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NEW JERSEY REGISTER
VOLUME 34, NUMBER 21
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2002
RULE PROPOSAL

LAW AND PUBLIC SAFETY
DIVISION OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS
STATE BOARD OF MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPISTS
PROFESSIONAL COUNSELORS
CONTINUING EDUCATION


Proposed New Rules: N.J.A.C. 13:34-15

Authorized By: State Board of Marriage and Family Therapy Examiners, Dennis Gonzalez, Executive Director.

Authority: N.J.S.A. 45:8B-13 and 45:8B-45.
Calendar Reference: See Summary below for explanation of exception to calendar requirement.
Proposal Number: PRN 2002-399.

Submit written comments by January 3, 2003 to:

Dennis Gonzalez, Executive Director

State Board of Marriage and Family Therapy Examiners

PO Box 45007

124 Halsey Street

Newark, New Jersey 07101

The agency proposal follows:

Summary

The State Board of Marriage and Family Therapy Examiners (the Board), through its Professional Counselors and Rehabilitation Counselors Committee (the Committee), proposes new rules, N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.1 through 15.7, to establish continuing education requirements for professional counselors in New Jersey. The proposed new rules implement N.J.S.A. 45:8B-45, which confers upon the Committee the authority to promulgate rules and regulations for implementing continuing education requirements as a condition of license renewal. The proposed new rules encourage the maintenance of continuing proficiency for licensed professional counselors so that practitioners will be able to apply new techniques and advances to benefit patient care.

Proposed new rule N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.1 summarizes the Board's continuing education hour requirements. Licensees seeking biennial renewal shall complete 40 contact hours of continuing education as defined in N.J.A.C. 13:34- 15.5(a) during the renewal period following the effective date of the rules. However, a licensee will not be required to obtain continuing education contact hours during the period in which the licensee obtained initial licensure but will be subject to the continuing education requirements for all subsequent biennial renewal periods. Of these 40 contact hours of continuing education, the Board will require the licensee to complete at least five contact hours in the biennial renewal period in ethical and legal standards in the counseling profession. The licensee shall complete the remaining continuing education contact hours in educational activities directly related to the counseling profession. A licensee obtaining more than 40 contact hours during a biennial period may carry a maximum of 10 contact hours into the next succeeding biennial period.

Proposed new rule, N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.2, sets forth the contact-hour requirements for licensed professional counselors. N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.2(a) establishes that a professional counselor shall not be required to obtain continuing education contact hours during the period of initial licensure prior to the professional counselor's first biennial renewal period, but shall be subject to the requirements of N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.1 for all subsequent biennial renewal periods. In addition, N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.2(b) establishes that a licensed professional counselor must complete at least five of the required 40 contact hours in ethical and legal standards in the counseling profession regardless of the number of contact hours accrued during the biennial period.

Proposed N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.3 establishes the contact-hour requirements for licensed professional counselors with a specialty permit. A licensed professional counselor holding a specialty permit must satisfy the specialty permit continuing education requirements of the National Boardof Certified Counselors (NBCC). These required continuing education contact hours may be used to satisfy the 40 contact hours of continuing education required by the Committee for the licensed professional counselor.

Proposed N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.4(a) specifies courses, programs or articles which are acceptable for continuing education credit. These courses, programs or articles must be directly related to professional counseling or fall within the following content areas: counseling theory and practice, the helping relationship, human growth and development and maladaptive behavior, lifestyle and career development, group dynamics, processes, counseling and consulting, appraisal of individuals, social and cultural foundations, research and evaluation and the counseling profession. N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.4(a)1 specifies that if a continuing education course or program has been approved by the National Board for Certified Counselors; the American Counseling Association; the American Psychological Association; the American Psychiatric Association; the National Association of Social Workers; the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy; the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselors Certification; the American Orthopsychiatric Association; the American Medical Association; the American Nursing Association; the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors; or the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium/Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, Inc., then these continuing education courses or programs will be deemed acceptable sources of continuing education. Proposed N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.4(a)2 establishes that teaching or completing graduate coursework at a regionally accredited institution of higher education will also qualify as acceptable sources of continuing education. N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.4(a)3 establishes that if a licensee authors a refereed article that is published in a professional journal, continuing education credit will be granted to that licensee. In addition, N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.4(a)4 enables a licensee to earn continuing education credit if the licensee presents a course or program that has been approved by one of the organizations listed at N.J.A.C. 13:34-24.3(a)1.

