South Carolina General Assembly
106th Session, 1985-1986

Bill 2516

                    Current Status

Bill Number:               2516
Ratification Number:       289
Act Number:                191
Introducing Body:          House
Subject:                        Professional Counselor, Associate
                           Counselor, and Marital and Family
View additional legislative information at the LPITS web site.

(Text matches printed bills. Document has been reformatted to meet World Wide Web specifications.)

(A191, R289, H2516)


Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

Professional Counselor, Associate Counselor, and Marital and

Family Therapist Licensing Act

SECTION 1. Title 40 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

"Chapter 75

Professional Counselors, Associate Counselors,

And Marital And Family Therapists

Section 40-75-10. This chapter is known and may be cited as the 'Professional Counselor, Associate Counselor, and Marital and Family Therapist Licensing Act'.

Section 40-75-20. There is created the Board of Examiners for the Licensure of Professional Counselors, Associate Counselors, and Marital and Family Therapists (hereafter called the 'board'), composed of eight members. The Governor shall appoint the members as follows:

(1) There must be six professional members, one from each of the congressional districts in the State, three of whom are licensed professional counselors and three of whom are licensed marital and family therapists.

(2) There must be two members at large from the general public who are not associated with, or financially interested in, the practice of either professional counseling, associate counseling, or marital and family therapy.

The membership must be representative of racial and ethnic minorities and of women. The six professional members must have been actively engaged in the practice of their respective professions or in the education and training of professional counselors, associate counselors, or marital and family therapists for at least five years prior to appointment. The initial professional members must, respectively, be eligible for licensure at the time of their appointment and qualification as members. All subsequent professional members must be licensed prior to appointment. Terms of the members are for four years and until their successors are appointed and qualify. Incumbent members may not hold dual licensure both as a licensed professional counselor and a licensed marital and family therapist. Members are eligible for reappointment but may not serve more than two consecutive terms, except as otherwise specifically provided in this section. Initial members from the first, third, and fifth congressional districts and one of the initial at-large members, as designated by the Governor, shall serve for terms of two years, and these four initial members may serve for up to ten consecutive years on the board. The members must qualify by taking an oath of office before a notary public or other official authorized to administer oaths in the State. Vacancies must be filled in the same manner as original appointment for the unexpired portion of the term. Each member shall receive for his services per diem, subsistence, and mileage as allowed by law for members of state boards, commissions, and committees for each day actually engaged in the duties of his office, including a reasonable number of days, as determined by board regulation, for preparation and reviewing of applications and examinations in addition to time actually spent in conducting examinations.

Section 40-75-30. The board shall:

(1) At the first board meeting in each calendar year elect from the professional membership a president, a vice president, and any other officer it considers necessary. Regular meetings must be held upon the call of the president or any two members of the board. A majority of the members of the board constitutes a quorum.

(2) Establish a standards committee composed of the three professional members who are licensed professional counselors and one of the at-large members from the general public and a standards committee composed of the three professional members who are licensed marital and family therapists and the other at-large member from the general public.

(3) Promulgate regulations to carry out the provisions of this chapter.

(4) Approve the preparation or selection, administration, and the grading of all examinations to applicants for licensure.

(5) Adopt and promulgate in its regulations a code of ethics to govern the conduct of persons licensed under this chapter.

(6) Adopt a seal, the impression of which must be stamped upon all official documents issued by the board.

(7) Keep a full record of all of its proceedings and maintain a complete registry of all license holders or licensees.

(8) License as professional counselors, associate counselors, and marital and family therapists persons who satisfy the respective requirements for licensure.

(9) Assure that no member of the board supervises for a fee any applicant after the applicant has applied for licensure or votes on any applicant the member previously supervised.

The area of concern of the standards committee composed of the three professional members who are licensed professional counselors and one of the at-large members from the general public is professional counselors and associate counselors. The area of concern of the other standards committee is marital and family therapists.

Section 40-75-40. No member of the board and no special examiner, agent, or employee of the board may be held liable for acts performed in the course of official duties except where actual malice is shown. For the purpose of any investigation, inquiry, or proceeding under this chapter, the board or any person designated by it may administer oaths and affirmations, subpoena witnesses, take evidence, and require the production of any document or record which the board considers relevant to the investigation, inquiry, or proceeding. In the case of contumacy by, or refusal to obey a subpoena issued to any person, the court of common pleas, upon application of the board, may issue an order requiring the person to appear before the board or the person designated by it and to produce documentary evidence and to give other evidence concerning the matter under investigation or inquiry.

