.
History.ss. 15, 19, ch. 87-252; ss. 19, 20, ch. 90-263; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 515, ch. 97-103; s. 1, ch. 2009-103; s. 6, ch. 2019-134.
491.0148 Records.Each psychotherapist who provides services as defined in this chapter shall maintain records. The board may adopt rules defining the minimum requirements for records and reports, including content, length of time records shall be maintained, and transfer of either the records or a report of such records to a subsequent treating practitioner or other individual with written consent of the client or clients.
History.ss. 13, 20, ch. 90-263; s. 4, ch. 91-429.
491.0149 Display of license; use of professional title on promotional materials.
(1)(a) A person licensed under this chapter as a clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, or mental health counselor, or certified as a master social worker shall conspicuously display the valid license issued by the department or a true copy thereof at each location at which the licensee practices his or her profession.
(b)1. A licensed clinical social worker shall include the words “licensed clinical social worker” or the letters “LCSW” on all promotional materials, including cards, brochures, stationery, advertisements, and signs, naming the licensee.
2. A licensed marriage and family therapist shall include the words “licensed marriage and family therapist” or the letters “LMFT” on all promotional materials, including cards, brochures, stationery, advertisements, and signs, naming the licensee.
3. A licensed mental health counselor shall include the words “licensed mental health counselor” or the letters “LMHC” on all promotional materials, including cards, brochures, stationery, advertisements, and signs, naming the licensee.
(2)(a) A person registered under this chapter as a clinical social worker intern, marriage and family therapist intern, or mental health counselor intern shall conspicuously display the valid registration issued by the department or a true copy thereof at each location at which the registered intern is completing the experience requirements.
(b) A registered clinical social worker intern shall include the words “registered clinical social worker intern,” a registered marriage and family therapist intern shall include the words “registered marriage and family therapist intern,” and a registered mental health counselor intern shall include the words “registered mental health counselor intern” on all promotional materials, including cards, brochures, stationery, advertisements, and signs, naming the registered intern.
(3)(a) A person provisionally licensed under this chapter as a provisional clinical social worker licensee, provisional marriage and family therapist licensee, or provisional mental health counselor licensee shall conspicuously display the valid provisional license issued by the department or a true copy thereof at each location at which the provisional licensee is providing services.
(b) A provisional clinical social worker licensee shall include the words “provisional clinical social worker licensee,” a provisional marriage and family therapist licensee shall include the words “provisional marriage and family therapist licensee,” and a provisional mental health counselor licensee shall include the words “provisional mental health counselor licensee” on all promotional materials, including cards, brochures, stationery, advertisements, and signs, naming the provisional licensee.
History.ss. 15, 20, ch. 90-263; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 516, ch. 97-103; s. 19, ch. 97-198; s. 211, ch. 97-264.
491.015 Duties of the department as to certified master social workers.
(1) All functions reserved to boards under chapter 456 shall be exercised by the department with respect to the regulation of certified master social workers and in a manner consistent with the exercise of its regulatory functions.
(2) The department shall adopt rules to implement and enforce provisions relating to certified master social workers.
History.ss. 15, 19, ch. 87-252; ss. 16, 19, 20, ch. 90-263; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 155, ch. 98-166; s. 216, ch. 2000-160.
491.016 Social work; use of title.
(1) A social worker is not authorized to conduct clinical social work without obtaining and possessing a license or certification issued pursuant to this chapter.
(2) It shall be a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083, for a person, for or without compensation, to hold himself or herself out to the public as a social worker either directly or through a governmental or private organization, entity, or agency unless that person:
(a) Possesses at least a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work from a social work program accredited by or from an institution that is an active candidate for accreditation as a social work program by the Council on Social Work Education; or
(b) Completes, at a university or college outside the United States or Canada, a social work program determined by the Foreign Equivalency Determination Service of the Council on Social Work Education to be equivalent to a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work.
(3) This section does not apply to:
(a) A person who, prior to July 1, 2008, used the title “social worker” in his or her employment.
(b) Employees providing social work services under administrative supervision in long-term care facilities licensed by the Agency for Health Care Administration.
(4) The department shall adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to implement and enforce this section.
History.s. 3, ch. 2008-154.
491.017 Professional Counselors Licensure Compact.The Professional Counselors Licensure Compact is hereby enacted and entered into by this state with all other jurisdictions legally joining therein in the form substantially as follows:

ARTICLE I

PURPOSE

The compact is designed to achieve the following purposes and objectives:

(1) Facilitate interstate practice of licensed professional counseling to increase public access to professional counseling services by providing for the mutual recognition of other member state licenses.

(2) Enhance the member states’ ability to protect the public’s health and safety.

(3) Encourage the cooperation of member states in regulating multistate practice of licensed professional counselors.

(4) Support spouses of relocating active duty military personnel.

(5) Facilitate the exchange of information between member states regarding licensure, investigations, adverse actions, and disciplinary history of licensed professional counselors.

(6) Allow for the use of telehealth technology to facilitate increased access to professional counseling services.

(7) Support the uniformity of professional counseling licensure requirements throughout member states to promote public safety and public health benefits.

