Friday, February 24, 2012

Transcript from Licensing Board Meeting in Jan 2012

I promised it a while back, but have just now gotten around to typing up the audio file from my appeal to the licensing standards committee of the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists in January.

I spent a good part of this afternoon trying to decipher the letter I was sent detailing what I have to resubmit and how many hours I have yet to accumulate.  I had in my mind that the board had essentially said they would accept half of the hours that they had originally declined from my non-profit agency job.  If that was the case, by my reckoning, I would only have to finish 514 hours, which, by my estimate, I would finish by March!  Woo hoo!  


Then I sat down and transcribed the audio file of the actual recording of the meeting and that is NOT what was decided by the committee.  Instead of counting all the hours I'd accumulated from September 2011 through Dec 2011 and adding them to HALF of the hours they'd denied.... the actual ruling was that from Jan 13th on, I would have to get ANOTHER 1000 hours... 500 of which have to be direct clinical hours and 250 of those have to be hours to couples and families. 

The practical difference between my recollection of the event and the actual recording of what happens amounts to about 3 months or more of my life before I can upgrade my license.  *sigh*  Instead of being able to finish and upgrade in March, I will be lucky to finish by the end of May or June.

Just yesterday, I learned that another friend from the MFT program at ACU found herself in the same pickle with the board.  They denied her 2000 hours (presumably half of those are direct clinical hours and the rest are paperwork and such).  Learning about her situation incensed me again about the whole situation. 

They board has blatantly admitted that the rule about submitting paperwork for additional sites was unclear, as evidenced by the fact that THEY HAVE CLARIFIED THE RULE and changed the form to include a HUGE paragraph in BOLD print explaining it.  And yet, if a licensee doesn't submit the correct form, it is somehow the licensee's fault and apparently, we deserve to be punished.  The board doesn't say that the hours accumulated that are not board-approved are somehow invalid.  In fact, by accepting a portion of my 'uncontracted' hours, they are essentially admitting that they are perfectly valid and that it is within the purview of the board to approve and accept them if they were so inclined.  Instead, the board feels that it must force the licensee to admit that they 'had a lack of clarity about the rules.'  

Anyhow, here is a copy of the transcript in .PDF form if you want to download it.  I obtained it using the open records law and received a CD with the entire 1.5 hour session on it, but only transcribed the portion pertaining to my appeal. : CLICK HERE

For others who would rather just read it here, scroll on.
Transcript from my portion of the Licensing Standards Committee meeting on 1-13-12.
Carol Miller, Executive Officer from the Licensing office, Sandra DeSobe presiding.  Beverly Womack, Sean Stokes, George Francis attending.

(about 10:32 from the start of the recording)
Sandra: Next we will hear from Jeff Emery.  And there is a little more information available here…

Carol: There is.  We have received three emails of support for approval of Mr. Emery’s appeal.  (distributes copies of the email to committee members)

Jeff: I also printed some… I wanted to make sure they had some… if you need extras…There are several that weren’t emailed, but were handed to me…

(sounds of papers being handed out and looked over)

George: If you don’t mind, I’ll take a copy of those, please.

Jeff: Sure.

George: Thank you, sir.

Jeff: Anybody else?

(long pause while committee members ostensibly read over the support letters)

Sandra: Are there any questions from committee members for Mr. Emery?

(pause, with no questions)

Carol: Okay, I just wanted to be sure everyone had time to read.  Um… Mr. Emery is an LMFT-Associate.  He gained LMFT-A status on 9-17 of 2009.  He submitted an application for LMFT upgrade to licensure which was received by the board office on 9-20-11.  But the application was denied because Mr. Emery did not meet minimum requirements for supervised experience under a board-approved plan.  Mr. Emery had previously been approved to begin supervision at Texas Family Institute with John McLen on 9-17-09 for part-time work.  Mr. Emery has credit for supervision and supervised experience at this location for the time period submitted.  Um.. and for a specified number of hours.  According to the Licensed Supervision Experience Verification Form submitted with the application for upgrade, Mr. Emery also, apparently practiced with the same supervisor at New Horizons Ranch and Center with a start date of 12-1 of 09.  And that was for the number of hours that were there on the form… um… these hours at New Horizons Ranch and Center were denied by staff.  Mr. Emery says in his appeal letter that he had, quote “missed a step two years ago and all of the hours at the agency are being denied” unquote, and requests that you count the hours at New Horizons Ranch and Center towards fulfilling the requirements for licensure as an LMFT.  He has submitted new Supervisory Agreement Forms to work at both locations with a board approved start date of 9-17-11 for New Horizons and 10-16-11 for Texas Family Institute.  He listed the Texas Administrative code for requirements related to .. um.. ah.. submission of… um… Supervisory (indistinct word ) to the board… at 801402(?) and 801202.  And that is the information.

Sandra: …To clarify, Mr. Emery, You filed a supervisory agreement form with your first supervisor…

Jeff: With my only supervisor, yes, ma’am.

Sandra: So he supervised your work at both sites.

