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AAMFT Restructure Vote Results Are In

Dear Connecticut Membership;

The results are in from AAMFT’s recent call for partial by-law changes that would include eliminating the state divisions.

The vote DID NOT PASS. This means the vote to eliminate the state divisions did not pass. The result percentages per state were published, and in CT, we were very close to 50% in favor of keeping the CT division intact; while 50% voted for elimination of divisions. Many of the other states were either slightly or significantly in favor of the change, and a few states were strongly opposed. We do not know the total number of voters per state, so we do not yet know what percentage of the CT membership that voted. We do know that AAMFT needed a 2/3 vote (66.6%) to pass and only received 61%.

What does this mean for us here in CT? For now, it means that nothing changes in terms of how your dues are distributed, including day-to-day operations of the Connecticut division. We do anticipate that AAMFT will have a backup plan, which we expect to hear more about at this year’s national conference in Austin, Texas next week, September 3-6, 2015. I am pleased to represent you, along with several of our Board members, as well as our Student Representative. We will gather as much information as possible and share it with you after reviewing at our next Board meeting on September 11, 2015 at Fairfield University.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to talk to all of us on the Board and who contributed to the rich discussions and provided feedback. Thank you for taking the time to vote on this important topic.

Warm regards for a happy fall, and I will be in touch soon.

Kindly,
Heather Ehinger
President, CTAMFT

Heather Ehinger

URGENT: Read before you vote. CT leaders input re: National Vote

Dear Colleagues,

Regarding the AAMFT by-law vote taking place this summer through August 15:

Many of you have asked us our opinions regarding the proposed AAMFT by-law changes. Our division charter limits us as Connecticut Board members to follow AAMFT direction regarding voicing opinions about AAMFT matters. Therefore, we will share how either vote will be likely to play out in Connecticut:

A “yes” vote would eliminate the Connecticut division by ending mandatory dues payments and division leadership, with a transition starting in January 2016. This will mean all leadership authority and fiscal decision-making will be centralized with the national organization with a focus on forming special interest groups.

In the event that CT MFTs choose not to fund local services in any respect, lobbying, employment advocacy, local conferences/CEUs and statewide student/new grad mentoring in Connecticut would end.

We are optimistic, however, that local adaptations are possible, and will consider forming an organization independent from AAMFT to close any gaps in services.

A “no” vote would maintain mandatory local dues payments and fund the services that are currently in place in Connecticut until a new plan is accepted. If a plan for restructuring is re-drawn, we would advocate that it include specifics for all regions that AAMFT serves, regarding ways to:

  • maximize strengths to promote the MFT profession locally
  • include regional leadership roles and information gathering
  • address weaknesses and threats to the MFT profession
  • incorporate fiscal plans for specific regional and lobbying initiatives
  • incorporate service region culture and demographics
  • incorporate future service trends in the MFT profession

We strongly encourage you to check for your AAMFT ballot and control number, emailed May 29, or vote via paper ballot before the vote ends August 15.

We fully support your vote based on your own interpretation of the abundant information shared. For more information, feel free to call work numbers for Heather 203-438-3139 and Denise, at 860-486-2396.

Denise Parent, LMFT                            Heather Ehinger, LMFT, EdD
Rosemarie Coratola, Psy.D., LMFT      Jeffrey Schutz, LMFT, BCN, ORD
Normajean Cefarelli, LMFT                   Wendy Haggerty, LMFT
MaryAnn LaBella, M.A., LMFT              Nicole O’Brien, M.A., Ph.D.
Christine Senu, MFT student

Letter from the President – Facing Organization Changes in the New Year

Denise Parent, LMFT, President of CTAMFT

by Denise Parent, LMFT, President of CTAMFT (president@ctamft.org)

You may have seen, or will begin to see, a number of communications from AAMFT regarding its potential restructuring process, which will be raised for a membership vote in summer 2015. As the Board President, I am committed to sharing what we in Connecticut know, how we understand it, as well as share our opinions.

