Philadelphia/ Politics & Govt
AI Assisted Icon
Published on April 15, 2024
Pennsylvania Expedites Mental Health Services with New Associate Licenses Following Bipartisan LegislationSource: Governor Tom Wolf from Harrisburg, PA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Just days after Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro put the ink on Act 4 of 2024, the PA Department of State has rolled up its sleeves to start accepting applications from would-be associate marriage and family therapists (LAMFTs) and professional counselors (LAPCs), needing only a digital handshake, they can now start their much-needed work in the mental health field. The fresh law aims to grow the number of practitioners by allowing those with the education but not yet the full experience to begin practicing under a supervisory gaze.

The move comes as a relief at a time when mental health services are in high demand and short supply; with the Department of State's quick action, Pennsylvania has wasted no time providing the scaffolding for these new recruits to bolster the state's front-line defense against the mental health crisis under Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt's commendable agility to ensure "crucial mental health services," for which he praised both the state's legislature and Governor Shapiro. Schmidt highlighted the importance of supervised practice saying, "Allowing practitioners who have already completed the educational aspect of their training be eligible for insurance reimbursement enables them to continue to provide supervised, quality, and accessible care to Pennsylvanians in need" in a statement obtained by the Pennsylvania Department of State's news release.

This landmark legislation, a result of bipartisan efforts by state Rep. Melissa Cerrato and state Sen. Pat Stefano, sets a new tone for addressing mental health needs by bridging the gap in care with associate licenses now available to apply for through Pennsylvania's Licensing System at According to Cerrato, "The lack of attainable mental health care, coupled with the ongoing mental health issues affecting our communities, is a perfect storm wreaking havoc throughout Pennsylvania" – her vision of the bill is a stark acknowledgment of the turmoil suffered and the necessity for change as detailed in the department's announcement.

Recent data suggests a sharp uptick in licensed mental health providers in the state, with the number of LAMFTs growing about 38% and LPCs 33% since 2019-20, a testament to Pennsylvania's commitment to mental wellness and Amy Tielemans, the Legislative Chair of the PA Association for Marriage & Family Therapists, noted that "c," reinforcing the community's expectation of accountability to the highest ethical standards," according to the Pennsylvania Department of State's information release.