ACTION ALERT! Feb. 23, 2017

Attention Providers!

Your license to practice is currently under attack!

The Iowa Mental Health Counselors Association (IMHCA) has issued a call to action in opposition of HSB 138, a House Study Bill proposed by Governor Branstad that would take away a protection for Iowans as well as put Iowa last in the nation by removing licensure for the profession and eliminating the Board of Behavioral Sciences and the Board of Social Work.

Below are several talking points for you to refer back on as you join IMHCA in reaching out to lawmakers and expressing your concerns for HSB 138.

  • Mental Health Counselors are licensed, not registered, in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia.  This provides us with the right to practice.  One of the many challenges that professionals would face under this bill is the ability to move from this state to another without a license, and still be allowed to practice.  Removing licensure would undoubtedly prevent the providers impacted by this bill from getting licensed in other states.
  • Insurance companies and employers have requirements that mental health professionals are licensed.  Tricare and the VA require Mental Health Counselors to be licensed at the highest level in their state.  Getting rid of licensure will reduce the number of practitioners eligible to serve our veterans and other Iowans.
  • Iowa already suffers from a shortage of mental health professionals.  It is imperative that we continue to ensure access to qualified mental health professionals, including Licensed Mental Health Counselors, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, and Licensed Master’s and Independent Social Workers.
  • Regulatory boards, such as the Board of Behavioral Science and Board of Social Work, have the primary goal of ensuring protection of the public through setting and enforcing rules related to education, ongoing training, and upholding ethical standards.  Numerous complaints are made annually regarding concerns from vulnerable Iowans about potential ethical violations ranging from professionals breaking trust by betraying confidentiality, taking advantage of someone financially, lying about claims, to having sexual relationships with clients.  Licensure boards provide accountability for the profession as well as protection by ensuring those who commit violations are not able to practice or get additional training to demonstrate improvement.

IMHCA is urging you to contact Governor Branstad, Lt. Governor Reynolds, House leaders and your local legislators and ask them to carefully consider the ramifications of this study bill.  Demand that they continue to keep Mental Health Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Social Workers licensed under their respective boards.

Go to: if you are unsure who is serving your legislative interests on the hill. Contact information may be found on each legislator’s office site. To contact the Governor’s office, please use the following information:

1007 East Grand Ave.
Des Moines, Iowa 50319

Phone: 515-281-5211

For more information on how you can get involved in IMHCA’s legislative efforts, click on ‘Events’, or send an email to and let us know you would like to help!


Kacey M. Peterson, MS, LMHC

IMHCA President-Elect


Help stop HSB 138 before it is too late!

Download a word document with this information: Call to Action HSB 138


UPDATE: 2-24-17

There has been a flurry of activity related to the proposal to eliminate licensure for social workers, mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists. This move calls into question insurance and Medicaid reimbursement issues that could reduce access to mental health services, puts the professions at risk of having no oversight or restrictions on who can practice and is a shortsighted effort to reduce the size of government. The main reason being used for the somewhat eclectic compilation of boards that would be eliminated is that these boards are not financially self-sustaining. Thus, it wasn’t about the reasons for the licensure but about the cost.

At this point, our understanding is that HSB 138 is not going to move as written. The emails and phone calls by those impacted have had an impact. However, the bill is scheduled for a subcommittee meeting on Monday at 2:00 p.m. It is our understanding, again, that the bill will not move forward in its current form. Should you wish to attend and either listen or speak, you are certainly welcome to do that. Our lobbyist, Emily Piper, is in close contact with key legislators about this legislation and will also be communicating our opposition.

If you have specific questions about what is happening on the bill, please refer those to

Your voice is being heard — thank you for standing up for our profession!
Donald Gilbert MS, PhD, LMHC, BCPC
IMHCA President
225 NW School St, Ankeny, IA 50023
fx 515-225-4016

NOTE: Please do not contact our lobbyist, Emily Piper about this bill at this point. She has been swamped and is working very hard on our behalf. Please contact you representatives, and send questions or comments about HSB138 to