First, I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to respond to our Connecticut Division Survey this fall regarding your thoughts about a potential restructure. Your input was helpful and has been shared not only with our Board of Directors, but also with the national organization. I am pleased to confirm that the majority of our Connecticut members truly value this division and what we offer our members.

This October, our President-Elect, Heather Ehinger, as well as our Student Directors, Jessica Floyd and Michelle Triompo, attended AAMFT’s Annual Conference and Division Leaders meeting in Wisconsin, where a potential reorganization of AAMFT was discussed.

In short, AAMFT’s Board of Directors voted on the task force recommendation to eliminate the mandatory two-tier dues structure that requires members to pay state division dues in addition to AAMFT national dues. In the proposed restructure, members will pay national dues and then have the option to pay to join an array of special interest groups, which may include regional areas or states, a la carte. It is not clear how many geographic regions will (or won’t) be defined, but AAMFT has said that joining legislative special interest group(s) will be free.

As a Board, we continue to be concerned about what seems to be a lack of an operational plan. We have not received information about how transitions are envisioned, what a new national organization would look like, what special interest groups would be offered, and where and what criteria would be used to define special interest groups or geographic regions.

Most importantly, we don’t know what the strategies are for strong local and national advocacy for the MFT profession throughout the US and Canada – even as AAMFT adds goals for transnational and global outreach. There doesn’t appear to be any collection of data on the professional assets of each unique local division, or consideration of how those assets will be rolled into the larger picture.

One major gap I’d like to share is that a vote to change bylaws under the current regulations excludes student members who represent the millennial demographic (birth year from early 1980s to early 2000s) that AAMFT hopes to engage.

Because of these concerns, we have concluded as a Board that if a bylaw change vote is raised, we will all vote “no.”  This is not because we are against a progressive change that is essential for our professional organization to be innovative, competitive and relevant to the future of mental health services.   Rather, we cannot support change that lacks a plan that is able to provide explicit strategies as to how AAMFT will resource and sustain local attention to the inevitable opportunities and threats that arise and impact Connecticut MFTs.

We believe that all division leaders should be meaningfully utilized in building the future vision. We also believe that the whole membership, including students, should have the opportunity to dialogue and vote on the shape of an organization that has the power to impact their professional lives. As members and funders of the association, we have yet to see information concerning the actual budgeted cost of the proposed transition and how funds in the new organizational structure will be distributed. As such, we feel a lack of essential information in order to exercise our ability to vote on the new bylaws as informed members of our professional organization.

The CTAMFT Board believes strongly that our main focus must still remain on our profession, and we have continued to operate CTAMFT in its full capacity. We will continue to do so, while committing to helping AAMFT to fulfill their responsibilities to our profession, as our national organization.

We hope that the discussion thread taking place in the AAMFT Community will soon be available for all members, so that you may read a variety of Division Leaders perspectives about the restructure in addition to AAMFT’s communications. In the meantime, we will continue to keep our Connecticut members updated. And as always, please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions/comments.

Enjoy the holiday season and I appreciate your time and attention always.

National Conference Update, 2014

Heather MacLetchie Ehinger, President-Elect

Heather Ehinger and Patrick Kennedy

Heather Ehinger (r) pictured with keynote presenter, Patrick Kennedy (l), at AAMFT’s 2014 Annual Conference in Milwaukee, WI

In October, Jessica Floyd (student consultant), Michelle Triompo (student representative) and I attended the AAMFT National Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The theme of the conference was brief solution therapy. The keynote speakers focused primarily on celebrating the lives of the founding mothers and fathers of brief solution therapy, as well as the many small break-out learning opportunities.

As an important side note, Connecticut’s Student Consultant, Jessica Floyd, was presented with the AAMFT Master’s Student Minority Scholarship for 2014. Congrats to her!

As Connecticut Division Leaders, Jessica, Michelle and I attended the Division Leaders Workshop – an annual meeting of leaders from the state divisions. We had the opportunity to spend time with Victor Olsen, former President of CTAMFT and current member of AAMFT’s Board of Directors.

