Proposed Bill Seeks to Increase Veterans’ Access to Marriage and Family Counseling Services

Lawmakers have introduced a new bill to Congress that would make it easier for veterans and their families to see Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs) through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Currently, the VA can hire LMFTs who are licensed through specific programs, including the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) program and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), according to a release by Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA), who introduced the bill to the house.

Still, only therapists licensed through COAMFTE can hold supervisory positions at the VA. However, most LMFTs are not licensed through COAMFTE. This could mean other therapists cannot move up in their careers at the VA. The proposed bill would help eliminate this regulation.


“The current regulations for licensed marriage and family therapists at VA are overly rigorous and are not in line with industry standards, which results in nearly half of all the therapists at the VA to be extremely restricted,” Brownley said in a statement.

“The varied needs of our nation’s veterans and their families must be addressed through the recruitment and retention of highly-qualified professionals. My bill ensures that VA can significantly expand veterans’ access to therapists and that the delivery of quality and timely care continues to be the standard, not the exception.”

Access to LMFTs has increased over the past few years after regulations changed to allow marriage and family therapists and mental health counselors to enroll in Medicare for the first time.


Medicare officials hailed the change as a way to increase access to behavioral health clinicians for its beneficiaries.

“The impact of these changes means that people with Medicare will be able to access Marriage and Family Therapists and Mental Health Counselors for behavioral health treatment, access culturally-sensitive care from community health workers, care navigators, and peer support workers, access primary care where the provider is invested in a long-term, trusting relationship and that caregivers for persons with Medicare will have access to appropriate training,” Dr. Meena Seshamani, CMS deputy administrator and director of the Center for Medicare, said in November.

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