Counselors cheer passage of bill protecting their jobs

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A statue of Gov. Austin Blair is seen outside the Statehouse, Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Lansing, Mich. Work crews are restoring the exterior of the dome's exterior finishes that wasn't completed during the last major restoration completed in 1992. The dome work is expected to last until mid-October and is part of a $6.4 million project that also includes restoration to parts of the building's exterior. All of the work is expected to wrap up sometime in November. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan counselors are cheering after the initial passage of legislation aimed at safeguarding their ability to practice psychotherapy.

The state House voted unanimously this week to advance the bill to the Senate. It would clarify the scope of practice for Michigan’s 10,000 licensed professional counselors.

The measure is a response to a state department’s proposed revision of counseling rules.

A state spokesman says existing law does not give counselors the authority to diagnose and use psychotherapy technique. Counselors say they have been doing so for years, however, and the rule changes would have significant consequences for them and the 150,000 people they serve.

Republican Rep. Aaron Miller of Sturgis, the sponsor of the bill, says it is the “antidote” and a “simple solution” to let counselors continue working.

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