N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.4(b) provides that if a course or program has not been approved by any of the organizations listed in N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.4(a), the licensee must first apply to and obtain approval from one of the listed organizations prior to seeking acceptance of continuing education credit by the Committee.

N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.4(c) establishes the acceptable course and program content areas for continuing education. These areas include: counseling theory and practice; the helping relationship; human growth and development and maladaptive behavior; lifestyle and career development; group dynamics, processes, counseling and consulting; appraisal of individuals; social and cultural foundations; research and evaluations; and the counseling profession.

Proposed new rule N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.5 establishes the continuing education credits and contact-hour calculation. Subsection (a) specifies that the Committee will only grant credit for the continuing education courses and programs that are at least one contact hour long and are directly related to the professional counseling practice. Subsection (a) defines a "contact hour" as a 60-minute clock hour with no less than 50 minutes of content within the hour. Programs may include one 10-minute break for each contact hour. Subsection (b) requires a licensee to complete and verify completion of a continuing education course or program to receive continuing education credit. N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.5(b)1 sets forth that a licensee who completes graduate coursework at a regionally accredited institution of higher education will receive fifteen continuing education contact hours for each semester course credit awarded beyond the required educational standards. N.J.A.C. 13:34- 15.5(b)2 establishes that a licensee teaching graduate courses offered at a regionally accredited institution of higher education will receive fifteen continuing education contact hours for each semester course credit awarded for each new course which a licensee teaches. N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.5(b)3 sets forth that if a licensee has authored a refereed article published in a professional journal within the preceding biennial period, then the licensee will be granted four continuing education contact hours per article with a maximum of eight contact hours per biennial period. N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.5(b) 4 establishes that a licensee will be granted one and one-half, with a maximum of nine, continuing education contact hours for each hour of a new course or program presentation. For the purposes of this subsection, "new" means a course or program that the professional counselor has not taught previously in any educational setting.

Proposed new rule N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.6 sets forth the requirements for documenting continuing education credit. N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.6(a) requires a licensee to retain documentation of completed continuing education contact hours in order to verify program attendance or activity. A licensee must submit this documentation to the Committee upon its request. The Committee may periodically audit the records of licensees on a random basis to determine compliance with the continuing education requirements. Pursuant to subsection (b), a licensee must verify attendance at continuing education courses or programs by a certificate of attendance or by a statement from the course or program instructor. The verification must include the name of the licensee, the name of the sponsor, the title, location and date of the course or program, the signature of a program official and the number of continuing education hours awarded. Subsection (c) provides the materials a licensee must retain to verify continuing education activities. Subsection (d) sets forth that a licensee shall maintain verification documentation for five years following the renewal period for which the Committee has granted the licensee continuing education credit. Subsection (e) establishes that falsification of any information submitted with the renewal application or failure to meet the continuing education requirements may result in the Committee taking appropriate disciplinary measures, including suspension of license, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 45:1-21. Subsection (f) sets forth that the Committee may reject any continuing education contact hours claimed for continuing education credit that are not relevant to the practice of professional counseling.

Proposed new rule N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.7 establishes the circumstances in which the Committee will not require continuing education hours as a condition of license renewal. N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.7(a) sets forth the circumstances in which the Committee may waive all or part of the continuing education requirements. In particular, the Committee may waive continuing education requirements for hardship such as illness, disability, active service in the military or other good cause as established by the licensee. Pursuant to N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.7(b), a waiver request to the Committee shall set forth with specificity the reasons for requesting the waiver and shall provide such additional information as the Committee may request.

The Committee has determined that the comment period for this proposal shall be 60 days; therefore, pursuant to N.J.A.C. 1:30-3.3(a)5, this proposal is excepted from the rulemaking calendar requirement.

Social Impact

The proposed new rules will have a positive social impact on members of the general public who use the services of professional counselors in New Jersey. The rules ensure that professional counselors maintain continuing proficiency in the use and application of new techniques and advances in the profession to the benefit of the public.

The proposed new rules impact professional counselors who must now commit time to complete the continuing education requirement and to maintain appropriate documentation. The proposed new rules are, however, of benefit to professional counselors in terms of increased professional knowledge and to the consumer who receives services from highly qualified, capable and well-informed professionals. Thus, the new rules weigh strongly in favor of the public interest and furnish the Board with the guidelines to enforce continuing competency requirements within its legislative authority.