(8) Provide member states with the authority to hold a licensed professional counselor accountable for meeting all state practice laws in the state in which the client is located at the time care is rendered through the mutual recognition of member state licenses.

(9) Eliminate the necessity for licensed professional counselors to hold licenses in multiple states and provide opportunities for interstate practice by licensed professional counselors who meet uniform licensure requirements.

ARTICLE II

DEFINITIONS

As used in this compact, the term:

(1) “Active duty military” means full-time duty status in the active uniformed service of the United States, including, but not limited to, members of the National Guard and Reserve on active duty orders pursuant to 10 U.S.C. chapters 1209 and 1211.

(2) “Adverse action” means any administrative, civil, or criminal action authorized by a state’s laws which is imposed by a licensing board or other authority against a licensed professional counselor, including actions against an individual’s license or privilege to practice, such as revocation, suspension, probation, monitoring of the licensee, limitation on the licensee’s practice, issuance of a cease and desist action, or any other encumbrance on licensure affecting a licensed professional counselor’s authorization to practice.

(3) “Alternative program” means a nondisciplinary monitoring or practice remediation process approved by a professional counseling licensing board to address impaired practitioners.

(4) “Continuing education” means a requirement, as a condition of license renewal, to participate in or complete educational and professional activities relevant to the licensee’s practice or area of work.

(5) “Counseling Compact Commission” or “commission” means the national administrative body whose membership consists of all states that have enacted the compact.

(6) “Current significant investigative information” means:

(a) Investigative information that a licensing board, after a preliminary inquiry that includes notification and an opportunity for the licensed professional counselor to respond, if required by state law, has reason to believe is not groundless and, if proved true, would indicate more than a minor infraction; or

(b) Investigative information that indicates that the licensed professional counselor represents an immediate threat to public health and safety, regardless of whether the licensed professional counselor has been notified and had an opportunity to respond.

(7) “Data system” means a repository of information about licensees, including, but not limited to, information relating to continuing education, examinations, licensure statuses, investigations, the privilege to practice, and adverse actions.

(8) “Encumbered license” means a license in which an adverse action restricts the practice of licensed professional counseling by the licensee and said adverse action has been reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank.

(9) “Encumbrance” means a revocation or suspension of, or any limitation on, the full and unrestricted practice of licensed professional counseling by a licensing board.

(10) “Executive committee” means a group of directors elected or appointed to act on behalf of, and within the powers granted to them by, the commission.

(11) “Home state” means the member state that is the licensee’s primary state of residence.

(12) “Impaired practitioner” means an individual who has a condition that may impair his or her ability to safely practice as a licensed professional counselor without intervention. Such impairment may include, but is not limited to, alcohol or drug dependence, mental health conditions, and neurological or physical conditions.

(13) “Investigative information” means information, records, or documents received or generated by a professional counseling licensing board pursuant to an investigation.

(14) “Jurisprudence requirement,” if required by a member state, means the assessment of an individual’s knowledge of the laws and rules governing the practice of professional counseling in a state.

(15) “Licensed professional counselor” means a counselor licensed by a member state, regardless of the title used by that state, to independently assess, diagnose, and treat behavioral health conditions.

(16) “Licensee” means an individual who currently holds an authorization from the state to practice as a licensed professional counselor.

(17) “Licensing board” means the agency of a state, or equivalent, that is responsible for the licensing and regulation of licensed professional counselors.

(18) “Member state” means a state that has enacted the compact.

(19) “Privilege to practice” means a legal authorization, which is equivalent to a license, authorizing the practice of professional counseling in a remote state.

(20) “Professional counseling” means the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of behavioral health conditions by a licensed professional counselor.

(21) “Remote state” means a member state, other than the home state, where a licensee is exercising or seeking to exercise the privilege to practice.

(22) “Rule” means a regulation adopted by the commission which has the force of law.

(23) “Single state license” means a licensed professional counselor license issued by a member state which authorizes practice only within the issuing state and does not include a privilege to practice in any other member state.

(24) “State” means any state, commonwealth, district, or territory of the United States of America which regulates the practice of professional counseling.

(25) “Telehealth” means the application of telecommunication technology to deliver professional counseling services remotely to assess, diagnose, and treat behavioral health conditions.

(26) “Unencumbered license” means a license that authorizes a licensed professional counselor to engage in the full and unrestricted practice of professional counseling.

ARTICLE III

STATE PARTICIPATION

(1) To participate in the compact, a state must currently do all of the following:

(a) License and regulate licensed professional counselors.

(b) Require licensees to pass a nationally recognized exam approved by the commission.

(c) Require licensees to have a 60 semester-hour, or 90 quarter-hour, master’s degree in counseling or 60 semester hours, or 90 quarter hours, of graduate coursework including all of the following topic areas:

1. Professional counseling orientation and ethical practice.

2. Social and cultural diversity.

3. Human growth and development.

4. Career development.

5. Counseling and helping relationships.

6. Group counseling and group work.

7. Diagnosis, assessment, testing, and treatment.

8. Research and program evaluation.

9. Other areas as determined by the commission.

(d) Require licensees to complete a supervised postgraduate professional experience as defined by the commission.