Jeff: Yes.  The step that was missed was when I started a month later at New Horizons, um, they didn’t have an LMFT supervisor there and I asked John (Rusty), if he would agree to do both and he said that was fine.  And because it was with the same supervisor, it didn’t click that I needed to do a new Supervisory Agreement.  But both locations were aware that the hours I was getting at New Horizons were being supervised by Rusty.  They gave me time off for professional development so I could attend supervision. 

Sandra: And are you still working there?

Jeff: Yes, Ma’am.  I am still currently employed there. 

George: And that was my question, Mr. Emery.  So, you knew to file for the Supervisory… for the first position…

Jeff: Yes, sir.

George: … But not for the second one?

Jeff: Well, um, when I filed for the upgrade, and I was filling out the paperwork, in the upgrade packet, it has the verification of supervisory experience where you list every location that you have provided services at.  And I did, because that is where I knew I’d provided services at two locations.  But on the original Supervisory Agreement Form, there is a spot for the licensee, where you’ll be providing services and the supervisor.  And so there wasn’t anything intuitive there that said, “hey, if you’re going to have it at another location…” to fill out another one for the SAME supervisor. And that…

George: For another location or for another position, because this was another position, correct? 

Jeff: Yeah.  Um.. ah… That was the step that I missed … that because I was utilizing the same supervisor, I didn’t understand that I needed a new Supervisory Agreement.  I didn’t realize that it was per location…

George: So you thought that it was tied to supervisor and not to job?  Or to job AND supervisor?

Jeff: Well, it seemed to be pretty conclusive that if there was going to be a new supervisor, that I would need a new supervisory agreement.  And I did have friends in my cohort that were getting hours at different locations where a supervisor was provided, so if there is a new supervisor, it would make sense that you would need a new supervisory agreement.  But intuitively, because I was using the same supervisor, it didn’t click that I would need a new supervisory agreement. 

George: Ah, thank you.

(long pause)

Sandra: Any other questions for Mr. Emery?

Womack: Did you file for a new supervisory agreement in a different location now?

Jeff: Yes!  Yeah, as soon as I discovered from the board that that was the step that I missed, they recommended that I go ahead and extend my LMFT-A, which I did.  I filed it as soon as possible for that, and managed to get all the forms signed to get that sent in.  Which has allowed me to continue practicing at both locations and gain hours and I counted up through my billing at both locations that I’ve garnered almost another 200 hours since then.  But I have continued, as recommended by the staff. 

Sandra: Okay, so how many hours are you gonna be short? Of the face to face time?

Jeff:  Lacking all of the New Horizons hours?

Sandra: Yes.

Jeff: 2410.

Sandra: That’s not face to face time…

Jeff: I’m sorry… the face to face time… um…

Sandra: Counting the hours you have accumulated since September… when you discovered this… problem.  That would give you what you need?  If you accumulated about 700 more hours?  Is that correct?

Carol: What is currently approved is 730 practice hours, 365 of which were direct clinical and of those 156 were to couples and families.  So there ….

Sandra: But that was before… September?

Carol: Correct.

Sandra: So… we’ve got that.  So far. 
Carol: So, of 3000, he has 730.  Of the 1500 that have to be direct clinical he has 365.  And of the 750 that have to be to couples and families, he has 156. 

Sandra: Now, can you give us that run down of hours that you’ve completed since September?  How many total hours have you accumulated since September?  Clock hours?

Jeff: Um… as of September.. face to face clock hours?

Sandra: Not Face to face… total.

Jeff: Um… I only kept track of the face to face hours.

Sandra: Okay, so how many face to face hours have you accumulated since September? 

Jeff: Um… Through my December billing, not counting January, 199 face to face hours. 

Sandra: And how many of those are for couples and families?

Jeff: Well, I’d have to … I … didn’t delineate those when I was counting them up. 

Sandra: (long pause while she does math on a scratch paper)  So you are about 936 just to pick a number… ah… hours short of what you need to get your license.  (pause) But we don’t know that for sure because we don’t know how many are client, couple and family hours. 

Jeff: Ah… the work that I do at New Horizons… I provide prevention counseling for at risk families.  Part of our program is that we have to meet with primary caregivers as well as the target youth, so a lot of the hours I get at New Horizons are, ah… count as family hours.

Sandra: Yes.  I can see that.  Okay. 

Beverly: And you are a full time employee there now, yes?

Jeff: Yes.

Sandra: And about how many clients are you seeing a week? 

Jeff: I generally carry a caseload of 15-20 clients a month at New Horizons…

Sandra: A month?  Or a week?

Jeff: Oh, well, on my caseload, it rotates out.  On a weekly basis, I generally meet with about 14-15 hours. 

Sandra: So you’re not really going to have any trouble at all accumulating the ah… non face to face hours. 

Jeff: As far as paperwork and …

Sandra: Right.

Jeff: That’s not a problem at all.