The leadership meeting focused on AAMFT board approval of the director’s recommendation to centralize the organization and eliminate the state divisions. This announcement of the national board approval was followed by a presentation on the recommendations by Tracy Todd (Director of AAMFT), the President Michael Chafin and President-Elect Marvarene Oliver. According to their presentation the primary reason for this proposed change is the future of AAMFT is at risk of becoming “irrelevant,” thus losing substantial membership in the future. The presentation focused on the retirement of the “baby boomers” and the rise of the “millennials.”

The proposal suggests eliminating the state chapters, infusing special interest groups and giving membership a choice. This choice would allow members to participate by joining the national organization with options to participate in the special interest groups. It was explained that regional or even state interest groups may be established. This proposal was approved in hope to increase interest by the “millennials’” need for choice, thus increase their interest in being an involved member.

Overall, during the meeting and during the entire conference, there was a climate of uncertainty and mistrust, although many of the smaller states were enthusiastic about the change due to their struggles to remain productive. During the Q&A that followed the presentation, many of the states expressed their concerns and asked questions that the Board of Directors were unable to answer. Answers to many of the questions included “we will take the vote this summer and figure out the rest later.”

Our Board of Directors in Connecticut has taken notice of this important possible change. Over the next several months, we will research, discuss and plan how to preserve the important work of the CTAMFT, including advocacy, education, communication and connection.

In February, we will be sharing our findings and thoughts. Until then, please contact me (or any board member) if you have any questions or concerns.

Letter from the President – AAMFT Restructure Report

Denise Parent, LMFT, President of CTAMFT

Denise Parent, LMFT, President of CTAMFT

by Denise Parent, LMFT, President of CTAMFT (president@ctamft.org)

Hello everybody, welcome back, after one of the most gorgeous summers I can remember!

Both AAMFT and CTAMFT have been busy! Stay tuned for our September E-News, which is coming out shortly. In the meantime, we feel it’s important to discuss the many changes underway at AAMFT, which will certainly impact us on a local/CT division level. I encourage you to please read this closely and share your thoughts with us, as well as AAMFT.

It is our understanding that next month, AAMFT’s restructuring task force (or DASC), is likely to recommend that AAMFT move toward centralizing services at AAMFT in order to create a more uniform MFT “brand.” We believe that AAMFT is heading toward creating a structure similar to the American Counseling Association (ACA) in which members will be invited to join the national organization and optional practice specialty groups – eliminating geographic divisions like CTAMFT.

AAMFT’s rationale is that in order to adapt to changing membership demographics, service inequities from state-to-state, and to address the needs of the future – structural change is necessary. Any changes will likely take four to six years to realize, and will depend on an AAMFT Board vote this October, followed up by a full membership vote in order to change the AAMFT bylaws.

The logistical process of any change has not yet been discussed. These decisions will create the organization that represents our profession in the coming years. The CTAMFT Board and the five MFT academic programs in Connecticut feel strongly that no matter what structure is decided upon, there needs to be a strong association presence locally for employment advocacy/legislation, as well as support for students, new professionals and clinical members as they navigate their careers.

On behalf of CTAMFT, I strongly encourage you to share your thoughts with the AAMFT task force (DASC) via their Community Forum.

Furthermore, we’d like you to share your opinions with us at CTAMFT. Please link here (https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8FTCBTT) for a short (we promise!) survey. The intent is to learn from you the local services you count on and value as members of CTAMFT. Your opinion counts and we’re hopeful you will take a few minutes to respond.

In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact us at CTAMFT. I can be reached at president@ctamft.org.

Letter from the President: AAMFT Restructuring Update

by Denise Parent, LMFT, President of CTAMFT (president@ctamft.org)

Denise Parent, LMFT, President of CTAMFT

Denise Parent, LMFT, President of CTAMFT

At our recent conference, we received several questions about AAMFT’s Division restructuring process.  Most recently, you received a survey from AAMFT about this subject. The CTAMFT Board is receiving information at the same time as you are, so we are processing this as well. Our understanding is that this restructuring would change the state “division” structure, possibly replacing it with “chapters,” “specialty” groups, or regionalizing etc.

