Response to Administrative Rules Review Committee

IMHCA issued the following statements in response to Administrative Rules Review over chapters 31, 32, and 33 of Iowa Administrative Code.

In response to ARC 7293C (

The Iowa Mental Health Counselors Association (IMHCA) is in support of these proposed changes which will ease the process for Licensure by Endorsement. IMHCA is a membership organization which represents 609 mental health counselors across the state. We are in full support of efforts which will help bring additional providers in to serve Iowa clients. Iowa, like many states, is in a mental health provider shortage. In fact, 82 of our 99 counties are designated as Mental Health Provider Shortage Areas by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. There is an obligation to help expand access to mental health care in Iowa, while maintaining appropriate standards for professionals. We believe that these changes to the Administrative Rules will do just that and are in support of these revisions.

In addition to these new changes, we hope that the Iowa Board of Behavioral Sciences sets a routine review schedule to code. IMHCA is also hopeful that the Iowa Board of Behavioral Sciences will consider other Accreditation programs such as the American Psychological Association and the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council. To avoid unnecessary steps in the education review process with NCE, allowing additional practitioners in the state from other accredited institutions with relevant degrees.

The proposed new rules simplify the process of licensure by endorsement by requiring proof of licensure from the jurisdiction where they were most recently licensed (Proposed rule 645–31.8(1)b) and eliminating or consolidating current sections 645–31.8(1)d through g. Previous rule 645–31.8(1)d requires the applicant to send their transcripts directly from their educational institution and/or complete the educational review process by the Center for Credentialing and Education; section 645–31.8(1)e, requires verification of the applicant’s qualifications from their supervisor; section 645–31.8(1)f, requires proof of licensure from every jurisdiction that the applicant has been licensed; and 645–31.8(1)g, requires exam scores sent directly from the testing service.These sections in the current Administrative Code are encompassed by the requirement to meet qualifications for Iowa licensure as a marriage and family therapist or a mental health counselor as outlined in 645–31.2(154D) and the proposed changes streamline this section of administrative code and eliminate unnecessary burdens or steps to licensure for those wanting to obtain licensure by endorsement in Iowa. Many of these requirements are already met by proving their licensure in their current jurisdiction and thus eliminate unnecessary and duplicate steps.

Additionally, the proposed rules ease the process for licensure by endorsement for those who do not meet standards for Iowa licensure under rule 645–31.2(154D) subrules 31.2(4) and 31.2(5) by requiring that the applicant prove that they possess a master’s degree or higher in mental health counseling or marital and family therapy or an equivalent counseling-related field; and that the applicant does not have any past or pending disciplinary action from any state licensing boards related to any mental health counseling or marital and family therapy license currently or previously held by the applicant. These steps drastically ease the process for licensure by endorsement and eliminate the current sections 645–31.8(2)a, which requires that the applicant has been licensed as a mental health counselor or a marital and family therapist in another state for at least five years at the independent level; and sections 645–31.8(2)b, that the applicant has been practicing under the independent license in a clinical mental health or marital and family therapy counseling setting for at least five years. The requirement for five years of independent practice appears arbitrary and we are in support of these proposed changes which more align with proof of education and good standing for all licensing jurisdictions.

We would like clarification on the new rule, “31.8(2) In lieu of meeting the requirements of subrules 31.2(4) and 31.2(5), applicants who meet the qualifications below may instead submit documentation demonstrating how each of the qualifications below is satisfied:” IMHCA wanted to note that previous subrule (4) transcripts and (5) exam scores make more sense for this rule. The new (4) and (5) reference (4) exam scores and (5) supervision records for those seeking full licensure. It would not make sense to give an exception for supervision records for those with their temporary license. The board would need those records to ensure someone could continue the process in Iowa if needed. This required attestation of supervision should not be waived. Because the links in the ARC take you to the old code, we assume that this is why (4) and (5) are listed. We look forward to the response.

IMHCA appreciates the efforts of the Administrative Rules Review Committee and is in support of these efforts to streamline Administrative Code and clarify the process for licensure by endorsement for marriage and family therapists and mental health counselors in Iowa.


Tony Alden of the Board of Behavioral Sciences had a phone call with Ellyn Nitchals-Kellner, Legislative and Public Policy Chair of IMHCA in regards to this comment.

Tony provided clarification that the supervision report for individuals applying for licensure by endorsement as a temporary licensee may, but are not required to, provide the supervision report. Without proof of prior hours of supervision that meet Iowa’s criteria they will have to complete the full requirements under Iowa code to then acquire a full license as a Mental Health Counselor or Marriage and Family Therapist. If an applicant chooses to submit proof of supervision from a prior jurisdiction those hours may count towards their hours in Iowa if it meets criteria here.

There was also discussion of the requirement for official transcripts. Tony expressed the concern that not all states have had similar educational requirements for a license as a Mental Health Counselor/Marriage and Family Therapist, and transcripts verify that they will meet Iowa’s standards. He expressed belief that this is a lesser administrative burden than asking an applicant to track down their state’s code from the time that they were issued a license which shows that they meet educational criteria in Iowa. He acknowledged that for individuals who have had their educational institute close, this creates additional hurdles. There was discussion of allowing unofficial transcripts (sent directly from the applicant rather than the institution) as a potential option to satisfy this requirement.


In response to ARC 7294C (

I am issuing this comment on behalf of the Iowa Mental Health Counselors Association (IMHCA). IMHCA is a membership organization which represents 609 mental health counselors across the state. There are no significant rule changes in this chapter. IMHCA has no concerns with these updates.


In response to ARC 7295C (

I am issuing this comment on behalf of the Iowa Mental Health Counselors Association (IMHCA). IMHCA is a membership organization which represents 609 mental health counselors across the state. IMHCA is hopeful that Iowa Administrative Code will also include the AMHCA code of Ethics in this disciplinary chapter. These ethics are referenced online for free from AMHCA (AMHCA Code of Ethics – American Mental Health Counselors Association). These ethical standards are regularly reviewed (2015, 2020) and are more current and relevant to the licensed mental health counselor as opposed to ACA ethics that are also used for other types of counselors. The AMHCA standards are accompanied by useful supporting documents such as (1) Considerations for supervisors (2) Ethical decision-making model and (3) an addendum for the use of artificial intelligence in counseling practice. There is an FAQ and ongoing analysis of ethical situations. The ethics committee is active and relevant to our growing profession.

Sections removed from Chapter 33 have been included in ARC 7305C – Iowa Administrative Rules which is an updated section for all licenses. The only section that was removed and not replaced is “33.2(6)Use of untruthful or improbable statements in advertisements. Use of untruthful or improbable statements in advertisements includes, but is not limited to, an action by a licensee in making information or intention known to the public which is false, deceptive, misleading or promoted through fraud or misrepresentation.” IMHCA would look for clarification that this is not something that has been reported in a substantial amount of time and is therefore not needed. If this is the case, we have no issue removing it.


Tony Alden of the Board of Behavioral Science responded to this comment with the following message:

I got your comment on the request to add AMHCA code of ethics and the query on did we mean to remove the untruthful advertising rule as it isn’t showing up in the new chapter 13.
Wanted to provide a little clarity on the untruthful advertising component. That section is a duplication of Iowa Code 147.55