Dear Colleagues,
Our national association, American Mental Health Counselors Association, (AMHCA) is looking for input from members in regards to this national legislation. They are hoping to get a sense of the membership's response and then to formulate a position that best represents our opinion. 
They have outlined the essential elements of the legislation as well as the pros and cons of the different options. 
Please take the time to review the attached and send your comments to AMHCA at the email address noted on the press release. 
Thank you, 


Contact: Jim Finley
Modification of TRICARE Independent Practice Standards Advanced
ALEXANDRIA, Va. - On May 15, 2015 the full House approved House Armed Services Committee legislation that included a provision sought by the American Counseling Association (ACA) to modify the TRICARE August 18, 2014 rule for Certified Mental Health Counselors. Under HR. 1735, “The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016” (NDAA), the extension of full independent practitioners status for CMHCs under TRICARE would be temporarily broadened to include more practitioners from many different training programs. This new language is now part of the House version of the NDAA and will ultimately be considered by the Senate. The Senate version, S. 1118, currently does not include the House language, but they are expected to soon consider their own NDAA bill. The comprehensive annual funding bill sets the spending policy and rules for the nation’s armed forces.

ACA sought the change without input from other stakeholders such as AMHCA, NBCC, CACREP, or the MFTs. Consequently, at this time these other stakeholders are unresolved about taking further action on the provision as it merely postpones the full implementation of the TRICARE 2014 rules until 2027, when the 2014 standards would be restored. As policy, it provides much more time for recent and future CMHC graduates from non-CACREP programs to participate independently under TRICARE. However, even with the delay, CMHC training programs will still need to transition quickly to CACREP to ensure graduates can participate in programs operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs and receive professional training funds administered by the Department of Health and Human Services. Nevertheless, HR. 1735 would provide much more time for nonconforming programs to continue operations while the profession continues its adoption of uniform CACREP training standards as called for by the Institute of Medicine in 2011.

Basic Requirements of the August 18th Rule
  1. Hold a master’s degree or doctoral degree in counseling from a mental health counseling program or clinical mental health counseling program accredited by CACREP.
  2. State licensed in mental health counseling at the highest clinical level.
  3. Has passed the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination.
  4. Alternatively, for those that either did not or could not apply during the grandfather period, may participate under the old TRICARE rules as a supervised practitioner.
Proposed Grandfather under HR. 1735
  1. Adds independent status to those licensed for at least five years, and
  2. Expands recognized training programs to include:
    (A) The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC-WASC)
    (B) The Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
    (C) The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
    (D) The New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE)
    (E) The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges
    (F) The WASC Senior College and University Commission (WASC-SCUC)
    (G) The Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
    (H) The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
    (I) The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)
    (J) The Distance Education Accreditation Commission (DEAC)
  3. Beginning in 2027, restores requirements of the August 2014 rule.
Member Comments Requested
AMCHA is interested in learning the views of its members on this new House provision. The change would enable more practitioners seeking independent practice status under TRICARE to avoid taking the NCMHCE exam and enable non-CACREP accredited programs to continue operations years into the future. Conversely, maintaining a wide diversity of training standards would also likely exacerbate ongoing portability and recognition barriers for the profession. In addition, postponing adoption of unified national training standards will keep the profession well behind other independent health professionals working in the VA and DOD and will limit the practice opportunities for yet another wave of non-CACREP grads throughout their careers. AMHCA invites member to submit their comments here on the proposed legislation. Comments will be read by AMCHA Board and Public Policy and Legislation Committee members.

Background Resources
AMHCA Comments on TRICARE Final Rule, August 2014
TRICARE Final Rule August 18, 2014

6 Tips For Establishing A Private Practice

Starting a private practice can be the most exciting, yet most intimidating, step you will take in your career. It helps to have some guidance along the way, and it is critical to get the support you need while making this fabulous leap of faith. Here are a few tips to get you going, and keep you going.

#1: Stop putting it off until you are ‘ready’
Once you decide owning your own private practice is what you want, it’s important to be prepared for taking the leap into private practice. Few of us ever really feel ready, but that’s to be expected.

Those butterflies in your stomach will keep you on your game; they will keep you excited and wide-eyed. Being excited about your work can help you to become incredibly successful.

If you are working for someone else, probably 50 percent to 75 percent of the revenue you generate is left on the table for your employer. You do the math—how much money is it costing you each month that you put off establishing your own private practice?

The golden handcuffs of traditional employment (predictable income, benefits, guaranteed clients) can be very comforting for some, but are quite costly for those who want to own their own business.

#2: Make it your ‘dream’ practice, right from the start
Now that you’ve taken the leap, be sure you customize your practice. Take the time to dream. Where do you want to work? What will your office look like? Which days will you work? How many hours a day will you work? What types of clients will you see? How many clients a day will you see?

If you set up your practice and find yourself: grumbling about the long drive to your office; annoyed that your first client is at 8 a.m.; frustrated that you don’t have a window or that your office is not soundproof enough—you will have no one to blame but yourself.

#3: Set up your practice so that it makes you ‘flush’ as soon as possible
There is nothing more freeing than knowing that the money you make is yours (and Uncle Sam’s) to keep.