Whenever the board has reason to believe that any person is violating or intends to violate any provision of the chapter it may order, in addition to all other remedies allowed by law, the person to desist immediately and refrain from the conduct. The board may apply to the court of common pleas for an injunction restraining the person from the conduct. The court may issue ex parte a temporary injunction not to exceed ten days in duration and, upon notice and full hearing, may issue any other order in the matter it considers proper. No bond may be required of the board by the court as a condition to the issuance of any injunction or order contemplated by the provisions of this section.

Section 40-75-50. A. Each standards committee shall carry out the following functions as they relate to each committee's respective area of concern:

(1) Determine whether applicants meet the qualifications for licensure required by law.

(2) Prepare or select, administer, and grade examinations.

(3) Recommend to the board the issuance of a license to any qualified applicant who passes the examination designed to demonstrate professional competence.

(4) Provide for other necessary matters relating to licensure.

B. The board by majority vote shall approve all recommendations and decisions of a standards committee prior to their implementation and no decision of the board which may affect the licensure of professional counselors, associate counselors, or marital and family therapists may become effective without the approval of a majority of the membership of the respective standards committee.

Section 40-75-60. All revenues and income from licenses, examination fees, other fees, and the sale of commodities and services and income derived from any other board source or activity must be remitted to the State Treasurer as collected, when practicable, but at least once each week, and credited to the general fund of the State. All assessments, fees, or licenses must be levied in an amount sufficient to equal at least the amount appropriated in the annual general appropriation act for the board, plus any additional funds allocated by the Budget and Control Board for implementation of the state's personnel compensation plan.

Section 40-75-70. It is unlawful for any person who is not licensed in the manner prescribed in this chapter to represent himself as a licensed professional counselor, licensed associate counselor, or licensed marital and family therapist or to hold himself out to the public as being licensed under this chapter by means of using a title on signs, mailboxes, address plates, stationery, announcements, telephone listings, calling cards, or other instruments of professional identification. Any person violating this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be punished by a fine not to exceed one hundred dollars or by imprisonment not to exceed thirty days or by both.

Section 40-75-80. For the purposes of this chapter, the practice of counseling means rendering or offering to render to children, adolescents, and adults, either individually, in groups, or in organizations, for compensation, monetary or otherwise, counseling or psychotherapeutic services, which include the assessment of background and current information in order to identify problems and conflicts, the development of a counseling treatment program, and application of principles, methods, or the procedures of the counseling profession in order to assist children, adolescents, and adults, either individually, in groups, or in organizations, in achieving more effective personal, social, educational, and vocational development and adjustment. The procedures of counseling include, but are not limited to, the following:

(A) 'counseling', which means assisting children, adolescents, and adults, either individually, in groups, or in organizations, through the counseling and psychotherapeutic relationship to develop an understanding of and to explore possible solutions to interpersonal and personal problems and conflicts, to define goals, to make decisions, and to plan a course of action reflecting an individual's or a group's interests, abilities, and mental and emotional needs which include, but are not limited to, personal-social concerns, psychotherapeutic progress, sexual adjustment, developmental difficulties, educational achievement, and occupational and career development.

(B) 'appraisal', which means selecting, administering, scoring, and interpreting instruments designed to assess an individual's aptitudes, abilities, achievements, interests, and personal characteristics, and the use of nonstandardized methods and techniques for understanding human behavior in relationship to coping with, adapting to, or changing life situations.

(C) 'consulting', which means conferring with other professional colleagues, groups, or organizations for the purpose of assisting them in their work with persons who are experiencing personal problems.

(D) 'referral', which means the evaluation of data to identify problems and to determine the advisability of referral to other specialists.

Section 40-75-90. For the purposes of this chapter, the 'practice of marital and family therapy' means rendering or offering to render to individuals, marital pairs or similar couples, family groups, either singly or in groups, or the general public marital and family therapy services for compensation, monetary or otherwise. 'Marital and family therapy' means a specialized field of psychotherapy which recognizes the importance of marital and family relationships in understanding and treating emotional and mental problems. It centers primarily upon the family system, marital and similar relationships, parent-child relationships, sibling relationships, and other family relationships. It involves the disciplined application of specific principles, methods, and techniques associated with marital and family relationships for the purpose of resolving emotional and mental problems, resolving interpersonal conflict, improving personal functioning, and improving interpersonal relationships. It includes, but is not limited to, premarital, marital, couple, sexual, divorce, and family psychotherapy.

