Legislative representation is a core CAP’s commitment to maintaining the right of registered psychotherapists to practice psychotherapy. CAP is a voice for Registered Psychotherapists to the Colorado state legislature and the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA.) CAP works with legislators who are interested in mental health and works to keep them informed about the relevant issues and the many dimensions of psychotherapy.
CAP partners often with other associations and groups to address legislative issues relevant to mental health. CAP has supported legislation jointly with Mental Health Colorado, DORA Mental Health Task Force, Colorado Mental Health Professionals Association, and other associations representing various mental health professionals. Members are updated regularly about the ongoing legislative and regulatory dialogue.
A HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF CAP’S LEGISLATIVE ACTIVITIES
The Colorado Association of Psychotherapists (CAP) was incorporated as a non-profit professional association in 1992. At that time unlicensed psychotherapists organized in order to protect their rights to practice in Colorado. For the past twenty-seven years, CAP has grown in recognition as a significant player in the legislative community concerning the practice of psychotherapy. The public has benefitted by increased access to a broad range of mental health services. CAP has supported maintaining access to registered psychotherapists by providing education, training and other professional development activities to psychotherapists.
In 1991, a proposed Colorado Mental Health Licensing Statute would have prohibited unlicensed psychotherapists who had been working in the state for some time from providing services to the public. Because of the diligent efforts of Steve Andreas and several others such as Rob Williams, the proposed legislation was not passed. Solid national research and data that had been collected by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Affairs were shared that highlighted the quality mental health services offered to the public by Registered Psychotherapists. Instead of banning unlicensed psychotherapy, the result of the legislative and public dialogue, was for the legislature to regulate unlicensed psychotherapists. Doing so maintained public choice among modalities of psychotherapy and placed unlicensed psychotherapists on grievance boards.
Since 1992 there have been three “Sunset Reviews” by the Colorado Office of Policy, Research and Regulatory Reform (COPRRR) of the Department of Regulatory Agencies. Each one involved the DORA reviewing the existing law and making recommendations to the Colorado Legislature for statutory changes. In each of these reviews, a coalition of mental health provider groups, including CAP, has advocated with DORA and lobbied legislators on common positions and recommendations for changes. The sunset review questions the need for regulation to protect the public. If regulation is determined to be needed, the sunset review process looks for the least restrictive level of regulation consistent with the public interest.
In 2004 the Sunset process maintained unlicensed psychotherapists as part of the Colorado Mental Health Act. CAP helped State Legislators recognize how the elimination of thousands of psychotherapists and business owners would not improve the public’s access to professional mental health services. CAP’s professional presence supported the maintenance of regulation of anyone practicing psychotherapy.
CAP works with other mental health associations to protect the public’s right to access a full spectrum of mental health practitioners. Our lobbyists, legislative committee, and board members monitor relevant legislative and regulatory initiatives, supports free choice in Colorado, and lobbies at the state capital.
During the most recent Sunset Review, DORA recommended that the “unlicensed psychotherapist” providers term in the statute be changed to “registered psychotherapist”. This recommendation was then included in the bill which was introduced in January of 2011. CAP Board, Legislative Committee Chair, CAP lobbyist and its members worked diligently to keep legislators informed which allowed the Sunset Review Bill to be passed into law in the Spring of 2011. We are especially grateful to Suzi Vannuci, Greg McHugh, Dr. Betty Cannon, and Dr. Reo Leslie for their tireless efforts on CAP’s behalf to make it possible for the public to have access to registered psychotherapists.
We are grateful that efforts have maintained access to psychotherapy by continuing the right of Registered Psychotherapists to practice psychotherapy. Those working in the field today as Registered Psychotherapists in Colorado have contributed in major ways to the mental health field. A major example is Applied Existential Psychotherapy which was developed in Colorado and is now studied and practiced worldwide. Maintaining the public’s right to choose the psychotherapist and modality that works for them has kept Colorado at the forefront of developments in the mental health field.
By registering those practicing psychotherapy, the public is protected because Registered Psychotherapists are regulated by a grievance board. Also, Registered Psychotherapists are required to disclose their training and education to their clients. CAP supports this by posting member profiles which include the education, training and other professional development activities of CAP members. CAP is grateful for the opportunity to support legislators committed to improving access to and monitoring of mental health professionals offering psychotherapy services to the citizens of Colorado.