October 14, 2019
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Bill Text: HB 0707
HB 0707 2004
   
1 A bill to be entitled
2          An act relating to regulation of faith-based counseling;
3    providing definitions; requiring registration of faith-
4    based counselors; specifying nonapplication of certain
5    licensing provisions to certain faith-based counselors
6    under certain circumstances; providing registration
7    procedures and requirements; providing for certification
8    by examination; providing procedures; providing for a fee;
9    providing for registration or certification by
10    endorsement; providing criteria and requirements;
11    providing for renewal of registrations or certificates;
12    providing for a fee; providing criteria and requirements;
13    providing for inactive status; providing requirements and
14    criteria for reactivation of certification; providing
15    fees; providing continuing education requirements;
16    providing procedures and criteria; providing for certain
17    status as a provider; providing for a fee; authorizing the
18    Department of Health to adopt rules; providing for
19    disciplinary actions for certain activities; providing for
20    confidentiality of certain information; providing
21    exceptions; requiring keeping and maintaining certain
22    records; providing requirements for display of
23    certificates and use of professional titles on certain
24    materials; requiring a report to the department; providing
25    an effective date.
26         
27          Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
28         
29          Section 1. (1) DEFINITIONS.--For purposes of this
30    section:
31          (a) "Department" means the Department of Health.
32          (b) "Faith-based counseling" means ministry to
33    individuals, families, couples, groups, organizations, and the
34    general public involving the application of principles and
35    procedures of counseling to assess and treat intrapersonal and
36    interpersonal problems and other dysfunctional behavior of a
37    social and spiritual nature and to assist in the overall
38    development and healing process of those served.
39          (c) "Faith-based counselor" means a person who provides
40    faith-based counseling.
41          (d) "Qualified association" means an association that is
42    certified by a statewide faith-based counseling organization in
43    this state which was in existence on January 1, 2004, and which
44    publishes, and requires compliance with, its standards and files
45    copies of such standards with the department as provided in
46    subparagraph (2)(b)1.
47          (2) REGISTRATION.--
48          (a) A faith-based counselor may not practice, and a person
49    may not commence his or her faith-based counselor professional
50    practicum, internship, or field experience, in this state unless
51    he or she has first registered with and been certified by a
52    qualified association as provided in this section.
53          (b) The licensing provisions of chapter 491, Florida
54    Statutes, do not apply to a faith-based counselor who:
55          1. Is certified by a statewide faith-based counseling
56    organization in this state which was in existence on January 1,
57    2004, and which publishes and requires compliance with the
58    organization's standards and files copies of such standards with
59    the department. Such standards shall be in substantial compliance
60    with chapter 491, Florida Statutes, and the rules and minimum
61    standards adopted under that chapter, with the exception of those
62    standards of a curricular or religious nature. After the
63    department has determined that the standards for faith-based
64    counselors are in substantial compliance with minimum standards
65    that professionals licensed under chapter 491, Florida Statutes,
66    are required to meet, the standards need not be resubmitted to
67    the department unless a change in the standards occurs. If the
68    organization adopts any changes to the standards, the
69    organization shall provide such changes to the department within
70    10 days after their adoption.
71          2. Has been issued a certificate of registration by the
72    qualified association.
73          (c) The qualified association shall register as a faith-
74    based counselor intern an applicant who the qualified
75    association verifies has:
76          1. Completed the application form and remitted a
77    nonrefundable application fee as set by the qualified
78    association, such fee not to exceed $200.
79          2. Completed the minimum education requirements of
80    obtaining a master's degree in faith-based counseling or a
81    related field from an accredited college or a faith-based
82    college and submitted an acceptable supervision plan, working
83    under a registered or certificated faith-based counselor for
84    meeting any practicum, internship, or field work required for
85    registration or certification that may not have been satisfied
86    in his or her graduate program.
87          3. Identified a qualified faith-based counselor to
88    supervise his or her practicum, internship, or field experience.
89          (d) Upon verification that all requirements for
90    registration have been met, the qualified association shall
91    issue to an applicant, without charge, a certificate of
92    registration valid for 1 year. An applicant for certification
93    must remain under supervision until he or she receives his or
94    her certificate of registration from the qualified association.
95          (e) Faith-based counselors who have met the minimum
96    education requirements and commenced the minimum experience
97    requirements as set out in the qualified association's published
98    standards shall register with the qualified association before
99    July 1, 2004. Faith-based counselors who fail to comply with
100    this paragraph shall not be granted a certificate of
101    registration, and any time spent by the person completing the
102    experience requirement prior to registration as an intern shall
103    not count toward completion of such requirement.