(e) Have a mechanism in place for receiving and investigating complaints about licensees.

(2) A member state shall do all of the following:

(a) Participate fully in the commission’s data system, including using the commission’s unique identifier as defined in rules adopted by the commission.

(b) Notify the commission, in compliance with the terms of the compact and rules adopted by the commission, of any adverse action or the availability of investigative information regarding a licensee.

(c) Implement or utilize procedures for considering the criminal history records of applicants for an initial privilege to practice. These procedures must include the submission of fingerprints or other biometric-based information by applicants for the purpose of obtaining an applicant’s criminal history record information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the agency responsible for retaining that state’s criminal records.

1. A member state must fully implement a criminal background check requirement, within a timeframe established by rule, by receiving the results of the Federal Bureau of Investigation record search and shall use the results in making licensure decisions.

2. Communication between a member state and the commission and among member states regarding the verification of eligibility for licensure through the compact may not include any information received from the Federal Bureau of Investigation relating to a federal criminal records check performed by a member state under Pub. L. No. 92-544.

(d) Comply with the rules adopted by the commission.

(e) Require an applicant to obtain or retain a license in the home state and meet the home state’s qualifications for licensure or renewal of licensure, as well as all other applicable state laws.

(f) Grant the privilege to practice to a licensee holding a valid unencumbered license in another member state in accordance with the terms of the compact and rules adopted by the commission.

(g) Provide for the attendance of the state’s commissioner at the commission meetings.

(3) Individuals not residing in a member state may continue to apply for a member state’s single state license as provided under the laws of each member state. However, the single state license granted to these individuals may not be recognized as granting a privilege to practice professional counseling under the compact in any other member state.

(4) Nothing in this compact affects the requirements established by a member state for the issuance of a single state license.

(5) A professional counselor license issued by a home state to a resident of that state must be recognized by each member state as authorizing that licensed professional counselor to practice professional counseling, under a privilege to practice, in each member state.

ARTICLE IV

PRIVILEGE TO PRACTICE

(1) To exercise the privilege to practice under the terms and provisions of the compact, the licensee must meet all of the following criteria:

(a) Hold a license in the home state.

(b) Have a valid United States social security number or national provider identifier.

(c) Be eligible for a privilege to practice in any member state in accordance with subsections (4), (7), and (8).

(d) Have not had any encumbrance or restriction against any license or privilege to practice within the preceding 2 years.

(e) Notify the commission that the licensee is seeking the privilege to practice within a remote state.

(f) Meet any continuing education requirements established by the home state.

(g) Meet any jurisprudence requirements established by the remote state in which the licensee is seeking a privilege to practice.

(h) Report to the commission any adverse action, encumbrance, or restriction on a license taken by any nonmember state within 30 days after the action is taken.

(2) The privilege to practice is valid until the expiration date of the home state license. The licensee must continue to meet the criteria specified in subsection (1) to renew the privilege to practice in the remote state.

(3) For purposes of the compact, the practice of professional counseling occurs in the state where the client is located at the time of the counseling services. The compact does not affect the regulatory authority of states to protect public health and safety through their own system of state licensure.

(4) A licensee providing professional counseling in a remote state under the privilege to practice must adhere to the laws and regulations of the remote state.

(5) A licensee providing professional counseling services in a remote state is subject to that state’s regulatory authority. A remote state may, in accordance with due process and that state’s laws, remove a licensee’s privilege to practice in the remote state for a specified period of time, impose fines, or take any other action necessary to protect the health and safety of its residents. The licensee may be ineligible for a privilege to practice in any member state until the specific time for removal has passed and all fines are paid.

(6) If a home state license is encumbered, a licensee loses the privilege to practice in any remote state until both of the following conditions are met:

(a) The home state license is no longer encumbered.

(b) The licensee has not had any encumbrance or restriction against any license or privilege to practice within the preceding 2 years.

(7) Once an encumbered license in the licensee’s home state is restored to good standing, the licensee may obtain a privilege to practice in any remote state if he or she meets the requirements of subsection (1).

(8) If a licensee’s privilege to practice in any remote state is removed, the individual may lose the privilege to practice in all other remote states until all of the following conditions are met:

(a) The specified period of time for which the privilege to practice was removed has ended.

(b) The licensee has paid all fines imposed.

(c) The licensee has not had any encumbrance or restriction against any license or privilege to practice within the preceding 2 years.

(9) Once the requirements of subsection (8) have been met, the licensee may obtain a privilege to practice in a remote state if he or she meets the requirements in subsection (1).

ARTICLE V

OBTAINING A NEW HOME STATE LICENSE
BASED ON A PRIVILEGE TO PRACTICE

(1) A licensed professional counselor may hold a home state license, which allows for a privilege to practice in other member states, in only one member state at a time.

(2) If a licensed professional counselor changes his or her primary state of residence by moving between two member states, then the licensed professional counselor must file an application for obtaining a new home state license based on a privilege to practice and notify the current and new home state in accordance with applicable rules adopted by the commission.

