Imagine telling your client that, as their trusted therapist, you will not be able to schedule an appointment with them if they: 1) move to another state, even just across the border; 2) go on an extended vacation, or live seasonally in the state where you practice; 3) attend college or school in Maine but return home to another state during breaks; or even if they 4) need medical treatment in another state.
Continuing care is very important in the therapeutic relationship. Current laws in many states prohibit making appointments with people outside the state in which the therapist is located or licensed. This is the very expensive reason I have to hold a social work license in multiple states to provide telemedicine appointments for many of my clients.
Example conversation with a client: “I’m sorry, I can’t help you right now because I’m not licensed in your state. When will you be back in Maine? A few weeks, maybe a month or two? After you return to Maine Are there other therapists you can contact before the state? Oh, you’re right. Currently, all states are facing a shortage of mental health professionals. Maybe when the Social Work Interstate Compact is adopted in Maine and some other states When it passes, we will have access to out-of-state experts who are part of this compact.”
Maine Rep. Lydia Crafts, a social worker herself, is the sponsor of LD 2140, an Act to Establish an Interstate Social Work Licensing Compact, which was sponsored by House Speaker Rachel Co-sponsored by Rachel Talbot Ross and several other representatives from various backgrounds. I hope Maine will pass this legislation and become one of the first states, like Missouri, to join the committee overseeing the compact. An example of a successful covenant can be seen with your driver’s license, which allows you to drive across state lines but still comply with all state-agreed laws and regulations. Maine has professional interstate licensing agreements for psychologists, nurses, physicians, speech-language pathologists, physical therapists, and professional counselors. Now is the time for Maine to join the Interstate Compact on Social Work.
The Council of State Governments secured funding through the U.S. Department of Defense and then worked with the Association of Social Work Councils, the Association of Clinical Social Work, the National Association of Social Workers, and licensed social workers from across the country to develop the current draft License Portability Interstate The language of the contract. All parties want to improve access to services, mobility and portability of licenses. Maine’s bill is consistent with votes in other states.
Passing this legislation this year is important; not only will Maine have a seat on the committee that oversees the compact, but it will also provide our licensees the opportunity to serve more people. New licensees in other states under the agreement can provide services to Maine people in their home state, thereby providing services to out-of-state experts. LD 2140 will help facilitate easy relocation to Maine and keep your social worker license active. LD 2140 is for military social workers, their families, and the clients they serve. Maine must join the Social Work Compact and support continued access to high-quality behavioral health services by social workers for clients from New England and across the country.
Today’s Editorial Cartoon