Governmental & Institutional Oversight
Most states, including Florida, closely regulate the addiction treatment industry – and rightly so. The purpose of regulation is to protect those who are at their most vulnerable from counselors and practices that may take advantage of them. Further, these regulations offer counselor and client alike the clarity that they need to understand what is and isn’t generally appropriate in the treatment setting.
Governmental oversight can become confusing when counselors have to be aware of many bodies – each with their own set of standards and principles. For example, the average counselor may be regulated by the center’s management, local, state and federal laws as well as regulations imposed by private or public oversight entities. The more of these entities that regulate a counselor, the more convoluted the requirements can get. This is a constant challenge for addiction counselors who, many times, must make important, sometimes life or death decisions, on the spot. It also highlights the need for continuous counselor growth; through education and experience.
The importance of documentation when it comes to oversight cannot be overstated. Documentation is the basis by which we as counselors can track and present information that may be pertinent during an audit, dispute or legal proceeding. While documentation for a counselor may seem like a waste of time, it is critically important. We hope that we will never need our documents for legal reasons, but if a dispute should happen, we’ll be happy we had them.
Ultimately, you must be aware of which organizations and institutions regulate what you do in your job and in your state. In cases of conflicting information, speak to the relevant bodies and to your clinical director. Chances are that there is some precedent for the problem you are facing and that means an answer is not far away.