Economic Impact

The proposed new rules have an economic impact upon the approximately 1,800 professional counselors currently licensed in the State of New Jersey who will incur ongoing costs to complete continuing education courses, programs or other professional activities. The cost to each licensee will vary depending on the course, program or professional activity he or she selects. The Board does not anticipate that the new rules will cause professional counselors to increase their fees to recoup the cost of maintaining professional competence. Moreover, the overwhelming benefit of continuing competency to both the licensee and the general public weighs strongly in favor of the rules.

Federal Standards Statement

A Federal standards analysis is unnecessary as there are no Federal standards or requirements which address the subject matter. The Committee proposes these new rules pursuant to the State statutes governing the profession of professional counseling.

Jobs Impact

The proposed new rules will impact each applicant for an active registration renewal certificate who fails to substantiate completion of the mandatory continuing education credits. The proposed new rules establish that the Committee may take disciplinary action, including license suspension, against any applicant for license renewal who falsifies any information submitted with the renewal application or fails to meet the continuing education requirements. The Committee believes that potential loss of license will encourage compliance with the rules. The proposed new rules may have a positive impact on jobs for continuing education lecturers and program and seminar sponsors who will administer the various offerings.

Agriculture Industry Impact

These proposed new rules will have no impact on the agriculture industry in the State.

Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

The Regulatory Flexibility Act ("the Act"), N.J.S.A. 52:14B-16 et seq., requires the Committee to give a description of the types and an estimate of the number of small businesses to which the proposed new rules will apply. If the approximately 1,800 licensed professional counselors in the State are considered "small businesses" for the purposes of the Act, then the following analysis applies.

The Act requires the Committee to set forth the reporting, recordkeeping and other compliance requirements of the proposed new rules including the kind of professional services likely to be needed to comply with the requirements. The Act further requires the Committee to estimate the initial and annual compliance costs of the proposed new rules, and to provide an indication of the likely variation on small businesses of differing types and sizes. In addition, the Act requires the Committee to outline the manner in which it has designed the rules to minimize adverse economic impact upon small businesses.

The proposed new rules impose minimal reporting requirements on licensees. A licensee seeking renewal confirms on the renewal application form that he or she has complied with the Committee's continuing education requirements. A licensee seeking waiver of the Committee's continuing education requirements submits a request to the Committee specifying the reasons for the waiver request, together with any documentation required by the Committee.

Likewise, the proposed new rules impose minimal recordkeeping requirements on licensees and course, program, or seminar sponsors. A licensee is required to retain a record of all continuing education activity completed for five years following license renewal and to provide this documentation to the Committee upon request. Documentation may include certificate of attendance or a statement from the course or program instructor. The verification shall include the name of the licensee, the name of the sponsor, the title, location and date of the course or program, the signature of a program official and the number of continuing education hours. In addition, a licensee shall verify continuing education activities by retaining a copy of the published article for publications; copies of the program, syllabus, outlines and bibliographies for course or program presentations; copies of the syllabus, bibliography, course outlines and verification from the academic institution that the course was new for teaching. A licensee shall verify completion of graduate coursework by an official transcript.

There are unlikely to be any initial capital costs to licensees to comply with the proposed new rules and it is not anticipated that there will be a need for outside professional services. Licensees will, however, incur ongoing costs to complete professional activities to comply with the proposed new rules. Such costs will vary depending on the professional activity a licensee selects. Because the Committee intends to maintain a minimum level of proficiency among all professional counselors, after the renewal period following initial licensure, no exemption will be granted except in cases of undue hardship such as severe illness, disability or military service. Ultimately, any costs which the proposed new rules impose on licensees are strongly outweighed by the positive impact of the rules upon the public interest.

Smart Growth Impact

The Committee does not believe that the proposed new rules will have any impact upon the achievement of smart growth or upon the implementation of the State Development and Redevelopment Plan.

