A Statement from Hill Country Therapy
This week the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners voted unanimously to allow social workers to turn away clients based on disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity, reversing board rules that have been in place since 2010. This is a violation to the Code of Ethics for all mental health professions. Most professional mental health associations have codes of ethics or standards that prohibit discrimination in the provision of professional services based upon race, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, disability, marital status, or disability.
Governor Greg Abbott’s interpretation of the law believes that nondiscrimination language is not protected under state law. This is an infringement as mental health professionals have a duty to care that must transcend our personal belief systems. This ruling serves only to create barriers to treatment, foster discrimination, and risk vulnerable populations of people to higher rates of substance use and suicidality. When there is barrier to one vulnerable group, there is barrier to the care of all groups.
Hill Country Therapy is in opposition to this change to the Texas Administrative Code, and we remain committed to supporting safe, affirming, competent, and ethical mental health professionals. Decisions such as these pose a very real threat to the lives of all Texans. Hill Country therapy encourages mental health professionals to challenge their internal biases and to prohibit discrimination rather than foster it.
Prohibition of discrimination leads to education, challenging one’s biases, and transcendence, rather than reinforcing and supporting implicit bias. This does not mean that people have to change their values and beliefs, but that they set them aside for their duty to care in the counselor-client relationship.