Long waits for licenses at the Department of Public Health

When Liz Wilson submitted her final test results to become a marriage and family therapist in early September, she thought she would be able to receive her license from the Department of Public Health within a couple weeks and move forward opening her own private practice.

Six weeks later on October 21 she finally received notification that she was now officially licensed by the state but there was one last hold up – the DPH only prints licenses once a month.

In her email notification from the DPH, Wilson was informed that her license would not be mailed out until “the third week of next month.”

“It holds up opening my business, it holds up my raise at work and I’m just in a holding pattern,” Wilson said. Wilson works for the Midwestern Connecticut Council of Alcoholism in Derby and unfortunately the agency requires her to have the sealed document in hand in order to get a raise. “In the age of electronics and technology, how do they only print once per month?”

Spokeswoman for the DPH, Maura Downes, confirmed that “all hard copy licenses are printed in a batch at the end of the month and mailed to the licensee” but added that the licenses are active upon approval and can be viewed through the state’s eLicense website.

Downes also said the department is moving toward “paperless licensing” through the eLicense system.

Licensure for a marriage and family therapist requires verification of a degree from the applicant’s school, completion of 12 months of supervised post-graduate work, passing an examination by the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards. In addition to those requirements the application requires a fee of $315 to the state.

As Wilson completed each of these requirements the documents were submitted directly to DPH by her university, supervisor, and the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards for review.

However, a DPH analyst only reviews the documents once all the requirements have been met, according to Downes. “The documentation review and license issuance generally happen within 15 business days of receipt of all required documentation.”

All fifty states require marriage and family therapists to obtain a state license, but attempts have been made to expand therapeutic licensing. During the 2015 legislative session a bill to require state licensing to practice music and art therapy was sent back to committee by the senate.

A watered down version of the music and art therapy bill went into effect on October 1, 2016, which only requires that the practitioner be certified by a professional organization such as The Certification Board for Music Therapists.

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Marc E. Fitch

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