(3) Upon receipt of an application for obtaining a new home state license based on a privilege to practice, the new home state must verify that the licensed professional counselor meets the criteria outlined in Article IV through the data system. The new home state does not need to seek primary source verification for information obtained from the data system, except for the following:

(a) A Federal Bureau of Investigation fingerprint-based criminal background check, if not previously performed or updated pursuant to applicable rules adopted by the commission in accordance with Pub. L. No. 92-544;

(b) Any other criminal background check as required by the new home state; and

(c) Proof of completion of any requisite jurisprudence requirements of the new home state.

(4) The former home state shall convert the former home state license into a privilege to practice once the new home state has activated the new home state license in accordance with applicable rules adopted by the commission.

(5) Notwithstanding any other provision of the compact, if the licensed professional counselor does not meet the criteria in Article IV, the new home state may apply its own requirements for issuing a new single state license.

(6) If a licensed professional counselor changes his or her primary state of residence by moving from a member state to a nonmember state or from a nonmember state to a member state, the new state’s own criteria apply for issuance of a single state license in the new state.

(7) The compact does not interfere with a licensee’s ability to hold a single state license in multiple states. However, for the purposes of the compact, a licensee may have only one home state license.

(8) The compact does not affect the requirements established by a member state for the issuance of a single state license.

ARTICLE VI

ACTIVE DUTY MILITARY PERSONNEL
AND THEIR SPOUSES

Active duty military personnel, or their spouse, shall designate a home state where the individual has a current license in good standing. The individual may retain the home state license designation during the period the servicemember is on active duty. Subsequent to designating a home state, the individual may change his or her home state only through application for licensure in the new state or through the process outlined in Article V.

ARTICLE VII

COMPACT PRIVILEGE TO PRACTICE TELEHEALTH

(1) Member states shall recognize the right of a licensed professional counselor, licensed by a home state in accordance with Article III and under rules adopted by the commission, to practice professional counseling in any member state through telehealth under a privilege to practice as provided in the compact and rules adopted by the commission.

(2) A licensee providing professional counseling services in a remote state through telehealth under the privilege to practice must adhere to the laws and rules of the remote state.

ARTICLE VIII

ADVERSE ACTIONS

(1) In addition to the other powers conferred by state law, a remote state has the authority, in accordance with existing state due process law, to do any of the following:

(a) Take adverse action against a licensed professional counselor’s privilege to practice within that member state.

(b) Issue subpoenas for both hearings and investigations that require the attendance and testimony of witnesses or the production of evidence. Subpoenas issued by a licensing board in a member state for the attendance and testimony of witnesses or the production of evidence from another member state must be enforced in the latter state by any court of competent jurisdiction, according to the practice and procedure of that court applicable to subpoenas issued in proceedings pending before it. The issuing authority shall pay any witness fees, travel expenses, mileage, and other fees required by the service statutes of the state in which the witnesses or evidence is located.

(2) Only the home state has the power to take adverse action against a licensed professional counselor’s license issued by the home state.

(3) For purposes of taking adverse action, the home state shall give the same priority and effect to reported conduct received from a member state as it would if the conduct had occurred within the home state. The home state shall apply its own state laws to determine appropriate action in such cases.

(4) The home state shall complete any pending investigations of a licensed professional counselor who changes primary state of residence during the course of the investigations. The home state may also take appropriate action and shall promptly report the conclusions of the investigations to the administrator of the data system. The administrator of the data system shall promptly notify the new home state of any adverse actions.

(5) A member state, if authorized by state law, may recover from the affected licensed professional counselor the costs of investigations and dispositions of any cases resulting from adverse action taken against that licensed professional counselor.

(6) A member state may take adverse action against a licensed professional counselor based on the factual findings of a remote state, provided that the member state follows its own statutory procedures for taking adverse action.

(7)(a) In addition to the authority granted to a member state by its respective professional counseling practice act or other applicable state law, any member state may participate with other member states in joint investigations of licensees.

(b) Member states shall share any investigative, litigation, or compliance materials in furtherance of any joint or individual investigation initiated under the compact.

(8) If adverse action is taken by the home state against the license of a professional counselor, the licensed professional counselor’s privilege to practice in all other member states must be deactivated until all encumbrances have been removed from the home state license. All home state disciplinary orders that impose adverse action against the license of a professional counselor must include a statement that the licensed professional counselor’s privilege to practice is deactivated in all member states while the order is in effect.

(9) If a member state takes adverse action, it must promptly notify the administrator of the data system. The administrator shall promptly notify the licensee’s home state of any adverse actions by remote states.

(10) Nothing in the compact overrides a member state’s decision to allow a licensed professional counselor to participate in an alternative program in lieu of adverse action.

ARTICLE IX

ESTABLISHMENT OF
COUNSELING COMPACT COMMISSION

(1) COMMISSION CREATED.The compact member states hereby create and establish a joint public agency known as the Counseling Compact Commission.

(a) The commission is an instrumentality of the compact states.

