The Board of Behavioral Health Examiners was established in1988 to regulate the practice of behavioral health professions. Current statutory authority is found in A.R.S. §§ 32-3251 through 32-3321.
The Board of Behavioral Health Examiners (Board) was established in 1988 to establish and maintain standards regarding qualifications, scope of practice and performance for behavioral health professionals for the protection of the public. The Board licenses social workers, counselors, marriage and family therapists, and substance abuse counselors; investigates and resolves complaints; and disciplines violators. The Board currently consists of eight professional members and four public members, appointed by the Governor to three-year terms.
Established in 1988, the Board consisted of nine members to provide voluntary certification to behavioral health professionals in social work, counseling, and marriage and family therapy. Credentialing committees were established for each profession. Laws 1988, Chapter 313 created the Board and credentialing committees, outlined their responsibilities, and described the process of certification. The measure addressed scope of practice, certificate renewal, continuing education requirements, fees, reciprocity, enforcement, hearings, penalties and appeals. It also established specific requirements for social workers, counselors, and marriage and family therapists.
Laws 1989, Chapter 296 added substance abuse counseling as a behavioral health profession, established a credentialing committee for substance abuse counseling and treatment, and outlined qualifications for a person to provide substance abuse counseling services. (Note: This was a broad measure which also established the Board of Occupational Therapy Examiners.)
Laws 1991, Chapter 253 modified requirements for certification as a professional counselor and allowed the Board to waive examination requirements for certified baccalaureate social workers, certified substance abuse counselors, or certified marriage and family therapists as long the applicant met other credentialing requirements.
Laws 1992, Chapter 359 increased Board membership by adding an additional public member and modified the number of members on the substance abuse credentialing committee. The measure also added certified associate counselor and certified associate marriage and family therapist to regulated behavioral health professions and established certification requirements.
Laws 1998, Chapter 25 increased the number of public Board members from four to eight.
In 2002, the Legislature received a request from the Arizona Behavioral Health Professionals Coalition to convert voluntary certification of behavioral health professionals to mandatory licensure. The Senate Health and House Health Committee of Reference (COR) met on November 21, 2002 to consider the sunrise application and voted to recommend to the full Legislature licensure of behavioral health professionals. Note: “Sunrise Review” is a legislative process, used to consider requests from health professions for legislation or for an expansion in scope of practice. See Sunrise review of behavioral health professionals, LG 9.2:B 34/2002 at Arizona State Library
In response to the COR recommendation, Laws 2003, Chapter 65 established licensing requirements for social workers, counselors, marriage and family therapists, and substance abuse counselors who practice psychotherapy. The omnibus measure also reduced the number of Board members from 16 to 8; modified qualifications and duties for the Board and the credentialing committees; outlined qualifications to obtain and renew a license; required an applicant to submit fingerprints for a state and federal criminal history records check; addressed scope of practice for behavioral health professionals; outlined disciplinary actions, hearings and penalties; and provided for revocation and suspension of licenses. The measure authorized the Board to transfer current certificate holders to licensure status. Transition provisions for alcohol and drug abuse counselors were addressed separately.
Laws 2006, Chapter 291 established a timeframe for the Board to make a decision on an application for a license; modified the process for handling a complaint; and revised confidentiality requirements.
Laws 2008, Chapter 70 continued the Board until July 1, 2013 and required the Auditor General to conduct a performance audit by September 1, 2012. The report, dated August 31, 2012, recommended the Board implement processes to handle complaints in a timely manner. See Arizona Auditor General Report No. 12-03.
A second measure enacted in 2008 established a maximum fee of $500 for a license, limited annual fee increases to $25, and modified requirements for a reciprocal license. See Laws 2008, Chapter 134.
Laws 2013, Chapter 242 repealed credentialing committees and allowed the Board to establish academic review committees; modified Board membership and duties; established the position of executive director; replaced a reciprocal license with a license by endorsement and modified license requirements. The measure included other modifications relating to licensing requirements and disciplinary actions and required quarterly progress reports to the Legislature and Auditor General on implementation progress. The measure also created the Task Force on Patient Consent and Documentation Best Practices. The Task Force report, including recommendations, was required to be provided to the Governor and Legislature by March 31, 2014.
Laws 2015, Chapter 154 required the Board to establish academic review committees, rather than allowing the Board to do so (as prescribed by 2013 legislation). The measure also allowed the executive director to dismiss a complaint and required the Board to adopt rules regarding the use of telepractice.
Laws 2017, Chapter 327 required potential Board members to submit a full set of fingerprints to the Governor before appointment, for purposes of conducting a state and federal criminal records check.
Laws 2018, Chapter 55 modified requirements to receive a license by endorsement, particularly for those behavioral health care professionals who are licensed by and have worked in another state. A second measure enacted in 2018 requires the Board to research and compare licensing requirements of other states, and after consulting with stakeholders and licensees, recommend ways to reduce administrative burdens for applicants, streamline the application process and reduce costs to obtain a license. A report of findings and recommendations is due by December 31, 2018. See Laws 2018, Chapter 241.
Laws 2019, Chapter 195 allowed the Board to authorize its executive director to issue licenses, certifications, registrations, preceptorships, reinstatements and waivers to eligible applicants who meet the requirements identified in the statute. The measure also addressed temporary licenses. Section 32-3124.I states: “This section applies to a health profession regulatory board to the extent that this section does not conflict with the board’s current statutory authority relating to temporary licensure.” https://www.azleg.gov/legtext/54Leg/1R/laws/0195.pdf The Board may adopt rules to carry out the new provisions.
A second enactment in 2019 requires the Board to regulate the unauthorized practice of the profession by investigating complaints and referring verified complaints to the county attorney or attorney general for prosecution. See Laws 2019, Chapter 227.
- Arizona Revised Statutes §§32-3251 et seq.
- Arizona Administrative Code R4-6-101 et seq.
- Session Laws
- Laws 1988, Chapter 313
- Laws 1989, Chapter 296
- Laws 1991, Chapter 253
- Laws 1992, Chapter 359
- Laws 1998, Chapter 25
- Laws 2003, Chapter 65
- Laws 2006, Chapter 291
- Laws 2008, Chapter 70 and Chapter 134
- Laws 2013, Chapter 242
- Laws 2015, Chapter 154
- Laws 2017, Chapter 327
- Laws 2018 Chapter 55 and Chapter 241
- Laws 2019, Chapter 195 and Chapter 227
Arizona Auditor General Report No. 12-03
Sunrise Application of the Behavioral Health Coalition of Southern Arizona, 2007
Senate Health and House Health Committee of Reference: Sunrise hearing of Behavioral Health Examiners. Minutes of Meeting, Thursday November 21 2002. Senate Resource Center: Arizona State Senate, Phoenix AZ.
See at Arizona State Library: Sunrise review of behavioral health professionals, LG 9.2:B 34/2002