• by: Laura Da Silva
  • recipient: Insurance companies who do not allow for supervisory contracts

With the significant rise in 2020 of mental health needs, such as suicide, abuse, addiction, and divorce, many outlets report a shortage of Mental Health Clinicians, but this is simply not true. There are many mental health therapists in our community, at various stages of licensing requirements, who are ready to help. So why the perceived shortage?

  • First: Some insurance companies will not pay for mental health services unless provided by a fully licensed mental health professional. This policy severely limits the number of skilled professionals available to serve their customers. ​Other insurance companies allow for a supervisory contract, thus allowing students/Interns and provisionally licensed clinicians to treat clients under careful supervision.
  • Which means: Fully licensed mental health professionals are turning away individuals and families in need due to full schedules. This dynamic further limits the availability of services. ​Wait lists are long and insured individuals are not able to get the necessary treatment in a timely manner. 
  • As a result: People seeking services, during an intense time, are unable to have their needs met unless they opt to pay out-of-pocket to work with provisionally licensed counselors. ​This is a huge disservice to clients/patients and those who are insured. This results in more cost to communities and insurance companies as unmet mental health needs are often later expressed in dangerous somatic or behavioral symptoms, resulting in major medical needs and expenses.

Every day my private practice receives requests for services that are turned away because the schedules for our fully licensed clinicians are full. This is regrettable as my practice also employs provisionally licensed therapists who have openings in their schedules and who would be very effective in helping the individuals. This is the experience of many mental health service providers. And sadly, these individuals in need are hearing the same story from every office they call.

Given these pandemic times and the resulting increased need for mental health services, we call on insurance companies to do the right thing and utilize the full population of trained professionals by allowing for supervisory contracts in order for individuals and families to receive needed services from provisionally licensed mental health counselors and student/interns.

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