Letter from NBCC to Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr.
March 1, 2004
Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr.
Dear Governor Ehrlich:
The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) opposes Senate Bill 696 which seeks to restrict counselors from using psychological tests, and supports House Bill 953 which allows professional counselors in Maryland to continue testing school children and adults. A substantial number of professionals and professional associations in Maryland oppose Senate Bill 696, which proposes to restrict duly educated and trained licensed professional counselors in Maryland from using psychological tests.
It is NBCC's understanding that the Maryland legislature's intention is not to restrict non-psychologist licensed mental health professionals from practicing what they have learned in accredited Maryland institutions of higher learning, namely how to select, administer, score, and interpret tests for Maryland adults and school children. Furthermore, the State of Maryland funds universities to educate counselors. Surely, they don't spend money to educate these professionals to use tests and then tell the psychologists to rule over test usage of another profession.
NBCC represents 1, 547 nationally certified counselors in Maryland that have been appropriately educated and trained to use tests. Our ethical codes (as well as those of social workers and marriage and family therapists) prohibit counselors from administering, scoring, and interpreting a test in which they have no training. Additionally, there is no case record cited of testing misuse by a licensed counselor in Maryland. Furthermore, we believe that each board should adjudicate its own profession and that no profession should be able to claim any tools, including tests, from another profession.
Most psychological tests are not developed by licensed psychologists; in fact, most tests used in mental health work and in Maryland's schools were developed by non-psychologists, including educators. In effect, the proposed rule would prohibit test developers from using their own tests unless they are eligible for a psychology license. Moreover, tests are used by the various mental health professionals in Maryland, not only psychologists.
Each profession and licensure board should say which tests its members can use and in what context. Psychology is asking the Maryland legislature to allow them to regulate other licensed professionals, when in fact what is occurring is a guild’s attempt to take over a segment of the mental health clinical practice in Maryland. This is wrong for Maryland and its citizens because licensed clinical professional counselors have been educated and trained by accredited Maryland institutions to use tests.
The Association of Test Publishers also is in disfavor of Senate Bill 696 and its proposed trade restriction. Similarly, the Joint Commission on Testing Practices, the National Fair Access Coalition on Testing, and the International Guidelines for Test Use indicate that ethical testing is what is critical in test administration, not restrictions on test use by job title.
NBCC requests that you read the enclosed testimony from one of our national certificants, who also is a licensed psychologist and a graduate testing educator. Also, enclosed is NBCC’s categorical challenge to “psychology tests” and the rationale for why they can be appropriately and professionally used by licensed counselors in Maryland.
NBCC urges you and your staff to look closely at this matter. We await your response to our concerns for the licensed counselors in Maryland. As well, we hope to hear that Maryland’s public will receive wide access to the benefits of testing from all of the duly licensed professional counselors in Maryland.
Thomas W. Clawson, Ed.D., NCC, LPC
cc Susan Roistacher, LCPCM Legislative Chair
Devin Doolan, Esq., Furey, Doolan, & Abel