On the days you are not seeing clients, consider renting out your excess space in order to pay your rent. You can help out a couple of colleagues who only need part-time space by charging reasonable rent, and they will help you out by covering your expenses.

Perhaps you can teach a couple of courses a semester at a community college and earmark that money as your rent fund. At some universities, you can teach a couple of courses a semester and be eligible for their benefits package.

#4: Create a culture that will keep you healthy and wealthy
Many private practitioners make themselves sick with worry and paranoia that other clinicians will take their clients or take over their referral sources. They become very closed and competitive, thinking they are protecting their investment. Wrong.

A spirit of collaboration will take you much farther than that boat anchor called competition. Sad as it is, there are enough sick and troubled people to go around.  Do your job—provide great service and value—and you won’t have to think about what others are doing around you. In fact, you will find that your colleagues can be a great source of referrals to your practice.

If you spend your career looking over your shoulder, you will never get ahead—you’ll just keep walking into walls.

#5: Be ‘real’ about your business
A big part of private practice is marketing. Don’t be mistaken, and don’t try to close your eyes to that fact. If you want to establish and develop a successful business, you must sell yourself and your practice.

Private practice is not for everyone. It’s an opportunity that brings with it a huge responsibility for marketing and sales.  The good news is that marketing your practice does not have to be overwhelming, and you don’t have to be a “salesman” to be successful. You can learn about it on your own or with the help of a good mentor who can help you with some strategic marketing plans that will set you up for success.

You’ll save yourself a lot of time if you seek out some private-practice coaching. Find someone who has walked the road before you; a mentor or coach who has lots of experience in the business of private practice. The right person can help you identify your niche, create your marketing materials, and pinpoint ways for you to stand out among the pack of private practitioners.

#6: Make relationships that will support you for a lifetime
So you’ve accepted the fact that marketing is part of the gig. The great news is, the type of marketing that is most efficient and effective in our field involves our specialty—relationships!

Your strategic marketing will include developing and nurturing new and ongoing relationships with your clients and your referrers.  People buy from people. You want people to think of you first when they know someone who needs mental health counseling, and you want them to continue to refer to you over and over again because of your relationship skills. You’ll be surprised at the things you can do to build relationships in your community that will bring you referrals again and again. Your phone will keep ringing as long as you keep nurturing those relationships.

A word of caution
Although private practice can be wonderful, it isn’t for everyone. Try your hand at part-time private practice to build up your client load, and also to see if you really do like it.

In surveys, private practice seems to be everyone’s ideal, but some counselors find being in a solo private practice very trying and lonely. For some mental health counselors, the ideal is actually a group practice that has counselors, social workers, and psychologists so that supervision can be done from a multidisciplinary perspective. And while mentors are important, life-long supervision is a must, especially for private practitioners.

Deb Legge, PhD CRC LMHC

Dr. Legge is known nationally as “The Private Practice Mentor”.  Deb helps mental health professionals make more money in private practice and she is licensed to teach Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid® marketing system for service professionals.  Her work has been featured by ACA, Counseling Today, AMHCA, ACA-NY, and in her website,   For more information about how to get more clients and referrals, download her free Rapid Referrals Report:

June Board Meeting Date Change

Please join us for our rescheduled June Board Meeting on 

Monday, June 8, at 6:30 PM

All board meetings are held at:

 1985 Broad Street 
CranstonRhode Island 02905.

Life after Licensure

Life after Licensure


April 20, 2015
1985 Broad St. Cranston, RI, 02905

Whether you are a newly licensed LMHC, a student looking ahead, or a seasoned counseling professional, join us for an informative, interactive discussion of careers in Mental Health Counseling.  There will be a panel of LMHCs speaking about the professional choices they have made and who or what has helped them along the way.
Our commentator will keep the discussion lively with questions and audience participation.

Register with Ashley at

This event is free!

1.5 CEUs available: free for RIMHCA members, $10 for nonmembers

Help your business to thrive!

The RIMHCA seminar originally scheduled for February 9, "The Business of Private Practice" has been rescheduled for April 6, 2015. RIMHCA will also be offering an additional seminar on May 4, 2015, titled "The Business of Your Practice: Setting Up For Success".  Please email  Ashley at to sign up for one or both. See below for details!
Session 1: Growing Your Own Practice: Setting Up Your Vision
April 6, 2015
8:30 – 10:30am
Topics for discussion include:
Resources   •   Marketing   •   Options   •   Networking   •   Community   •   Web Presence   •   Search Engines   •   Efficient use of your time, skills, + energy   •   Promoting

Session 2: The Business of Your Practice: Setting Up for Success
May 4, 2015
8:30 – 10:30am
Topics for discussion include:
   •   Determining the legal structure of your "business": Limited Liability Corporation or, an S corporation (what is the difference? What makes sense?)
   Considering insurance liability and coverage
   Tax planning and preparation
   Please register and submit other topics of discussion for both events to, presenters would love to hear your questions!

Presented by:
Both presentations are FREE to everyone!
2 CEUs each are free to RIMHCA members and $10 for nonmembers

Both of these events will be held at 1985 Broad St. Cranston, RI, 02905.