Mental Health Counselors & Social Workers: If You’re Applying for Your Professional License, Read This First!
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
The process of obtaining a mental health counselor or social worker professional license can be challenging and time-consuming. When seeking initial licensure or applying for a license in another state, you should be aware of delays in the application process due to the investigation of credentials and past practice, as well as the need to comply with licensing standards.
Examples That Would Delay Your Mental Healthcare License Application:
• Disciplinary or academic actions during postgraduate training (probation, suspension, remediation)
• Action by another state’s regulatory or licensing board
• Action by a different professional licensing board
• Misdemeanor or felony convictions
• Results of the criminal background check (remember, it shows arrests, not necessarily the results of the arrests)
• Civil judgments/malpractice
• Medical, physical, mental, or chemical dependence impairment/condition within the last five years
• Adverse action against your clinical privileges by a hospital, ambulatory surgical center, skilled nursing facility, or other health facility or professional organization.
• Adverse action (e.g., termination for cause) by a former employer
• Action by a specialty board
• Lack of recent active practice
• Action by DEA against your DEA registration number
• Disciplinary action (especially court-martial) by the military
• Applications that require a petition of waiver or variance for a job
Not being 100% truthful about your history and education is the number one reason for denial of an application for a license! Don’t try to hide potentially derogatory information from a state licensing board, if it is required by the question or the instructions that further elaborate on the question. It is much better to come forward with the information and be upfront.
This being said, you do not want to volunteer adverse information that a question does not ask. For example, if a question asks about felony convictions, DO NOT disclose misdemeanor convictions or traffic ticket convictions. If a question asks about convictions, DO NOT disclose arrests for which you were acquitted or were dismissed. If a question asks about medical malpractice lawsuits, DO NOT disclose civil lawsuits that were not related to malpractice.
Tips to Speed up the License Application Process.
There are ways to ease the process of applying for a mental health counselor or social worker license and get your application processed quicker. Before submitting your application, contact the licensing board and request a copy of its current licensing requirements and the average time it takes to process applications.
Tips to ease the process of applying for mental health counselor or social worker licensure:
1. Submit follow-up documents in a timely manner online or mail them to the correct address (as required). If you cannot obtain requested follow-up documentation, provide a separate, detailed explanation (preferably in the form of an affidavit), of why you cannot do so.
2. Keep in mind that any fees you pay have to be processed by the Department vendor. This may take a few days.
3. Identify any variation of names and nicknames.
4. Once you start the process, submit the application within 30 days so that your supplemental documents, including transcripts, will have an application file in which to be filed.
5. Have the correct address on the application for training programs you have attended and the health facilities at which you have worked.
6. Send in necessary back-up documents in a timely manner.
7. Follow up with sources that are sending the Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling your documents.
8. Watch for letters or e-mail from your reviewer. This is how you will be instructed on what additional documents or information may be needed for your application to be complete.
9. If asked for follow-up information from the Board, please read the request carefully to identify exactly what is needed to make your application complete.
10. Answer questions honestly and provide an explanation where appropriate. But do not provide information that is not being requested.
Mental health counselors, social workers, and other medical professionals seeking a license should expect at least a 60-day period from the time they initially submit a completed application and the actual date licensure is granted.
For more information and ways that The Health Law Firm can help in licensure matters, visit our Video Q&A section or visit our website’s Areas of Practice page.
Contact Health Law Attorneys With Experience Handling Licensing Issues.
If you are applying for a mental health counselor, social worker, massage therapy, dental, or health care license, have had a license suspended or revoked, or are facing imminent action against your license, it is imperative that you contact an experienced healthcare attorney to assist you in defending your career. Remember, your license is your livelihood, it is not recommended that you attempt to pursue these matters without the assistance of an attorney.
The Health Law Firm routinely represents mental health counselors, social workers, dentists, nurses, physicians, medical groups, clinics, and other healthcare providers in personal and facility licensing issues.
To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or toll-free (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
“Obtaining a Medical License.” American Medical Association (AMA). Web.
Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling, “Licensing FAQs,” https://floridasmentalhealthprofessions.gov/licensing/
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave. Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.
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