Association of Utah Substance Abuse Professionals



AUSAP would like to express our appreciation to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) for joining with us in making amendments to the Mental Health Practice Act in 2010. (To read the bill follow this link: SB 0090 – 2010 Mental Health Practice Act)

The Following changes took affect in March of 2012

Talking Points on House Bill 496

Mental Health Practice Act Revisions

  • Changes were developed in, and approved by, a USAAV Workgroup comprised of representatives of all the professions, agencies and advocacy organizations involved
  • Clarifies titles, roles and definitions for Mental Health Therapists and Substance Use Disorder Counselors
  • Clarifies locations where Substance Use Disorder Counselors can practice
  • Brings Substance Disorder Counselor Profession in line with nationally published standards and terminology
  • Changes will allow Substance Use Disorder counselors to work in Primary Health Care clinics, Recovery Support/Aftercare Programs, Private Practice Settings, as well as in Treatment Programs.

Benefits will be

  • Earlier identification of alcohol and drug problems, leading to less costly early intervention
  • Allows use of Substance Use Disorder Counselors instead of Mental Health Therapists to provide services in clinics and treatment programs for a better use of skills and resources.

Updates Substance Abuse Counselor License

  • Creates two levels of Substance Use Disorder License and a Peer Support Specialist Certification program.
  • Brings profession in line with nationally published standards for Substance Use Disorder Counselors
  • Clarifies scope of work and the substance abuse counselor’s role in the delivery of treatment services
  • Expands practice locations from current statute (licensed Substance Abuse Programs) to locations such as primary health care and aftercare settings that will support earlier identification and less costly interventions

Impact on Current Licensees/students

  • No one loses their license
  • By having Utah’s license law in line with National Standards, will make it easier to transfer a license from State to State.
  • Uses skills for screening and referral in locations where not previously available.  (Primary health clinics)
  • Removes inequities between professions in current Statute (Individuals with training licenses now have a level playing field.  Previously, Associate Marriage and Family Therapists, Psychology Interns and Associate Professional Counselors were excluded from definition of Mental Health Therapist, while Certified Social Workers were included. Inequity was created when statute was created due to the creation of the new licenses).
  • Gives authority to DSAMH to develop standards and training for SA Peer Support Specialist Training and Certification

Benefits are

  • Not a new License, but an education and certification process
  • Peer Support Specialists services are cheaper than those provided by traditional treatment methods;
  • Peer Support Specialists coach, mentor, educate and help prevent relapse and a need to return to expensive services.
  • Proven model across the country and reduces costs in Medicaid and other funding streams
  • Currently using in Mental Health by state of Utah;  and want to expand to Substance Abuse Services as well.