Law, rules and regulations, not guidelines, specify the requirements for practice and violating them constitutes professional misconduct. Not adhering to this guideline may be interpreted as professional misconduct only if the conduct also violates pertinent law, rules and regulations, some citations of which are listed at the end of this guideline.
Guideline 6: Delegation of Professional Practice to Authorized Persons
Practice as a mental health practitioner is defined in the Education Law and restricted to individuals licensed in those professions. The law defines exempt persons, including individuals licensed in similar professions that are authorized to provide mental health services, students in registered education programs, and individuals under a limited permit issued by the Education Department, who can provide services that would otherwise be restricted to licensees. Exempt persons cannot use a professional title restricted to licensees.
As a licensed mental health practitioner, you may not delegate to an unlicensed person any activities that are defined as the practice of your profession and which can only be performed by a licensed or exempt person, even when the unlicensed person is under your supervision.
A person not licensed or otherwise authorized under the Education Law may perform only those functions that any unlicensed person could perform, such as assisting a patient in completing a form or assessment and a patient history.
If you are supervising a student in an approved education program or an individual with a limited permit to practice your profession, you may not delegate tasks that the person is not qualified by training, education or experience to perform. If you delegate tasks that are beyond the competence of the person you are supervising, charges of unprofessional conduct could be brought against you and the supervisee under the Education Law and Regents Rules.
Before delegating a task to a student in an approved education program or an individual with a limited permit, you should consider several factors, including the following.
The tasks you assign to the student or permit holder should be based on instructions you provide in the course of the procedure. You should be certain that the task is within the abilities of the student or permit holder and it may be necessary for you to remain in the office where the services are being performed. If you do not participate in the treatment of the patient, it may be advisable to meet with the patient who received services from the student or permit holder, depending on the training and competence of the student or permit holder.
Although tasks may be delegated to a student in an approved education program or an individual holding a limited permit, you should ensure that the person is appropriately trained or authorized to provide the task.
You are responsible and accountable for services performed by an individual under your supervision. Education Law prohibits a licensed professional from permitting, aiding or abetting an unlicensed individual to perform tasks that require a professional license, even one authorized under the Education Law such as a student in an approved education program or a limited permit holder.
If a student in an approved program or an individual with a limited permit is providing services under your supervision, you should consider how to refer to the student or permit holder. You should communicate clearly to the patient the qualifications, title, and responsibility of the student or permit holder, including your role as supervisor, to avoid misunderstanding of the relationship between you, the supervisee and the patient.
Citations of Pertinent Law, Rules or Regulations:
- Education Law, section 6509(2) - incompetence and negligence
- Education Law, section 6509(7) - permitting unlicensed practice
- Education Law, section 6509(9) - unprofessional conduct
- Education Law, section 6512 - unauthorized practice a crime
- Education Law, section 6513 - unauthorized use of a professional title a crime
- Regents Rules, part 29.1(b)(9) - practicing beyond competency and without adequate supervision
- Regents Rules, part 29.1(b)(10) - improper delegation of duties
- Regents Rules, part 29.2(a)(5) - failing to supervise appropriately
- Education Law, section 8402(2) - practice of mental health counseling
- Education Law, section 8403(2) - practice of marriage and family therapy
- Education Law, section 8404(2) - practice of creative arts therapy
- Education Law, section 8405(2) - practice of psychoanalysis
- Education Law, section 8410(3) - exemptions