104          (3) CERTIFICATION BY EXAMINATION.--
105          (a) Upon verification of documentation and payment of a
106    nonrefundable application fee as set by the qualified
107    association, such fee not to exceed $200, plus the actual per-
108    applicant cost to the qualified association or its registration
109    agent for purchase of the examination from the state, a
110    professional licensure agency, or a similar national
111    professional organization, the qualified association shall issue
112    a certificate of registration as a clinical faith-based
113    counselor to an applicant who the qualified association
114    certifies has:
115          1. Completed the application form and remitted a
116    nonrefundable application fee as set by the qualified
117    association, such fee not to exceed $200.
118          2. Received the minimum of a master's degree in faith-
119    based counseling, or a closely related field, from a regionally
120    accredited college or has received the minimum of a master's
121    degree in faith-based counseling from a faith-based theological
122    seminary which the qualified association has determined was, at
123    the time the applicant graduated, a program equivalent to
124    programs approved by the Council on Faith-Based Counseling
125    Education. An applicant who graduated from a university or
126    college program outside the United States or Canada must present
127    documentation of the equivalency determination from the council
128    in order to qualify to sit for the examination. The master's
129    level graduate program must have included direct clinical
130    pastoral or faith-based patient or client counseling services
131    and the coursework, casework, and experience as required by the
132    qualified association's published standards.
133          3. Passed a theory and practice examination provided by
134    the qualified association for this purpose.
135          4. Demonstrated, in a manner designated by the qualified
136    association's published standards, knowledge of the laws and
137    rules governing the practice of clinical faith-based counseling
138    work.
139          5. Completed a minimum of 3 semester hours or 4 quarter
140    hours of graduate-level coursework as required by the qualified
141    association's published standards.
142          6. Completed the equivalent, as determined by the
143    qualified association, of at least 1,000 hours of university-
144    sponsored or seminary-supervised clinical practicum, internship,
145    or field experience as required by the standards of the council.
146    This experience may not be used to satisfy the postmaster's
147    clinical experience requirement.
148          (4) CERTIFICATION BY ENDORSEMENT.--The qualified
149    association shall issue a certificate of registration to a
150    person in a profession to which this section applies who, upon
151    applying to the qualified association and remitting the
152    appropriate fee, demonstrates to the qualified association that
153    he or she:
154          (a) Has knowledge of the laws and rules governing the
155    practice of clinical faith-based counseling.
156          (b) Holds an active valid license to practice and has
157    actively practiced the profession for which licensure is applied
158    in another state for 3 of the last 5 years immediately preceding
159    his or her application for registration with the qualified
160    association.
161          (c) Meets the educational requirements of this section for
162    the profession for which registration is applied.
163          (d) Has passed a substantially equivalent examination in
164    another state or has passed the registration examination in this
165    state in the profession for which the applicant seeks
166    certification.
167          (e) Holds a certificate in good standing, is not under
168    investigation for an act that would constitute a violation of
169    this section, and has not been found to have committed any act
170    that would constitute a violation of this section.
171          (5) RENEWAL OF REGISTRATION OR CERTIFICATION.--
172          (a) The qualified association shall prescribe by rule a
173    method for the biennial renewal of registration or certification
174    at a fee set by rule, not to exceed $250.
175          (b) Each applicant for renewal shall present satisfactory
176    evidence that, in the period since the registration or
177    certificate was issued, the applicant has completed continuing
178    education requirements set by rule of the qualified association.
179    Not more than 25 classroom hours of continuing education per
180    year shall be required.
181          (c) The qualified association shall prescribe by rule a
182    method for the biennial renewal of an intern registration at a
183    fee set by rule, not to exceed $100.
184          (6) INACTIVE STATUS; REACTIVATION OF CERTIFICATION;
185    FEES.--
186          (a) Upon application to the qualified association and
187    payment of a $50 fee, a registered faith-based counselor may be
188    placed on inactive status.
189          1. An inactive certificate may be renewed biennially for
190    $50.
191          2. An inactive certificate may be reactivated by submitting
192    an application to the qualified association, completing the
193    continuing education requirements, complying with any background
194    investigation required, complying with other requirements
195    prescribed by the qualified association, and paying a $50
196    reactivation fee plus the current biennial renewal fee at the
197    time of reactivation.
198          (b) The qualified association may adopt rules relating to
199    inactive certificates and the reactivation of certificates.
200          (7) CONTINUING EDUCATION AND LAWS AND RULES COURSES;
201    APPROVAL OF PROVIDERS, PROGRAMS, AND COURSES; PROOF OF
202    COMPLETION.--
203          (a) Faith-based continuing education providers, programs,
204    and courses and laws and rules courses and their providers and
205    programs shall be approved by the qualified association.
206          (b) The qualified association may set a fee, not to exceed
207    $200, for each applicant that applies for or renews provider
208    status.
209          (c) Proof of completion of the required number of hours of
210    continuing education and completion of the laws and rules course
211    shall be submitted to the qualified association in the manner and
212    time specified by rule and on forms provided by the qualified
213    association.