Sandra: No one really has trouble accumulating that!  Well, Mr. Emery.  This may be your lucky day.  Not as lucky as you think, but I’m going to make a recommendation that because we have had this problem and this precedent, the board has taken action to correct this so it will not be a problem in the future, that we will accept part of those hours that were done without the contract.  And, so, committee… He’s about a third of the way there.  If we accept another third from the uncontracted and let him get one more third accumulated under supervision… Essentially cut his mistake in half…

George: Is that a motion?

Beverly: But can we do that?  Because everyone is going to be saying that we’ve got to waiver the plan. 

Sean: Well, we *have*.

Carol: We … have inconsistently … waived or not waived

Jeff: Um… before a motion is made I just wanted to offer some information, or at least a perspective…

Sandra:  Yeah.   (clears throat) Dig yourself a grave here….

Jeff: Well, I hope I won’t be digging a grave… necessarily.  I appreciate the policies and procedures that are in place and I understand that this is not a … I’ve very diligently tried not to strike a tone that I’m deserving in some way because I know that I missed a step on this and that any action taken by the board is an action of grace.  And I do appreciate all the consideration you’ve given it.  However, I’ve talked to several of my colleagues and I’ve heard that this is something that has come up in the past… one of my cohort actually told me that she had the same problem when she applied, but in her case it was a secondary site and she said it was about 100 hours and she said “I was upset about it and I cried about it and then I just earned the hours back again.”  But in this case, it represents about two years of accumulating hours.  In that time, in addition to the work that I’ve done with New Horizons, a non-profit agency, and TFI, doing private counseling there, I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of the community and utilize my talents and services in ways that have benefited the community.  I serve on several coalitions… one of them provides training for child care providers so that they can continue to provide that service to our community.  Another one works with Teen Drug prevention and we offer a support group for teens who are involved in drug or alcohol abuse.  And I understand that any motion that’s made or decision that is made that extends the time that I will remain an associate in some was impacts not only my professional development but also the ability to further any opportunities to help the community.  So… I can see this as a win-win, since it is in the purview of the committee to accept all the hours or some portion of them, obviously it would be personally beneficial to me but I think also, in addition to professionally, I think it would be good for our community.  And since the board has already taken action to make sure that it doesn’t happen for future folks, ….

George: Mr. Emery, what were you looking for?

Jeff: Um… as I mentioned , I was looking for some grace. 

George: I’m just asking, what are you looking for from the board?

Jeff: Best case scenario?  Since it was something that was on the last agenda and it has been handled before, I was hoping that it would be something like, “Hey, we’ve already fixed it.  We’re sorry that it has caused some confusion for you….”  Next level down, I was looking for: “We’ll take the hours you’ve accumulated over the past three months and say that that is the number of hours you needed to get, so we’ll call it even since you have…. like I said, I’ve tried to be compliant with everything the board staff have asked me to do as far as extending things and continuing to work on those hours…. BUT, I was prepared that if there was a need to go ahead and continue to get some hours, that that is something I would go ahead and have to do.  Because I love what I do.  I’m intending to pursue this and this is what I want to be my career… so… whatever it takes in order to make it happen is what I’m going to do.  In order, that was kind of my preference of how I’d like to see this happen. 

Sandra: I’m suggesting that we split the difference.  And because we are acknowledging that we had some problems with a lack of clarity about our form, we would like for you to acknowledge that you had a lack of clarity about the rules.  And part of our job here, in protecting the public is making sure our… our therapists are competent.  And one of the ways we evaluate that is whether or not they can follow the rules … and… (crackling of a food wrapper near the mic) .  I am chairing this committee, so can someone make that motion?

George: I make the motion that we split the difference and go for one third of the hours that still need to be accumulated by Mr. Emery.

Sandra: So, what would mean is that you would still have 500 hours.  Face to face hours to show to the committee.  Do I have a second?

Sean: I second.

Sandra: Any discussion?  Yes, George?

George: Is that consistent with our … inconsistencies previously?  (laughter)

Carol: It has been an evolving process.  In the beginning, all were denied, that have done this.  But then this is consistent in that it is partial credit.  And that is consistent …

Sandra: That is a precedent that this committee set in July of last year.  So… we’re kind of stuck with that right now.

George: I’m comfortable with it.

Sandra: Okay.  All in favor?

George, Sean and Beverly: Aye.

Sandra: So… keep practicing. (more crackling from food wrappings obscure the sound)

Jeff: So, 500 beyond the three months I’ve already done… the 200 I’ve already gathered?

Sandra: Starting from now.

Jeff: Starting from now… about 500.  And when it gets to that point as far as…. do I just submit for upgrade again?  As I’ve done, or…

Carol: Your application, um…yeah, I don’t think that it is going to be realistic for you… the application will expire 9/20 of 2012.  So I don’t think it is going to be realistic to get those hours…

Jeff: I think it is.

Sandra: Yep.  He’s gotten 200 in the last three months.

Carol: Yeah.  Oh.  So.  I’ll send you a letter outlining the details, okay?

Jeff: Thank you very much.

(ending at about 30:12 from the beginning of the recording