(b) Venue is proper, and judicial proceedings by or against the commission shall be brought solely and exclusively in a court of competent jurisdiction where the principal office of the commission is located. The commission may waive venue and jurisdictional defenses to the extent that it adopts or consents to participate in alternative dispute resolution proceedings.

(c) Nothing in the compact may be construed to be a waiver of sovereign immunity.

(2) MEMBERSHIP.

(a) The commission shall consist of one voting delegate, appointed by each member state’s licensing board. The commission, by rule, shall establish a term of office for delegates and may establish term limits.

(b) The delegate must be either:

1. A current member of the licensing board at the time of appointment, who is a licensed professional counselor or public member; or

2. An administrator of the licensing board.

(c) A delegate may be removed or suspended from office as provided by the law of the state from which the delegate is appointed.

(d) The member state licensing board must fill any vacancy occurring on the commission within 60 days.

(e) Each delegate is entitled to one vote with regard to the adoption of rules and creation of bylaws and shall otherwise participate in the business and affairs of the commission.

(f) A delegate shall vote in person or by such other means as provided in the bylaws. The bylaws may provide for delegates’ participation in meetings by telephone or other means of communication.

(3) MEETINGS OF THE COMMISSION.

(a) The commission shall meet at least once during each calendar year. Additional meetings must be held as set forth in the bylaws.

(b) All meetings must be open to the public, and public notice of meetings must be given in the same manner as required under the rulemaking provisions in Article XI.

(c) The commission or the executive committee or other committees of the commission may convene in a closed, nonpublic meeting if the commission or executive committee or other committees of the commission must discuss any of the following:

1. Noncompliance of a member state with its obligations under the compact.

2. The employment, compensation, discipline, or other matters, practices, or procedures related to specific employees, or other matters related to the commission’s internal personnel practices and procedures.

3. Current, threatened, or reasonably anticipated litigation.

4. Negotiation of contracts for the purchase, lease, or sale of goods, services, or real estate.

5. Accusing any person of a crime or formally censuring any person.

6. Disclosure of trade secrets or commercial or financial information that is privileged or confidential.

7. Disclosure of information of a personal nature if disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

8. Disclosure of investigative records compiled for law enforcement purposes.

9. Disclosure of information related to any investigative reports prepared by or on behalf of or for use of the commission or other committee charged with responsibility of investigation or determination of compliance issues pursuant to the compact.

10. Matters specifically exempted from disclosure by federal or member state law.

(d) If a meeting, or portion of a meeting, is closed under this subsection, the commission’s legal counsel or designee must certify that the meeting may be closed and must reference each relevant exempting provision.

(e) The commission shall keep minutes that fully and clearly describe all matters discussed in a meeting and shall provide a full and accurate summary of actions taken, and the reasons therefor, including a description of the views expressed. All documents considered in connection with an action must be identified in such minutes. All minutes and documents of a closed meeting must remain under seal, subject to release by a majority vote of the commission or order of a court of competent jurisdiction.

(4) POWERS.The commission may do any of the following:

(a) Establish the fiscal year of the commission.

(b) Establish bylaws.

(c) Maintain its financial records in accordance with the bylaws.

(d) Meet and take actions that are consistent with the compact and bylaws.

(e) Adopt rules that are binding to the extent and in the manner provided for in the compact.

(f) Initiate and prosecute legal proceedings or actions in the name of the commission, provided that the standing of any state licensing board to sue or be sued under applicable law is not affected.

(g) Purchase and maintain insurance and bonds.

(h) Borrow, accept, or contract for services of personnel, including, but not limited to, employees of a member state.

(i) Hire employees and elect or appoint officers; fix compensation for, define duties of, and grant appropriate authority to such employees and officers to carry out the purposes of the compact; and establish the commission’s personnel policies and programs relating to conflicts of interest, qualifications of personnel, and other related personnel matters.

(j) Accept any and all appropriate donations and grants of money, equipment, supplies, materials, and services, and receive, utilize, and dispose of the same, provided that at all times the commission avoids any appearance of impropriety or conflict of interest.

(k) Lease, purchase, accept appropriate gifts or donations of, or otherwise own, hold, improve, or use, any property, real, personal, or mixed, provided that at all times the commission avoids any appearance of impropriety or conflict of interest.

(l) Sell, convey, mortgage, pledge, lease, exchange, abandon, or otherwise dispose of any property, real, personal, or mixed.

(m) Establish a budget and make expenditures.

(n) Borrow money.

(o) Appoint committees, including standing committees consisting of commission members, state regulators, state legislators or their representatives, and consumer representatives, and such other interested persons as may be designated in the compact and bylaws.

(p) Provide information to, receive information from, and cooperate with law enforcement agencies.

(q) Establish and elect an executive committee.

(r) Perform any other function that may be necessary or appropriate to achieve the purposes of the compact and is consistent with the state regulation of professional counseling licensure and practice.

(5) THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE.

(a) The executive committee may act on behalf of the commission according to the terms of the compact and shall consist of up to 11 members, as follows:

1. Seven voting members who are elected by the commission from the current membership of the commission.

2. Up to four ex officio, nonvoting members from four recognized national professional counselor organizations. The ex officio members shall be selected by their respective organizations.