214          (d) The department or the qualified association shall adopt
215    rules and guidelines to administer and enforce the provisions of
216    this subsection.
217          (8) DISCIPLINE.--
218          (a) The following acts constitute grounds for denial of
219    certification or disciplinary action, as specified in s.
220    456.072(2), Florida Statutes:
221          1. Attempting to obtain, obtaining, or renewing a
222    registration or certification under this section by bribery or
223    fraudulent misrepresentation or through an error of the qualified
224    association or the department.
225          2. Having a registration or certification to practice a
226    comparable profession revoked, suspended, or otherwise acted
227    against, including the denial of certification or licensure by
228    another state, territory, or country.
229          3. Being convicted or found guilty of, regardless of
230    adjudication, or having entered a plea of nolo contendere to, a
231    crime in any jurisdiction which directly relates to the practice
232    of his or her profession or the ability to practice his or her
233    profession. However, in the case of a plea of nolo contendere,
234    the qualified association shall allow the person who is the
235    subject of the disciplinary proceeding to present evidence in
236    mitigation relevant to the underlying charges and circumstances
237    surrounding the plea.
238          4. False, deceptive, or misleading advertising or obtaining
239    a fee or other thing of value on the representation that
240    beneficial results from any treatment will be guaranteed.
241          5. Advertising, practicing, or attempting to practice under
242    a name other than one's own.
243          6. Maintaining a professional association with any person
244    who the applicant, registered intern, or certificateholder knows,
245    or has reason to believe, is in violation of this section or a
246    rule of the department.
247          7. Knowingly aiding, assisting, procuring, or advising any
248    unregistered or uncertified person to hold himself or herself out
249    as registered or certified under this section.
250          8. Failing to perform any statutory or legal obligation
251    placed upon a person registered or certified under this section.
252          9. Willfully making or filing a false report or record,
253    failing to file a report or record required by state or federal
254    law, willfully impeding or obstructing the filing of a report or
255    record, or inducing another person to make or file a false report
256    or record or to impede or obstruct the filing of a report or
257    record. Such report or record means only a report or record which
258    requires the signature of a person registered or certified under
259    this section.
260          10. Paying a kickback, rebate, bonus, or other remuneration
261    for receiving a patient or client, or receiving a kickback,
262    rebate, bonus, or other remuneration for referring a patient or
263    client to another provider of mental health care services or to a
264    provider of health care services or goods; referring a patient or
265    client to oneself for services on a fee-paid basis when those
266    services are already being paid for by some other public or
267    private entity; or entering into a reciprocal referral agreement.
268          11. Committing any act upon a patient or client which would
269    constitute sexual battery or which would constitute sexual
270    misconduct, as defined in s. 491.0111, Florida Statutes.
271          12. Making misleading, deceptive, untrue, or fraudulent
272    representations in the practice of any profession registered or
273    certified under this section.
274          13. Soliciting patients or clients personally, or through
275    an agent, through the use of fraud, intimidation, undue
276    influence, or a form of overreaching or vexatious conduct.
277          14. Failing to make available to a patient or client, upon
278    written request, copies of tests, reports, or documents in the
279    possession or under the control of the registered intern or
280    certificateholder which have been prepared for and paid for by
281    the patient or client.
282          15. Failing to respond within 30 days to a written
283    communication from the department or the qualified association
284    concerning any investigation by the department or the qualified
285    association or failing to make available any relevant records
286    with respect to any investigation about the registered intern's
287    or certificateholder's conduct or background.
288          16. Being unable to practice the profession for which he or
289    she is registered or certified under this section with reasonable
290    skill or competence as a result of any mental or physical
291    condition or by reason of illness, drunkenness, or excessive use
292    of drugs, narcotics, chemicals, or any other substance. In
293    enforcing this subparagraph, upon a finding by the qualified
294    association that probable cause exists to believe that the
295    registered intern or certificateholder is unable to practice the
296    profession because of the reasons stated in this subparagraph,
297    the qualified association shall have the authority to compel a
298    registered intern or certificateholder to submit to a mental or
299    physical examination by faith-based counselors, psychologists,
300    physicians, or licensees under chapter 491, Florida Statutes,
301    designated by the qualified association. If the registered intern
302    or certificateholder refuses to comply with such order, the
303    qualified association may suspend or revoke the person's
304    registration or certification. A registered intern or
305    certificateholder affected under this paragraph shall at
306    reasonable intervals be afforded an opportunity to demonstrate
307    that he or she can resume the competent practice for which he or
308    she is registered or certified with reasonable skill and safety
309    to patients.
310          17. Performing any treatment or prescribing any therapy
311    which, by the prevailing standards of faith-based counselors in
312    the community, would constitute experimentation on human
313    subjects, without first obtaining full, informed, and written
314    consent.
