Eye on Florida Laws and Rules
IMPORTANT UPDATE! On “I want to start a private practice. What do I need to know?”
© Catherine L. Waltz, PhD, LCSW
October 29, 2014
I’m a Registered Intern; can I have a private practice?
These questions and others have been posed to me over the years. This commentary is an exploration of initial issues related to creating a private practice. I start with issues of interest to Registered Interns. Qualified Supervisors and other licensed mental health professionals may be interested to know this information. That being said, it is imperative that the clinician seeking to establish an independent private practice become familiar with topics related to “formulating, developing, and maintaining business savvy in the provision of professional services” (Woody, 2013). Some specific costs and procedures related to an independent private practice business are identified to prompt you to consider.
Let’s look at the Florida statute regarding Registered Interns and independent private practice. The quote below is from the section of law for social work practice and we can substitute marriage and family therapy or mental health counselling as the wording is the same.
Chapter 491, our practice act states this:
491.005 Licensure by examination.—
491.005(1)(c) . . .
“The experience requirement may be met by work performed on or off the premises of the supervising clinical social worker or the equivalent, provided the off-premises work is not the independent private practice rendering of clinical social work that does not have a licensed mental health professional, as determined by the board, on the premises at the same time the intern is providing services.”
So, what are the ramifications of this statute?
The fact that a licensed professional must be on premises at all times that the intern is seeing a client automatically makes it quite impractical for an intern to own a practice. They would have to pay a licensed individual to be present at all times they meet with clients or hope that the professional happens to have their own clients concurrently (private communication).
HOWEVER, don’t get too excited Interns. This next part is also very important. The Florida Administrative Code/Rule 64B4-2.003 now states,
“Supervision provided by the applicant’s therapist, parents, spouse, former spouses, siblings, children, employees[emphasis added], or anyone sharing the same household, or any romantic, domestic or familial relationship shall not be acceptable toward fulfillment of licensure requirements. For the purposes of this section, a supervisor shall not be considered an employee of the applicant if the only compensation received by the supervisor consists of payment for actual supervisory hours.
Hiring someone for you practice who can be present, see their own clients and/or otherwise participate in the functioning of the practice and then provide your supervision is prohibited as that represents a conflict of interest (private communication)”.
This current law is being revised and the proposed language is this:
“So in order to legally operate a private practice, one would need to hire a licensed professional to be present at all times that you are seeing clients and then you would need to have separate person serve as your qualified supervisor. Of course, there are folks out there who defy these laws and rules. The state is well aware that this nonsense is happening regularly and so just this year, moved to clarify the law so that those who want to stick to technicalities and ignore the spirit of the laws and rules would be without excuse. The text of the proposed 491.005 (4) (c) reads (copied directly from the bill):
111 A licensed
112 mental health professional must be on the premises when clinical
113 services are provided by a registered intern in a private
114 practice setting. A registered intern may not engage in his or
115 her own independent private practice The experience requirement
116 may be met by work performed on or off the premises of the
117 supervising clinical social worker or the equivalent, provided
118 the off-premises work is not the independent private practice
119 rendering of clinical social work that does not have a licensed
120 mental health professional, as determined by the board, on the
121 premises at the same time the intern is providing services.
Any Registered Intern who is contemplating even a “technically legal” arrangement for private practice will find themselves clearly on the wrong side of the law when this revision is passed (private communication)”.
- Catherine L. Waltz, PhD, LCSW is an adjunct professor in the graduate program of the School of Social Work, Barry University. She has been a continuing education provider in the state of Florida for more than 10 years. She provides courses on professional ethics, laws and rules, supervision, mental health error prevention among other topics: http://drwaltz.corecommerce.com/Workshops-At-A-Glance-15.html
The educational commentaries provided by Dr. Waltz do not constitute a legal opinion. If legal advice is needed, it is recommended that contact be made with an attorney qualified in the jurisdiction in which you practice or is applicable to your case. We recommend that you use your knowledge of the law and your code of ethics in conjunction with this information (and any other) when deciding upon any course of action.