UPDATE: Counselors cheer passage of bill protecting their jobs

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LANSING, MI (WILX) -- Michigan counselors are cheering after the initial passage of legislation aimed at safeguarding their ability to practice psychotherapy.

People wait in line to have a chance Friday morning to make their concerns heard about new licensing rules that could have an impact on mental health care. (Source WILX)

The state House has unanimously approved a bill that allows counselors to diagnose and treat their clients.
The bill now goes to the Senate.

It would clarify the scope of practice for Michigan's 10,000 licensed professional counselors.

The measure is a response to a state department's proposed revision of counseling rules.

A state spokesman says existing law does not give counselors the authority to diagnose and use psychotherapy technique.

Counselors say they have been doing so for years, however, and the rule changes would have significant consequences for them and the 150,000 people they serve.

Republican Rep. Aaron Miller of Sturgis, the sponsor of the bill, says it is the "antidote" and a "simple solution" to let counselors continue working.

More than one thousand counselors flooded a hearing last week in protest of rule changes by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

Counselors say the change could prevent them from treating thousands of people with mental illness and substance use problems.

House Bill 4325 would let counselors to keep practicing.

Copyright 2019 WILX. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.