Section 40-75-100. All applicants for licensure shall meet all of the following qualifications:

(1) reside or intend to practice in the State.

(2) pay an application fee.

(3) complete any forms prescribed by the board.

In addition to items (1) through (3) of this section, applicants shall meet the following qualifications for the respective license for:

(A) 'Licensed Professional Counselor':

(i) have earned a doctoral degree which is primarily professional counseling in content and includes clinical experience or the substantial equivalent, and, following the receipt of the degree, have had two years of full-time work experience in a counseling setting that meets the requirements established by the board; or

(ii) have earned a master's degree which is primarily professional counseling in content or the substantial equivalent, and, following the receipt of the degree, have had two years of full-time work experience in a counseling, educational, or community agency setting that meets the requirements established by the board. The work experience shall include one thousand five hundred hours of direct clinical contact with either children, adolescents, or adults; one hundred fifty of these hours shall include individual supervision, fifty hours of which may be group supervision, in the practice of counseling.

(B) 'Licensed Associate Counselor': have earned a master's degree which is primarily counseling in content and includes clinical experience and have filed a board approved plan for practice under the supervision of the board.

(C) 'Licensed Marital and Family Therapist': have earned a master's degree which is primarily marital and family therapy in content, or have taken an equivalent course of study and degree which includes marital and family therapy as determined by the board by regulation, and includes clinical experience or the substantial equivalent. Following the receipt of a qualifying degree, these applicants must also have had two years of full-time work experience which includes one thousand hours of direct clinical contact with couples and families and two hundred hours of supervision of which one hundred hours must have been supervision in the practice of marital and family therapy. The clinical contact and supervised experience must have been obtained working in a marital and family therapy setting that meets the requirements established by the board by regulation.

All degrees submitted as evidence of educational achievement must have been earned at regionally accredited institutions of higher learning. The board in its regulations shall establish criteria for determining acceptable supervised experience and the qualifications of the supervisor.

The board shall notify each applicant not less than thirty days prior to the examination that the application and evidence submitted is satisfactory and accepted or unsatisfactory and rejected. If rejected, the notice shall state the reason or reasons for rejection.

Section 40-75-110. The board shall issue a license to any qualified applicant who:

(1) pays an examination fee and passes a board-conducted examination designed to demonstrate professional competence in professional counseling, associate counseling, or marital and family therapy, and

(2) pays a licensing fee.

Section 40-75-120. The board shall conduct at least one examination in professional counseling, associate counseling, and marital and family therapy each year for qualified applicants. The written examination must be standardized by norm groups that are representative of South Carolina with respect to race, age, sex, and ethnic groups.

Following the examination the board shall notify applicants as to the results. In the event an applicant fails to receive a passing grade on the examination, he must be furnished, upon request, information regarding deficient areas. He may reapply and must be allowed to take a subsequent examination.

Section 40-75-130. Licenses issued under this chapter must be renewed every two years upon the payment of a renewal fee and upon the fulfillment of continuing education as determined by the board by regulation.

Any licensee who allows his license to lapse by failing to renew the license as provided in this section may be reinstated by the board upon satisfactory explanation by the licensee of his failure to renew his license and upon payment of a reinstatement fee and the current renewal fee. If a license has lapsed for more than one year, the board may impose further educational requirements for reinstatement.

Section 40-75-140. Any person is regarded as a 'licensed professional counselor' or a 'licensed associate counselor' or a 'licensed marital and family therapist' within the meaning of this chapter who meets the qualifications and requirements prescribed in this chapter and who is registered and licensed by the board. A license holder or licensee may use the title appearing on his license and the corresponding letters 'LPC' for licensed professional counselor, 'LAC' for licensed associate counselor, or 'LMFT' for licensed marital and family therapist following his name, as the case may be. Every license holder shall display his license in a prominent place in his place of practice.

