Op-Ed: Petition to Governor Jerry Brown Regarding the Intern Hours Verification Process Jenny Kepler, MFT Registered Intern

September 22, 2013 1:35 PM | Admin EBCAMFT
Editor: A few weeks ago I received an email from a colleague containing a link for a petition related to the amount of time it took for the BBS to review interns' hours, allowing them to take the licensing exams. I contacted the petition's author, Jenny Kepler for information on her motivation and hope behind the petition. Here's her response:

Jenny Kepler: I want to convey how unfair it is that after the years of school, training and interning we do (the 3000 usually takes 3 years to attain), the BBS makes us wait at times up to 8 months to approve us to sit for the exam.  We put in so much time and energy, working for nothing or very low wages (I have 2 kids, I could never support them on intern wages on my own) despite our professional level of education.  During the time it takes the BBS to approve our hours, we continue to work for free or low wages, pay for supervision and be denied access to the professional status we have earned - even though we have completed our training.  We work in agencies, seeing really hard clients.  We do the jobs that people further along in their professional paths often opt out of.  We do this because we are passionate about our work and its value to society.  We deserve to be valued for our commitment, not punished.  We deserve a license as soon as possible.
 
The application itself says that approval should take 4-6 weeks.  While the hours approval is very important, there are many ways that the BBS could streamline it for us.  Since I started this petition I have heard so many horror stories about people who've waited all this time just to be told they are missing a signature or a class.  They could have taken care of those issues while they waited for their hours to be approved.  Now how much longer must these folks wait?  Surely, the State of California has the technology and the funds to make this process more efficient.
 
I hear that many interns drop off the licensing track since they can't afford to work for such low pay without family support, independent wealth or a second  or third job for so long. I wonder how this impacts the socio-economic range of diversity of the licensed population.
 
It's not just interns that suffer because of this archaic system.  Clients suffer too, as agencies often can't  hire therapists without licenses, clients must wait in line.  As ObamaCare rolls out and more people will be able to access mental health services I imagine this will only get worse.  Unless the BBS makes a change.

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I received my bachelor's degree in modern literature from UCSC in 1995 and master's degree from CIIS in 2011.  I have worked in the food, wine and travel industries, and more recently have been a doula and a therapist.  I have been with Through the Looking Glass in Berkeley providing parent/infant therapy with their Early Head Start program since 2012.  

Notes:

To access and sign the petition, please visit:
http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/governor-jerry-brown-6? source=s.icn.em.mt&r_by=8554288

The full text of the petition:

Petition Statement

We are dedicated and have worked hard to prepare ourselves to serve California’s growing mental health needs. MFT interns should be able to take the licensing exam within a reasonable amount of time so we can get to work providing these much needed services.

Petition Background

It takes Marriage and Family Therapist interns like me years to complete our licensing requirements, including our 3000 supervised clinical hours. After we’ve met these requirements, the Board of Behavioral Sciences currently takes 7+ months to verify our hours, simply because they are understaffed. Hiring just one more employee at the BBS would make an enormous difference in the lives of interns who are forced to wait almost a whole year despite being basically license-ready.

To check on important updates from the BBS, please check their site regularly: http://www.bbs.ca.gov/. It appears that they are in the process of switching to online license and renewal applications, however it isn't clear whether they are including the hours verification process in this new system. You can read more about BreEZe here: http://www.dca.ca.gov/about_dca/breeze/index.shtml

The site currently states:  IMPORTANT MESSAGE FOR RENEWING LICENSE APPLICANTS:
Please complete your applications prior to September 15, 2013 in order to avoid delays.

The Department of Consumer Affairs will be transitioning to the new BreEZe online licensing and enforcement system in early October. During this transition, there will be temporary disruptions in cashiering and other services.

If your license renewal date is anytime in September or October, these disruptions could affect you.

Please renew your license early! Do not wait and risk a late renewal!

Examination candidates whose test eligibility expires late September and early October may also be affected.  Please submit your application prior to September 10, 2013 to avoid delays.
 

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