Client Centered Advocacy

So what is client centered advocacy? Great question! The California Board of Behavioral Sciences who oversees the work of licensed and prelicensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT, MFT, MFTI, MFT Interns) says this:

"CCA is defined in Business and Professions Code (BPC) Section 4980.34(h) as including, but
not limited to “researching, identifying, and accessing resources, or other activities, related to
obtaining or providing services and supports for clients or groups of clients receiving
psychotherapy or counseling services.” 

So it sounds pretty straightforward right? If you are giving someone counseling, and you spend time outside of session on resources relating to your client- that times counts. Examples of this may be:

  • Calling local food shelters to find out about the requirements and programs.
  • Calling local therapists to find sliding scale or pro-bono therapy for a client who needs specialized services.
  • Going to a local food community service agency to research, or actually provide services.
  • and the list goes on...

So why is this is so confusing? That is even easier!

  1. It's new.
  2. It's left up to supervisor's discretion.
  3. It's new.

The biggest issue with the interpretation of this law is that it is new. Whenever we have something new and different it is both exciting and anxiety provoking. We want to understand it completely, and sometimes, we just don't!

More importantly, it is left up to individual clinical supervisors discretion of what they will sign off on. Now, your clinical supervisor is (probabably) not trying to make you crazy if they are conservative in their interpretation. Most of them are just trying to make sure that they don't assume to much and leave you in a place where your hours wouldn't be counted.

Researching, identifying, or accessing resources is a pretty broad standard. As long as it is related to your work with counseling clients- it probably falls under the umbrella. However, you always want to be respectful to your clinical supervisor. Here are some general recommendations I would make to avoid any issues regarding counting CCA:

  1. Note the specific CCA in a client file. You may have several clients who are looking for food or clothing referrals or employment resources. Start making CCA as a client contact and write in "researched (or identified, or accessed) resources for counseling client" and put the reason why if you choose. This is a great way to beef up your clinical note taking and limit liability as well.
  2. When presenting to your clinical supervisor, be specific on what you did or why you did it.
  3. If your clinical supervisor is unsure of what CCA is, bring in the FAQs here- so they have something tangible from the board to use for guidance. 

Still having difficulty resolving this with your supervisor due to different interpretations? If you are early on in your hours gathering- don't worry! You will have more than enough time to max out this section- even if your supervisor is being conservative.

Are you at the end of your process where a difference of opinion might mean the difference of a month or two (or three) of clinical work? Might be time to schedule a coaching call with yours truly so you can make a plan that protects your working relationship, your reputation, and gets you moving down the path to licensure!



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