The short version, after the Board’s thorough review of the AAMFT documents and discussion, is that AAMFT’s goal is to find the correct organizational structure for AAMFT to a.) Participate effectively in the greater mental health delivery system (i.e., remain “relevant”), and b.) Offer high-quality member benefits in a “transnational environment.”

aamft

 

 

Issues AAMFT raised are as follows:

  • Inconsistent member benefits across states based on the size of membership and local volunteer interest, create divisions that “have” and “have not.”
  • The possible retirement of many of the current Clinical Fellow population means potential for substantial loss of dues revenue in the next 10 years.
  • The new smaller cohort of “millennial” Clinical Fellows coming up are anticipated as being more diverse, nationally and globally mobile and tech savvy, with different needs –  possibly finding state division and council of division presidents structure bureaucratic.
  • The cost of AAMFT dues are approximately twice that of sister organizations.
  • Many states experience inconsistent interest and performance in division management issues like finance, conference event planning and legislative advocacy.

Connecticut has always had a reputation as a legislatively active, innovative and fiscally responsible division that can pull off a great conference. We strongly support student “millennials” through their travels to licensure and highly value our established clinical members of all ages. We believe that AAMFT has to have a strong national presence for important federal initiatives like Medicare, and items that cross over state lines, like interstate license portability. We also feel that there is an equally strong need to build local relationships for legislative and professional advocacy, as well as support members in strong networking/educational opportunities, new professionals mentoring, state-specific communications and “in person” contact.

AAMFT will convene a meeting with an Association Consultant and a task force with a mix of invited division leaders from larger and smaller divisions in August. I was told at the Division Leaders meeting in March that any decisions regarding this would depend on task force discussion and will take at least three years to implement. Victor Olsen, a Connecticut-based LMFT and a member of the AAMFT Board, has been invited to participate in the task force, while Nancy Knudsen, President of the Massachusetts Division, will represent the New England states and voice the needs of smaller divisions.

As a Board, we hope that we have struck a good balance in Connecticut and hope that there will be strong national and local presence in whatever new structure is chosen.  In spite of the lengthy material we have received from AAMFT, it is hard to speculate how this will roll out in Connecticut.  It seems that there is an inclination toward financial management and strategic planning taking place at the national, rather than local level, but we can’t be sure.

We will stay alert to the process and be vocal about promoting the field of MFT, which we see as the Association’s chief responsibility, both nationally and locally.  If you have further questions or comments, please feel free to email.  Our Board is preparing comments to submit to the task force at their August meeting and would be happy to hear your thoughts.

I look forward to hearing from any of you with questions or comments.  I can be reached at president@ctamft.org.

Medicare Update

As we have welcomed 2014, CTAMFT has received several inquiries about Medicare reimbursement.

Please note that MFTs unfortunately still are not eligible to receive reimbursement for services for clients on Medicare under federal law.

By law (Sec. 1861(s) of the Social Security Act), specific types of clinicians may be determined eligible for Medicare Part B coverage only upon statutory (Congressional) enactment of an amendment to that law Section. Medicare Part B coverage for independent-practice MFTs passed the US Senate in 2003 and 2005, and the US House in 2007 and 2009 – but not the other Chamber at those times.

This has been an important issue for both AAMFT and CTAMFT for years.

We have received positive news that the Department of Social Services (DSS) is considering adding MFT reimbursement to more of their Medicaid plans, aimed at increasing access to quality mental health providers for their clients. This helps to support our goal of eventually achieving Medicare reimbursement.

AAMFT is working diligently to push forward a Medicare MFT coverage bill (S-562), which has 11 bipartisan sponsors. Representative Gibson (R-NY), along with some Democratic cosponsors plan to introduce a House “companion” to this bill.

You can help! Please urge your members of Congress to support S-562, Medicare MFT coverage. It’s simple! Just click here.