SUMMARY OF: A Sunset Review of the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, Board of Marital and Family Therapy, November 1, 2004.

Purpose of the Report

In accordance with Title 24 and Title 44 of the Alaska Statutes, we have reviewed the activities of the Board of Marital and Family Therapy (BMFT). As required by state law, the legislative committees of reference are to consider this report when determining whether to extend the termination date for BMFT. Currently under AS 08.03.010(c)(11), the board will terminate on June 30, 2005. If the legislature does not extend the termination date for the board, BMFT will have one year to conclude its administrative operations.

Report Conclusions

In addition to developing our conclusion regarding extending the termination date for BMFT, we also analyzed the operating costs and other factors related to the operations of the board. Various nonfinancial factors were considered in order to assess the advisability of consolidating BMFT with other behavioral health boards, along the lines suggested in the 2002 letter of intent. Further discussion of our conclusions follows.

BMFT should be consolidated with the Board of Professional Counselors

In our opinion, BMFT should not be reestablished by the legislature. Rather, we recommend the licensing of qualified professionals be continued through consolidation with the Board of Professional Counselors (BPC). Our recommendation is based upon the following factors:

  1. Number of BMFT licensees has significantly declined.
  2. Some BMFT licensees hold licenses with other boards.
  3. Scope of practice and educational requirements are similar for therapists and counselors.
  4. Survey results show mixed reactions to consolidating boards.
  5. BMFT is in a chronic-deficit position.
  6. Combination of these two professions under a single board is the most common regulatory model.

The new consolidated board should be established for four years.

In our opinion, the termination date for the consolidated board covering marital and family therapists, along with professional counselors, should be established for June 30, 2009. Both boards have been actively working in the public’s interest by promoting the competence of individuals who hold themselves out to the public as marital and family therapists or professional counselors.

BMFT has testified in favor of statutory changes and adopted regulatory changes that made therapists more accountable to their clients and the general public. The board has also substantially curtailed its operating costs, in an attempt to minimize its current negative balance position.

Alaska Statute 08.03.010(c)(11) requires BMFT to be terminated on June 30, 2005. If the legislature takes no action, under AS 08.03.020, the board has a one-year period to administratively conclude its affairs. We recommend the legislature combine BMFT with BPC and the consolidated board’s termination date be set at June 30, 2009.

If the legislature elects not to consolidate the board, we recommend the Board of Marital and Family Therapy be extended to June 30, 2010.

Findings and Recommendations

  1. The Board of Marital and Family Therapy and Board of Professional Counselors should be combined into a single oversight and licensing board.
  2. The Division of Occupational Licensing (OccLic), in conjunction with the Board of Marital and Family Therapy, should increase licensing fees to eliminate the board’s current and projected operating deficit.

At the end of FY 04, BMFT had an operating deficit of more than $75,000. Based on expenditures and revenues to date, we project that it is likely BMFT will, again, be in a deficit at the end of FY 05.

BMFT has reduced its direct operating costs to less than $10,000 in FY 04 compared to more than the $20,000 incurred for both FY 03 and FY 02.

  1. The Office of the Governor should take steps to make the necessary appointments to keep the Board of Marital and Family Therapy at full membership.