(b) The commission may remove any member of the executive committee as provided in its bylaws.

(c) The executive committee shall meet at least annually.

(d) The executive committee shall do all of the following:

1. Make recommendations to the commission for any changes to the rules, bylaws, or compact legislation.

2. Ensure compact administration services are appropriately provided, contractually or otherwise.

3. Prepare and recommend the budget.

4. Maintain financial records on behalf of the commission.

5. Monitor compact compliance of member states and provide compliance reports to the commission.

6. Establish additional committees as necessary.

7. Perform any other duties provided for in the rules or bylaws.

(6) FINANCING OF THE COMMISSION.

(a) The commission shall pay, or provide for the payment of, the reasonable expenses of its establishment, organization, and ongoing activities.

(b) The commission may accept any appropriate revenue sources, donations, or grants of money, equipment, supplies, materials, or services.

(c) The commission may not incur obligations of any kind before securing the funds adequate to meet the same; nor may the commission pledge the credit of any of the member states, except by and with the authority of the member state.

(d) The commission shall keep accurate accounts of all receipts and disbursements. The receipts and disbursements of the commission are subject to the audit and accounting procedures established under its bylaws. However, all receipts and disbursements of funds handled by the commission must be audited annually by a certified or licensed public accountant, and the report of the audit must be included in and become part of the annual report of the commission.

(7) QUALIFIED IMMUNITY, DEFENSE, AND INDEMNIFICATION.

(a) The members, officers, executive director, employees, and representatives of the commission are immune from suit and liability, either personally or in their official capacity, for any claim for damage to or loss of property or personal injury or other civil liability caused by or arising out of any actual or alleged act, error, or omission that occurred, or that the person against whom the claim is made had a reasonable basis for believing occurred, within the scope of commission employment, duties, or responsibilities. This paragraph may not be construed to protect any such person from suit or liability for any damage, loss, injury, or liability caused by the intentional or willful or wanton misconduct of that person.

(b) The commission shall defend any member, officer, executive director, employee, or representative of the commission in any civil action seeking to impose liability arising out of any actual or alleged act, error, or omission that occurred, or that the person against whom the claim is made had a reasonable basis for believing occurred, within the scope of commission employment, duties, or responsibilities, provided that the actual or alleged act, error, or omission did not result from that person’s intentional or willful or wanton misconduct. This paragraph may not be construed to prohibit that person from retaining his or her own counsel.

(c) The commission shall indemnify and hold harmless any member, officer, executive director, employee, or representative of the commission for the amount of any settlement or judgment obtained against that person arising out of any actual or alleged act, error, or omission that occurred, or that such person had a reasonable basis for believing occurred, within the scope of commission employment, duties, or responsibilities, provided that the actual or alleged act, error, or omission did not result from the intentional or willful or wanton misconduct of that person.

ARTICLE X

DATA SYSTEM

(1) The commission shall provide for the development, operation, and maintenance of a coordinated database and reporting system containing licensure, adverse action, and investigative information on all licensed professional counselors in member states.

(2) Notwithstanding any other provision of state law to the contrary, a member state shall submit a uniform data set to the data system on all licensees to whom the compact is applicable, as required by the rules of the commission, including all of the following:

(a) Identifying information.

(b) Licensure data.

(c) Adverse actions against a license or privilege to practice.

(d) Nonconfidential information related to alternative program participation.

(e) Any denial of application for licensure and the reason for such denial.

(f) Current significant investigative information.

(g) Other information that may facilitate the administration of the compact, as determined by the rules of the commission.

(3) Investigative information pertaining to a licensee in any member state may be made available only to other member states.

(4) The commission shall promptly notify all member states of any adverse action taken against a licensee or an individual applying for a license. Adverse action information pertaining to a licensee in any member state must be made available to any other member state.

(5) Member states reporting information to the data system may designate information that may not be shared with the public without the express permission of the reporting state.

(6) Any information submitted to the data system which is subsequently required to be expunged by the laws of the member state reporting the information must be removed from the data system.

ARTICLE XI

RULEMAKING

(1) The commission shall adopt reasonable rules to effectively and efficiently achieve the purposes of the compact. If, however, the commission exercises its rulemaking authority in a manner that is beyond the scope of the purposes of the compact, or the powers granted hereunder, then such an action by the commission is invalid and has no force or effect.

(2) The commission shall exercise its rulemaking powers pursuant to the criteria set forth in this article and the rules adopted thereunder. Rules and amendments become binding as of the date specified in each rule or amendment.

(3) If a majority of the legislatures of the member states rejects a rule by enactment of a statute or resolution in the same manner used to adopt the compact within 4 years after the date of adoption of the rule, such rule does not have further force and effect in any member state.

(4) Rules or amendments to the rules must be adopted at a regular or special meeting of the commission.

(5) Before adoption of a final rule by the commission, and at least 30 days in advance of the meeting at which the rule will be considered and voted upon, the commission shall file a notice of proposed rulemaking:

(a) On the website of the commission or other publicly accessible platform; and

(b) On the website of each member state’s professional counseling licensing board or other publicly accessible platform or in the publication in which each state would otherwise publish proposed rules.