315          18. Failing to meet the minimum standards of performance in
316    professional activities when measured against generally
317    prevailing peer performance, including the undertaking of
318    activities for which the registered intern or certificateholder
319    is not qualified by training or experience.
320          19. Delegating professional responsibilities to a person
321    who the registered intern or certificateholder knows or has
322    reason to know is not qualified by training or experience to
323    perform such responsibilities.
324          20. Violating a rule relating to the regulation of the
325    profession or a lawful order of the qualified association
326    previously entered in a disciplinary hearing.
327          21. Failure of the registered intern or certificateholder
328    to maintain in confidence a communication made by a patient or
329    client in the context of such services, except as provided in s.
330    491.0147, Florida Statutes.
331          22. Making public statements which are derived from test
332    data, client contacts, or behavioral research and which identify
333    or damage research subjects or clients.
334          (b) The qualified association shall notify the department
335    within 10 days after the suspension or revocation of the
336    registration or certification of any faith-based counselor
337    registered or certified under this subsection.
338          (c)1. The qualified association shall notify the department
339    when the qualified association finds there is a violation of any
340    of the provisions of this subsection which threatens harm to any
341    patient or client.
342          2. The qualified association shall notify the department
343    when the qualified association finds, within 30 days after
344    written notification by registered mail of the requirement for
345    registration, that a person continues to offer faith-based
346    counseling services without a certificate of registration. The
347    department shall enforce the provisions of this subsection
348    pursuant to chapter 491, Florida Statutes.
349          (9) EXEMPTIONS.--No provision of this section shall be
350    construed to limit the performance of activities of a rabbi,
351    priest, minister, or member of the clergy of any religious
352    denomination or sect or use of the term "Christian counselor" or
353    "Christian clinical counselor" when the activities of such person
354    are within the scope of the performance of his or her regular or
355    specialized ministerial duties and no compensation is received by
356    him or her or when such activities are performed, with or without
357    compensation, by a person for or under the auspices or
358    sponsorship, individually or in conjunction with others, of an
359    established and legally cognizable church, denomination, or sect
360    and when the person rendering service remains accountable to the
361    established authority thereof.
362          (10) CONFIDENTIALITY AND PRIVILEGED COMMUNICATIONS.--Any
363    communication between any person registered or certified under
364    this section and his or her patient or client shall be
365    confidential. This secrecy may be waived under the following
366    conditions:
367          (a) When the person certified under this chapter is a party
368    defendant to a civil, criminal, or disciplinary action arising
369    from a complaint filed by the patient or client, in which case
370    the waiver shall be limited to that action.
371          (b) When the patient or client agrees to the waiver, in
372    writing, or when more than one person in a family is receiving
373    therapy and each family member agrees to the waiver, in writing.
374          (c) When there is a clear and immediate probability of
375    physical harm to the patient or client, to other individuals, or
376    to society and the person registered or certified under this
377    section communicates the information only to the potential
378    victim, appropriate family member, or law enforcement or other
379    appropriate authorities.
380          (11) RECORDS.--
381          (a) Each faith-based counselor who provides services as
382    defined in this section shall give notice to all clients and
383    patients on all intake documents and counseling agreements that
384    he or she is not licensed by this state but is registered or
385    certified by the qualified association pursuant to this section.
386    All intake documents and counseling agreements shall contain the
387    address and telephone number of the qualified association.
388          (b) Each faith-based counselor who provides services as
389    defined in this section shall maintain records. The qualified
390    association may adopt rules defining the minimum requirements for
391    records and reports, including content, length of time records
392    shall be maintained, and transfer of either the records or a
393    report of such records to a subsequent treating practitioner or
394    other individual, with written consent of the client or clients.
395          (12) DISPLAY OF REGISTRATION OR CERTIFICATE; USE OF
396    PROFESSIONAL TITLE ON PROMOTIONAL MATERIALS.--
397          (a) A person registered or certified under this section as
398    a faith-based counselor shall conspicuously display the valid
399    registration certificate issued by qualified association or a
400    true copy thereof at each location at which the certificateholder
401    practices his or her profession.
402          (b) A certified faith-based counselor shall include the
403    words "certified faith-based counselor" on all promotional
404    materials, including cards, brochures, stationery,
405    advertisements, and signs, naming the certificateholder.
406          (13) FEES NONREFUNDABLE.--The fees paid by any applicant
407    for certification as a registered faith-based counselor under
408    this section are nonrefundable.
409          (14) REPORT.--The qualified association issuing
410    certificates of registration under this section shall annually
411    report to the department the number of faith-based counselors and
412    interns registered during the most recent calendar year and the
413    names and addresses of the counselors and interns.
414          Section 2. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.
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