Section 40-75-150. Upon application accompanied by a fee and without examination the board may issue a license to any person who has furnished satisfactory evidence that he is licensed either as a professional counselor, associate counselor, or marital and family therapist by another state, a territorial possession of the United States, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, if the requirements for licensure in those places are substantially equivalent to the requirements of this chapter in the opinion of the board.

Section 40-75-160. The board may receive complaints by any person against a licensee and may require the complaints to be submitted in writing specifying the exact charge or charges and to be signed by the complainant. Upon receipt of a complaint, the secretary, or other person as the president may designate, shall investigate the allegations in the complaint and make a report to the board concerning his investigation. In instances where a board member makes the initial investigation or complaint, he may not sit with the board at the hearing of the complaint. If the board desires to proceed further it may file, in its discretion, a formal accusation charging the licensee with a violation of this chapter. The accusation must be signed by the president or vice president on behalf of the board. When the accusation is filed and the board has set a date and a place for a hearing on the accusation, the secretary, or other person as the president may designate, shall notify the accused in writing not less than thirty days prior to the hearing and a copy of the accusation must be attached to the notice. The notice must be served personally or sent to the accused by registered mail, return receipt requested, directed to his last mailing address furnished to the board. The post office registration receipt signed by the accused, his agent, or a responsible member of his household or office staff, or, if not accepted by the person to whom addressed, the postal authority stamp showing the notice refused, is prima facie evidence of service of the notice.

The accused may appear and show cause why his license should not be suspended or revoked or why other disciplinary action should not be taken. The accused has the right to be confronted with and to cross-examine the witnesses against him and has the right to counsel. For the purposes of these hearings, the board may require by subpoena the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents and other evidence and may administer oaths and hear testimony, either oral or documentary, for and against the accused. All investigations, inquiries, and proceedings undertaken under this chapter must be confidential.

Every communication, whether oral or written, made by or on behalf of any complainant to the board or its agents or any member of the board, pursuant to this chapter, whether by way of complaint or testimony, is privileged and no action or proceeding, civil or criminal, may lie against any person by whom or on whose behalf the communication is made, except upon proof that the communication was made with malice.

Nothing contained in this chapter prohibits the accused from regular access to the charges and evidence filed against him as a part of due process under the law.

Section 40-75-170. The board may revoke or suspend a license or may reprimand or restrict any licensee, or otherwise discipline him, when it is established that the licensee is guilty of any act of misconduct as defined herein. Misconduct is a satisfactory showing to the board that a licensee has:

(a) Uttered any false, fraudulent, or forged statement or document or committed or practiced any fraudulent, deceitful, or dishonest act in connection with any of the license requirements.

(b) Been convicted of a felony or any other crime involving moral turpitude. Forfeiture of a bond or a plea of nolo contendere is the equivalent of a conviction.

(c) Practiced while under the influence either of alcohol or drugs to such a degree as to affect adversely his ability to practice.

(d) Used alcohol or drugs to such a degree as to affect adversely his ability to practice.

(e) Knowingly performed any act which substantially assists a person to practice counseling or marital and family therapy illegally.

(f) Caused to be published or circulated directly or indirectly any fraudulent, false, or misleading statements as to the skills or methods of practice of any license holder when malice is shown.

(g) Failed to provide and maintain reasonable sanitary facilities.

(h) Sustained any physical or mental impairment or disability which renders practice by him dangerous to the public.

(i) Violated the code of ethics as adopted by the board and published in its regulations.

(j) Obtained fees or assisted in obtaining fees under deceptive, false, or fraudulent circumstances.

(k) Used any intentionally false or fraudulent statement in any document connected with the practice of either professional counseling, associate counseling, or marital and family therapy.

(l) Been found by the board to lack the professional competence to practice.

(m) Violated any provision of this chapter.

(n) Used a solicitor or other person to obtain patronage.

(o) Practiced during the time his license has lapsed.

In addition to all other remedies and actions incorporated in this chapter, the license of a licensee adjudged mentally incompetent by any court of competent jurisdiction must be automatically suspended by the board until the licensee is adjudged competent by a court of competent jurisdiction.

Section 40-75-180. If the board is satisfied that the licensee is guilty of any offense charged in the formal accusation provided for in this chapter, it shall revoke or suspend the license or reprimand or restrict the licensee or otherwise discipline him by taking reasonable action short of revocation or suspension such as requiring the licensee to undertake additional professional training subject to the direction and supervision of the board. The board also may impose other restraints upon the licensee as circumstances warrant until the licensee demonstrates to the board adequate professional competence. In all cases where disciplinary action is taken by the board, written notice of the action must be mailed by the board to the licensee at his last known address as provided to the board.