(6) The notice of proposed rulemaking must include:

(a) The proposed time, date, and location of the meeting in which the rule will be considered and voted upon;

(b) The text of the proposed rule or amendment and the reason for the proposed rule;

(c) A request for comments on the proposed rule from any interested person; and

(d) The manner in which interested persons may submit notice to the commission of their intention to attend the public hearing and any written comments.

(7) Before adoption of a proposed rule, the commission must allow persons to submit written data, facts, opinions, and arguments, which must be made available to the public.

(8) The commission shall grant an opportunity for a public hearing before it adopts a rule or an amendment if a hearing is requested by:

(a) At least 25 persons who submit comments independently of each other;

(b) A state or federal governmental subdivision or agency; or

(c) An association that has at least 25 members.

(9) If a hearing is held on the proposed rule or amendment, the commission must publish the place, time, and date of the scheduled public hearing. If the hearing is held through electronic means, the commission must publish the mechanism for access to the electronic hearing.

(a) All persons wishing to be heard at the hearing must notify the executive director of the commission or other designated member in writing of their desire to appear and testify at the hearing at least 5 business days before the scheduled date of the hearing.

(b) Hearings must be conducted in a manner providing each person who wishes to comment a fair and reasonable opportunity to comment orally or in writing.

(c) All hearings must be recorded. A copy of the recording must be made available on request.

(d) This section may not be construed to require a separate hearing on each rule. Rules may be grouped at hearings required by this section for the convenience of the commission.

(10) If the commission does not receive a written notice of intent to attend the public hearing by interested parties, the commission may proceed with adoption of the proposed rule without a public hearing.

(11) Following the scheduled hearing date, or by the close of business on the scheduled hearing date if the hearing was not held, the commission shall consider all written and oral comments received.

(12) The commission, by majority vote of all members, shall take final action on the proposed rule and shall determine the effective date of the rule based on the rulemaking record and the full text of the rule.

(13) Upon determination that an emergency exists, the commission may consider and adopt an emergency rule without prior notice, opportunity for comment, or hearing, provided that the usual rulemaking procedures provided in the compact and in this section are retroactively applied to the rule as soon as reasonably possible, but no later than 90 days after the effective date of the rule. For purposes of this subsection, an emergency rule is one that must be adopted immediately in order to:

(a) Meet an imminent threat to public health, safety, or welfare;

(b) Prevent a loss of commission or member state funds;

(c) Meet a deadline for the adoption of an administrative rule established by federal law or rule; or

(d) Protect public health and safety.

(14) The commission or an authorized committee of the commission may direct revisions to a previously adopted rule or amendment for purposes of correcting typographical errors, errors in format, errors in consistency, or grammatical errors. Public notice of any revision must be posted on the website of the commission. Revisions are subject to challenge by any person for a period of 30 days after posting. A revision may be challenged only on grounds that the revision results in a material change to a rule. A challenge must be made in writing and delivered to the chair of the commission before the end of the notice period. If a challenge is not made, the revision takes effect without further action. If a revision is challenged, the revision may not take effect without the approval of the commission.

ARTICLE XII

OVERSIGHT; DEFAULT, TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE,
AND TERMINATION; DISPUTE RESOLUTION;
AND ENFORCEMENT

(1) OVERSIGHT.

(a) The executive, legislative, and judicial branches of state government in each member state shall enforce the compact and take all actions necessary and appropriate to effectuate the compact’s purposes and intent. The compact and the rules adopted thereunder have standing as statutory law.

(b) All courts shall take judicial notice of the compact and the rules in any judicial or administrative proceeding in a member state pertaining to the subject matter of the compact which may affect the powers, responsibilities, or actions of the commission.

(c) The commission is entitled to receive service of process in any judicial or administrative proceeding specified in paragraph (b) and has standing to intervene in such a proceeding for all purposes. Failure to provide service of process to the commission renders a judgment or an order void as to the commission, the compact, or adopted rules.

(2) DEFAULT, TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE, AND TERMINATION.

(a) If the commission determines that a member state has defaulted in the performance of its obligations or responsibilities under the compact or adopted rules, the commission must:

1. Provide written notice to the defaulting state and other member states of the nature of the default, the proposed means of curing the default, and any other action to be taken by the commission; and

2. Provide remedial training and specific technical assistance regarding the default.

(b) If a state in default fails to cure the default, the defaulting state may be terminated from the compact upon an affirmative vote of a majority of the member states, and all rights, privileges, and benefits conferred by the compact are terminated on the effective date of termination. A cure of the default does not relieve the offending state of obligations or liabilities incurred during the period of default.

(c) Termination of membership in the compact may be imposed only after all other means of securing compliance have been exhausted. The commission shall submit a notice of intent to suspend or terminate a defaulting member state to that state’s governor, to the majority and minority leaders of that state’s legislature, and to each member state.

(d) A member state that has been terminated is responsible for all assessments, obligations, and liabilities incurred through the effective date of termination, including obligations that extend beyond the effective date of termination.

