Let the sun set on these boards of helping professions
By Mary Lou Serafine
Marriage and family therapists, social workers, counselors and professional psychologists will be lighting up phones at the Capitol in coming days as they try to save their regulatory boards from extinction as a result of each one failing its sunset review.
Tellingly, not a single citizen will be calling his legislator crying, “We want higher prices and fewer choices! Please keep these boards!”
The Legislature should let these boards expire. We don’t need them.
The helping professions — clinical social work, psychology, counseling and therapy, no matter what the name — all work in one way: through ideas, opinions and advice about the mind and life itself, transmitted through speech.
What is the real purpose of these boards in psychology, social work, counseling, and marriage and family therapy? To divide up the market for helping services among a few cartels that drive their competitors out of business.
Regulation is the very cause of the claimed shortage of mental health services in Texas.
In reality, thousands of capable people — inside and outside conventional thinking about “therapy” — are available, but they are operating with one hand tied behind their back and are in fear of being reported, investigated, prosecuted, and destroyed.
People should have the freedom to choose unlicensed help, including from life coaches, hypnotherapists, spiritual healers, business coaches, athletes, masters-degreed psychologists (currently prohibited unless “supervised”), curanderas, positive thinking coaches, or internet or teletherapy programs.
Texas legislators should think about what will happen if these four boards are eliminated.
The answer is, nothing bad.
Private associations such as the Texas Psychological Association will run their own certification program. So will the other professions. Certificate holders will advertise themselves as such, and the public will enjoy more health care freedom and will seek more services at market rates.
Schools, hospitals, prisons, insurance companies and state programs can choose to fund only certificate holders.
Texas has the chance to lead the nation in this area of freedom. These boards should sunset.