Any final order of the board finding that a licensee is guilty of any offense charged in a formal accusation becomes public knowledge except for a final order dismissing the accusation or determining that a private reprimand is in order. All final orders which are made public must be mailed to local and state professional associations, all firms or facilities with which the licensee is associated, states where the licensee has a license known to the board, and to any other source to which the board wishes to furnish this information.

Any decision by the board to revoke or suspend a license or to reprimand or restrict a licensee or otherwise to discipline him must be by majority vote and is subject to review by the court of common pleas upon a petition filed by the licensee with the court and a copy served upon the secretary of the board, or, if there is no secretary, upon the president, within thirty days from the date of delivery of the board's decision to the licensee. The review must be in accordance with the provisions of Act 176 of 1977 (Administrative Procedures Act).

Section 40-75-190. Individuals in the following classifications who are performing services of a nature consistent with their training and which services are similar to those described in this chapter are exempt from the provisions of this chapter so long as they do not represent themselves by a title or description in the manner prescribed in Section 40-75-140:

(1) Persons employed in any federal, state, county, or local government, any public or private educational institution, or any community agency.

(2) Students, interns, or trainees pursuing a course of study in a recognized institution of higher learning or training institution, if the activities and services constitute a part of a supervised course of study.

(3) A nonresident person who renders services for no more than thirty days during any year, so long as the person is duly authorized to perform the activities and services under the laws of the state or county of his residence.

(4) Members of a recognized profession or business, including, but not limited to, the practice of medicine, law, psychology, nursing, or social work.

(5) Any rabbi, clergyman, or person of similar status who is a member in good standing of, and accountable to, a recognized denomination or religious organization and who is exercising ministerial responsibilities in the religious body, parish, church ministry, or institutional ministry with which he is associated.

(6) Allied health care professionals who have been employed as third party providers.

(7) Volunteers who are accountable to their sponsoring organization.

(8) Employees of licensed hospitals in the State performing services similar to those described in this chapter so long as the services are performed within the course of and scope of their employment as an employee of the hospital. No regular employee of a licensed hospital in this State may be required under this chapter to be licensed as a condition of employment by such hospital or as a condition for the performance of services similar to those described in this chapter while employed in such hospital.

Nothing in this chapter may be construed to permit a person licensed under this chapter to practice medicine or to represent himself to the public as a psychologist unless he has been duly authorized to do so by other provisions of law. Lecturers from any school, college, agency, or training institution may utilize an academic, research, or job title when invited to present lectures to institutions or organizations.

Section 40-75-200. Every licensee shall make available to each client a copy of a statement of professional disclosure. The statement of professional disclosure shall include the licensee's address and telephone number, fee schedule, educational training, and the address and telephone number of the board.

Section 40-75-210. During the first year following the effective date of this act, the board shall issue without examination the license of 'licensed professional counselor' or 'licensed marital and family therapist' to any person who meets all of the following qualifications:

(1) resides or intends to practice in this State.

(2) pays an application and licensing fee.

(3) completes any forms prescribed by the board.

In addition, the person shall meet one of the following qualifications for 'licensed professional counselor' and the following qualification for 'licensed marital and family therapist':

(A) 'Licensed professional counselor':

(i) must have earned a valid certificate of certification from a professional counselor certification body such as the National Board of Certified Counselors, the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification, the National Academy of Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselors, or the American Academy of Psychotherapists and must have had two years of full-time work experience in counseling; or

(ii) shall document no less than twelve years of full-time supervised work experience in a private counseling practice and produce no less than three letters of recommendation from licensed psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, or counseling psychologists certifying to the person's qualifications to be so licensed.

(B) 'Licensed marital and family therapist' shall hold membership in the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy and must have had two years of full-time work experience in marital and family therapy.

Section 40-75-220. Unless otherwise specifically indicated, wherever the words 'this chapter' or 'provisions of this chapter' appear in any provision of Chapter 75 of Title 40, they must be construed to include regulations promulgated by the board.

Section 40-75-230. All fees prescribed or referred to in this chapter must be determined by the board by regulation."

Time effective

SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon approval by the Governor.