Tennessee Counselors Oppose New State Counseling Law

Professors at Middle Tennessee State University’s Counseling Program are speaking out against a new state law that infringes on the professions ethical standards.

The new state law says that counselors in the state of Tennessee do not have to work with patients whose behaviors or beliefs conflict with that of their own. Opponents of the new state law say that the law is just a legal form of discrimination.

“It’s certainly a concern for us,” said Professor Dr. Robin Lee. “We felt like it could compromise our ethical standards, something that’s been developed for many, many years.”

Lee is one of five professors in Middle Tennessee State’s Professional Counseling Program. Lee is also the head of the program’s clinic, which is where students have supervised sessions with real clients and work on becoming a licensed professional counselor.

“We really want to make sure the focus remains primarily on the client and not on the counselor,” Lee added. “When it becomes about the counselor, we’ve really sort of diverted the focus away from the clients and why they’ve chosen to come in and seek help.”

State Senator Jack Johnson, Republican-Franklin, One of the bill’s sponsors, gave a quote to local news crews about his position on the law:

“The radical change to the American Counseling Association’s code of ethics in 2014 was inconsistent with Tennessee values. I was proud to sponsor legislation earlier this year to insure that Tennesseans in need of therapy are able to obtain services from counselors best able to provide the needed counseling. It is preposterous to prevent a counselor from referring a client to another counselor in non-emergent situations when they believe it is in the best interest of the client.”

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