Mental health counselors fear new state rules

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)– Hundreds of thousands of people in Michigan get mental health treatment from Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC)–but that could all change in the next few months.

“It’s kind of scary to have your job just up in the air,” LPC Kelle Sajdak says. “You don’t know if you’re gonna have it in a couple of weeks or not.”

Sajdak is one of nearly 10,000 LPC’s in Michigan, and a set of rules proposed by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) could take away her ability to work.

“If we can’t diagnose then we can’t do billing to insurance, and that’s how we get paid as LPC’s at least in the private practice,” Sajdak says.

That lost income will also cause office owners like Tamera Lagalo to lose business.

“I’m trying to formulate a Plan A and Plan B, what do we do,” Lagalo says, “what do I do with 260 clients that could be without their mental health provider in less than two months.”

LARA says the changes are necessary to address outdated standards and to bring federal oversight to counselors like Sajdak. The agency tells 6 News counselors will still be able to practice their profession under the new rules.

“The current rules are very outdated and require updates governing the counseling profession to alleviate confusion for counselors,” LARA spokesman Matthew Erikson says. “The updated rules provide greater clarity to licensees and aid in their understanding of the requirements for compliance.”

Sajdak says the new rules could lead to bigger problems.

“With the shortage of psychiatrists already in Michigan, I don’t know what would happen to people if we took away, you know, 10,000 LPC’s,” Sajdak says. “It just would be devastating.”

LARA officials will discuss the new rules during a hearing on October 4th. The counselors plan to be there to fight for their right to practice.

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