(e) The commission may not bear any costs related to a member state that is found to be in default or that has been terminated from the compact, unless agreed upon in writing between the commission and the defaulting member state.

(f) The defaulting member state may appeal the action of the commission by petitioning the United States District Court for the District of Columbia or the federal district where the commission has its principal offices. The prevailing party must be awarded all costs of such litigation, including reasonable attorney fees.

(3) DISPUTE RESOLUTION.

(a) Upon request by a member state, the commission shall attempt to resolve disputes related to the compact which arise among member states and between member and nonmember states.

(b) The commission shall adopt rules providing for both mediation and binding dispute resolution for disputes as appropriate.

(4) ENFORCEMENT.

(a) The commission, in the reasonable exercise of its discretion, shall enforce the provisions and rules of the compact.

(b) By majority vote, the commission may initiate legal action in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia or the federal district where the commission has its principal offices against a member state in default to enforce compliance with the compact and its adopted rules and bylaws. The relief sought may include both injunctive relief and damages. If judicial enforcement is necessary, the prevailing party must be awarded all costs of such litigation, including reasonable attorney fees.

(c) The remedies under this article are not the exclusive remedies to the commission. The commission may pursue any other remedies available under federal or state law.

ARTICLE XIII

DATE OF IMPLEMENTATION OF THE
COUNSELING COMPACT COMMISSION AND
ASSOCIATED RULES, WITHDRAWAL, AND AMENDMENT

(1) The compact becomes effective on the date on which the compact is enacted into law in the 10th member state. The provisions that become effective at that time are limited to the powers granted to the commission relating to assembly and the adoption of rules. Thereafter, the commission shall meet and exercise rulemaking powers necessary for implementation and administration of the compact.

(2) Any state that joins the compact subsequent to the commission’s initial adoption of the rules is subject to the rules as they exist on the date on which the compact becomes law in that state. Any rule that has been previously adopted by the commission has the full force and effect of law on the day the compact becomes law in that state.

(3) Any member state may withdraw from the compact by enacting a statute repealing the compact.

(a) A member state’s withdrawal does not take effect until 6 months after enactment of the repealing statute.

(b) Withdrawal does not affect the continuing requirement of the withdrawing state’s professional counseling licensing board to comply with the investigative and adverse action reporting requirements of the compact before the effective date of withdrawal.

(4) The compact may not be construed to invalidate or prevent any professional counseling licensure agreement or other cooperative arrangement between a member state and a nonmember state which does not conflict with the compact.

(5) The compact may be amended by the member states. An amendment to the compact is not effective and binding upon any member state until it is enacted into the laws of all member states.

ARTICLE XIV

BINDING EFFECT OF COMPACT AND OTHER LAWS

(1) A licensee providing professional counseling services in a remote state under the privilege to practice shall adhere to the laws and regulations, including scope of practice, of the remote state.

(2) The compact does not prevent the enforcement of any other law of a member state which is not inconsistent with the compact.

(3) Any laws in a member state which conflict with the compact are superseded to the extent of the conflict.

(4) Any lawful actions of the commission, including all rules and bylaws properly adopted by the commission, are binding on the member states.

(5) All permissible agreements between the commission and the member states are binding in accordance with their terms.

(6) If any provision of the compact exceeds the constitutional limits imposed on the legislature of any member state, the provision shall be ineffective to the extent of the conflict with the constitutional provision in question in that member state.

ARTICLE XV

CONSTRUCTION AND SEVERABILITY

The compact must be liberally construed so as to effectuate the purposes thereof. The provisions of the compact are severable, and if any phrase, clause, sentence, or provision of the compact is declared to be contrary to the constitution of any member state or of the United States or the applicability thereof to any government, agency, person, or circumstance is held invalid, the validity of the remainder of the compact and the applicability thereof to any government, agency, person, or circumstance is not affected thereby. If the compact is held contrary to the constitution of any member state, the compact remains in full force and effect as to the remaining member states and in full force and effect as to the member state affected as to all severable matters.

History.s. 1, ch. 2022-63.
491.018 Professional Counselors Licensure Compact; public records and meetings exemptions.
(1) A counselor’s personal identifying information, other than the counselor’s name, licensure status, or licensure number, obtained from the data system, as described in Article X of s. 491.017, and held by the department or the Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling is exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution unless the state that originally reported the information to the data system authorizes the disclosure of such information by law. If disclosure is so authorized, information may be disclosed only to the extent authorized by law by the reporting state.
(2)(a) A meeting or a portion of a meeting of the Counseling Compact Commission, established in Article IX of s. 491.017, or the executive committee or other committees of the commission, at which matters specifically exempted from disclosure by federal or state statute are discussed is exempt from s. 286.011 and s. 24(b), Art. I of the State Constitution.
(b) Recordings, minutes, and records generated during an exempt meeting are exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution.
(3) This section is subject to the Open Government Sunset Review Act in accordance with s. 119.15 and shall stand repealed on October 2, 2027, unless reviewed and saved from repeal through reenactment by the Legislature.
History.s. 1, ch. 2022-64.