IV. Clinical Practice Standards
Clinical mental health counselors have a minimum of 3,000 hours of supervised clinical practice post-degree over a period of at least two years. In the process of acquiring the ﬁrst 3,000 hours of client contact in postgraduate clinical experience, AMHCA recommends a ratio of one hour of supervision for every 20 hours of on-site work hours with a combination of individual, triadic and group supervision.
B. Peer Review and Supervision
Clinical mental health counselors maintain a program of peer review, supervision and consultation even after they are independently licensed. It is expected that clinical mental health counselors seek additional supervision or consultation to respond to the needs of individual clients, as difficulties beyond their range of expertise arise. While need is to be determined individually, independently licensed clinical mental health counselors must ensure an optimal level of consultation and supervision to meet client needs.
C. Continuing Education
Clinical mental health counselors at the post-degree and independently licensed level must comply with state regulations, certification and credentialing requirements to obtain and maintain continuing educational requirements related to the practice of clinical mental health counseling. Clinical mental health counselors maintain a repertoire of specialized counseling skills and participate in continuing education to enhance their knowledge of the practice of clinical mental health counseling.
In accordance with state law, AMHCA recommends that in order to acquire, maintain and enhance skills, counselors actively participate in a formal professional development and continuing education program. This formal professional development ordinarily addresses peer review and consultation, continuum of care, best practices and effectiveness research; advocacy; counselor issues and impairment, and AMHCA Code of Ethics. Clinical mental health counselors who are involved in independent clinical practice also receive ongoing training relating to independent practice, accessibility, accurate representation, office procedures, service environment, and reimbusement for services.
D. Legal and Ethical Issues
Clinical mental health counselors who deliver clinical services comply with state statutes and regulations governing the practice of clinical mental health counseling. Clinical mental health counselors adhere to all state laws governing the practice of clinical mental health counseling. In addition, they adhere to all administrative rules, ethical standards, and other requirements of state clinical mental health counseling or other regulatory boards. Counselors obtain competent legal advice concerning compliance with all relevant statutes and regulations. Where state laws lack governing the practice of counseling, counselors strictly adhere to the national and ethical standards for the clinical practice of mental health counseling and obtain competent legal advice concerning compliance with these standards.
Clinical mental health counselors who deliver clinical services comply with the codes of ethics specific to the practice of clinical mental health counseling. The AMHCA Code of Ethics outline behavior which must be adhered to regarding commitment to clients; counselor-client relationship; counselor responsibility and integrity; assessment and diagnosis; recordkeeping, fee arrangements and bartering; consultant and advocate roles; commitment to other professionals; committment to students, supervisees and employee relationships.
Clinical mental health counselors are first responsible to society, second to consumers, third to the profession, and last to themselves. Clinical mental health counselors identify themselves as members of the counseling profession. They adhere to the codes of ethics mandated by state boards regulating counseling and by the clinical organizations in which they hold membership and certification. They also adhere to ethical standards endorsed by state boards regulating counseling, and cooperate fully with the adjudication procedures of ethics committees, peer review teams, and state boards. All clinical mental health counselors willingly participate in a formal review of their clinical work, as needed. They provide clients appropriate information on filing complaints alleging unethical behavior and respond in a timely manner to a client request to review records.
Of particular concern to AMHCA is that clinical mental health counselors who deliver clinical services respond in a professional manner to all who seek their services. Clinical mental health counselors provide services to each client requesting services regardless of lifestyle, origin, race, color, age, handicap, sex, religion, or sexual orientation. They are knowledgeable and sensitive to cultural diversity and the multicultural issues of clients. Counselors have a duty to acquire the knowledge, skills, and resources to assist diverse clients. If, after seeking increased knowledge and supervision, counselors are still unable to meet the needs of a particular client, they do what is necessary to put the client in contact with an appropriate mental health resource.