Full text of the proposal follows:

<<+SUBCHAPTER 15. CONTINUING EDUCATION+>>

<< NJ ADC 13:34-15.1 >>

<<+13:34-15.1 License renewal and continuing education requirement+>>

<<+All licensed professional counselors shall complete 40 contact hours of continuing education for license renewal. The licensed professional counselor shall confirm on the renewal application that the licensee has completed all continuing education requirements pursuant to N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.1 and 15.2 during the biennial period preceding application for renewal. Except as set forth in N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.2, a professional counselor applying for renewal for the first renewal period following (the effective date of these rules) shall complete a minimum of 40 contact hours during this renewal period.+>>

<< NJ ADC 13:34-15.2 >>

<<+13:34-15.2 Contact-hour requirements for licensed professional counselors+>>

<<+(a) A professional counselor shall not be required to obtain continuing education contact hours during the period of initial licensure prior to the professional counselor's first biennial renewal period, but shall be subject to the requirements of N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.1 for all subsequent biennial renewal periods.+>>

<<+(b) A licensed professional counselor shall complete at least five of the 40 contact hours required by N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.1 in ethical and legal standards in the counseling profession regardless of the number of contact hours accrued during the biennial period.+>>

<<+(c) If the licensed professional counselor earns more than 40 contact hours during a biennial period, the professional counselor may carry a maximum of 10 contact hours into the next succeeding biennial period.+>>

<< NJ ADC 13:34-15.3 >>

<<+13:34-15.3 Contact-hour requirements for licensed professional counselors with a specialty permit+>>

<<+A holder of a specialty permit shall satisfy the specialty permit continuing education requirements of the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). The required continuing education contact hours for the specialty permit may be used to satisfy the Committee's 40 contact hours of continuing education requirements for the licensed professional counselor set forth in this subchapter.+>>

<< NJ ADC 13:34-15.4 >>

<<+13:34-15.4 Approval of courses or programs+>>

<<+(a) The following are acceptable sources of continuing education courses, programs and articles as long as the courses, programs or articles fall within the content areas set forth in (c) below or are directly related to professional counseling:+>>

<<+1. Courses and programs approved by the National Board for Certified Counselors; the American Counseling Association; the American Psychological Association; the American Psychiatric Association; the National Association of Social Workers; the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy; the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselors Certification; the American Orthopsychiatric Association; the American Medical Association; the American Nursing Association; the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors; or the member boards of the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium/Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, Inc.;+>>

<<+2. Teaching or completing graduate coursework at a regionally accredited institution of higher education;+>>

<<+3. Authoring a refereed article published in a professional journal within the preceding biennial period; and+>>

<<+4. Presentation of a course or program approved by one of the organizations listed at N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.4(a)1.+>>

<<+(b) Prior to seeking approval of continuing education credit from the Committee for attending or presenting a course or program that has not been approved by any of the organizations listed in (a)1 above, the professional counselor shall first apply to and obtain approval from one of the listed organizations.+>>

<<+(c) The following are acceptable content areas for continuing education:+>>

<<+1. Counseling theory and practice which provide basic theories, principles and techniques of counseling and their application to professional counseling settings;+>>

<<+2. The helping relationship which provides broad understanding of philosophic bases of helping processes, basic and advanced helping skills, consultation theories and their applications, client and helper self- understanding and self-development, and facilitation or consultee change;+>>

<<+3. Human growth and development and maladaptive behavior which provide a broad understanding of the nature and needs of individuals at all developmental levels, normal and abnormal behavior, personality theory, life- span theory, and learning theory within cultural contexts;+>>

<<+4. Lifestyle and career development which provides a broad understanding of career development theories, occupational and educational information sources and systems, career and leisure counseling, guidance and education, lifestyle and career decision-making, career development program planning, resources, and career option identification;+>>

<<+5. Group dynamics, processes, counseling and consulting which provide a broad understanding of group development dynamics, group counseling theories, group leadership styles, basic and advanced group counseling methods and skills, and other group approaches;+>>

<<+6. Appraisal of individuals which provides a broad understanding of group and individual educational and psychometric theories and approaches to appraisal, data and information gathering methods, validity and reliability, psychometric statistics, factors that influence appraisals, use of appraisal results in helping process and the specific ability to administer and interpret tests and inventories to assess abilities, interests, and identify career options;+>>

<<+7. Social and cultural foundations which provide a broad understanding of societal changes and trends, human roles, societal subgroups, social mores and interaction patterns, multicultural and pluralistic trends, differing lifestyles, and major societal concerns including stress, person abuse, substance abuse, discrimination and methods of alleviating these concerns;+>>

