LANSING, Mich. – There's deep concern across the state Friday for Michigan's licensed professional counselors.
For the past two years, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has been looking at the way it does business, and it's considering massive changes. That prompted a day of impassioned testimony in Lansing.
More than 1,000 people who either use counselors or make their living helping others cope came from all across Michigan. For eight hours, they told the LARA hearing board they don't want the changes to diagnosis and psychoanalysis rules.
Kim Stagg was one resident who attended the hearing. She said her counselor saved her life through a depression diagnosis.
"I wouldn't have been able to talk to her about it at all (with the new rules)," Stagg said. "I was having suicidal ideations and I don't know that I would have made it through that time if not for the help I got from her to walk through that process."
Professionals lined up to say the rule changes bring serious and unintended consequences.
Dr. Tezonia Morgan, a counselor at Spring Arbor University, told Local 4 the new rules would put 10,000 licensed professional counselors out of business, leaving clients on a dark path.
"We will have a lot of clients without a counselor, and then look for the depression and suicide rate to skyrocket," Morgan said.
"The people that serve nearly 150,000 of them, plus that, would be without a provider, and that would create complete chaos," said Napoleon Harrington, who runs the Michigan Mental Health Counselor Association.
Local reach contacted LARA several times Friday to get a clearer understanding of its position. It has said in the past that it is actually looking to protect Michigan residents by limiting the scope of counselors who might not be trained for diagnosis.