Government Relations

The Government Relations Committee monitors, and recommends positions regarding, legislative issues of interest and concern to clinical counseling.

Follows Announcement of Additional 1900 Mental Health Staff Nationwide

WASHINGTON— The Department of Veterans Affairs has expanded its mental health services to include professionals from two additional health care fields: marriage and family therapists (MFT) and licensed professional mental health counselors (LPMHC).

“The addition of these two mental health professions is an important part of VA’s mission to expand access to mental health services,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.  “Veterans and their families can face unique challenges.  By providing a complete range of services, we can help them address those challenges and help keep more families together.”

The two fields will be included in the hiring of an additional 1,900 mental health staff nationwide that VA announced last week.  Recruitment and hiring will be done at the local level.  The new professionals will provide mental health diagnostic and psychosocial treatment services for Veterans and their families in coordination with existing mental health professionals at VA’s medical centers, community-based outpatient clinics, and Vet Centers.

VA has developed qualification standards for employment as LPMHCs and MFTs and has announced the appointments of mental health and health science professionals to serve on professional standards boards.  The boards will review applicants for LPMHC and MFT positions in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to determine eligibility for employment and the government grade level appropriate for the individual in the selected position.  The boards will also review promotions in these positions.

For more information about mental health care that VA provides, visit:

Last Updated on Monday, 29 April 2013 21:52

Mental Health Counselors included in New House Rural Health Care Legislation


The American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA), the American Counseling Association’s (ACA) and the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) efforts to pass Medicare reimbursement for state-licensed mental health counselors took another step further on June 26, 2007, with the introduction of H.R. 2860, the Health Care Access and Rural Equity (H-CARE) Act of 2007. The bill was introduced by a bi-partisan group of House Rural Health Caucus members, led by co-chairs Reps. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) and Greg Walden (R-OR).

Read more: Mental Health Counselors included in New House Rural Health Care Legislation

Last Updated on Monday, 29 April 2013 21:52
As many of you know, prior to the adjournment of the 109th Congress in December 2006, an agreement was reached on critical veterans’ legislation. The $3.2 billion Veterans Benefits, Health Care and Information Technology Act of 2006 (S. 3421) is an collection of House and Senate initiatives that had been in limbo for months while lawmakers tried to reach a compromise.

S. 3421 included a provision allowing licensed mental health counselors to be hired by Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) programs. This is an important legislative victory for the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) and the American Counseling Association (ACA) not only because it allows counselors to compete for positions at the VA, but because it will also force the federal government to create a job classification specifically for mental health counselors. This is significant to future recognition of mental health counselors in other federal job settings.

AMHCA is hopeful that the VA will soon begin the development of regulations to implement the new law. The proposed regulations will be published in the Federal Register to allow a public comment period. Following VA review of the public’s comments, the regulations will be made final, which could take up to a year or longer. AMHCA will follow this process closely and will be contacting the VA to set up a meeting to provide input into the process. Please look for updates on the implementation of this new law in the AMHCA’s newsletter, The Advocate, E-News from Washington, and other AMHCA publications.

For more information, please contact Beth Powell at AMHCA at 800-326-2642, ext. 105 or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Last Updated on Monday, 29 April 2013 21:52

Congress Passes Bill to Include Counselors in VA Programs


Inclusion of mental health counselors as providers at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA), a top policy goal for the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) and the American Counseling Association (ACA), passed both the U.S. House and Senate during the waning hours of the 109th Congress. The provision, included in S. 3421, the Veterans Benefits, Healthcare, and Information Act, opens up the VA health care system to mental health counselors, increasing access to care for veterans. S. 3421 now goes to President Bush to be signed into law.  


The bill, which passed the House by voice vote and the Senate under unanimous consent, includes the AMHCA and ACA provision to add mental health counselors to the list of appointed positions within the Veterans Healthcare Administration (VHA). The provision would also delineate the qualifications mental health counselors would need to be appointed to a position in the VHA. 


Read more: Congress Passes Bill to Include Counselors in VA Programs

Last Updated on Monday, 29 April 2013 21:52
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