<<+8. Research and evaluation which provide a broad understanding of types of research, basic statistics, research and report development, research implementation, program evaluation, needs assessment, publication of research information and ethical and legal considerations; and+>>

<<+9. The counseling profession which provides a broad understanding of professional roles and functions, professional goals and objectives, professional organizations and associations, professional history and trends, ethical and legal standards, professional preparation standards and professional credentialing.+>>

<< NJ ADC 13:34-15.5 >>

<<+13:34-15.5 Continuing education credits and contact-hour calculation+>>

<<+(a) The Committee shall grant credit only for continuing education courses and programs that are at least one contact hour long and are directly related to professional counseling practice. For purposes of this subchapter, a "contact hour" means a 60-minute clock hour with no less than 50 minutes of content within the hour. Courses and programs may include one 10-minute break for each contact hour.+>>

<<+(b) A professional counselor shall complete and be able to verify the completion of a continuing education course, program or article as set forth in N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.4 in order to receive continuing education credit. The Committee shall grant a professional counselor continuing education credit for each biennial renewal period as follows:+>>

<<+1. Completing graduate coursework at a regionally accredited institution of higher education: 15 continuing education contact hours for each semester course credit awarded beyond the required educational standards which the professional counselor must complete for licensure as set forth in N.J.A.C. 13:34-11.3;+>>

<<+2. Teaching graduate courses offered at a regionally accredited institution of higher education: 15 continuing education contact hours for each semester course credit awarded for each new course which a professional counselor teaches. For the purposes of this subsection, "new" means a course that the professional counselor has not taught previously in any educational setting;+>>

<<+3. A refereed article published in a professional journal within the preceding biennial period: four continuing education contact hours per article with a maximum of eight contact hours per biennial period; and+>>

<<+4. Course or program presentation: one and one-half continuing education contact hours for each hour of a new offering up to a maximum of nine continuing education contact hours. For the purposes of this subsection, "new" means a course or program that the professional counselor has not previously presented.+>>

<< NJ ADC 13:34-15.6 >>

<<+13:34-15.6 Documentation of continuing education credit+>>

<<+(a) A professional counselor shall retain documentation of the continuing education hours which the professional counselor completes in order to verify program attendance or activity completion. Each professional counselor shall submit such documentation to the Committee upon its request. The Committee may periodically audit the records of professional counselors, on a random basis, to determine compliance with continuing education requirements of this subchapter.+>>

<<+(b) A professional counselor shall verify attendance at continuing education courses or programs by a certificate of attendance or by a statement from the course or program instructor. The verification shall include the name of the licensee, the name of the sponsor, the title, location and dateof the course or program, the signature of a program official and the number of continuing education hours awarded.+>>

<<+(c) A professional counselor shall verify continuing education activities by retaining the following:+>>

<<+1. For publications, a copy of the published article;+>>

<<+2. For course or program presentations, copies of the program, syllabus, outlines and bibliographies;+>>

<<+3. For teaching, copies of the syllabus, bibliography, course outline and verification from the academic institution that the course was "new" as defined by N.J.A.C. 13:34-15.5(b)2; and+>>

<<+4. For graduate coursework, an official transcript.+>>

<<+(d) A professional counselor shall maintain verification documentation for five years following the renewal period for which the Committee has granted the professional counselor continuing education credit.+>>

<<+(e) Falsification of any information submitted with the renewal application or failure to meet the continuing education requirements may result in the Committee taking appropriate disciplinary measures, including suspension of license, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 45:1-21.+>>

<<+(f) The Committee may reject any continuing education contact hours claimed for continuing education credit that are not relevant to the practice of professional counseling in the State of New Jersey.+>>

<< NJ ADC 13:34-15.7 >>

<<+13:34-15.7 Waiver of continuing education requirements+>>

<<+(a) The Committee may waive continuing education requirements on an individual basis for reasons of hardship such as illness, disability, active service in the military or other good cause as established by the professional counselor.+>>

<<+(b) A professional counselor who seeks a waiver of the continuing education requirements shall provide to the Committee, in writing, the specific reasons for requesting the waiver and such additional documentation as the Committee may request in support of the waiver.+>>

SUBCHAPTER<<-S 15 THROUGH->> 16. (RESERVED)

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Posted November 4, 2002