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More Information on TRICARE
The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) worked with other counseling organizations for over 10 years to obtain independent practice for counselors under TRICARE, the health care program for active and retired service members and their families. Not only did the lack of independent practice recognition subject counselors to unnecessary and wasteful physician supervision requirements, it also created problems for counselors seeking employment throughout the Department of Defense (DOD), as other programs base their hiring on TRICARE regulations.
The effort encompassed several bills, two laws (public law 110-181 and public law 111-383) and two federally mandated studies, including the Institute of Medicine’s Provision of Mental Health Counseling Services Under TRICAREand a report by the RAND Corporation. After further advocacy by NBCC, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2011 directed the DOD to establish requirements for counselor independent practice under TRICARE. While Congress mandated that the DOD establish such requirements by June of that year, it left the specifics to the DOD. In December 2011, the DOD finally released an interim final rule establishing these requirements.
Credentialing for the newly created provider category—TRICARE certified mental health counselor (TCMHC)—began mid-2012 and is administered by four separate TRICARE regional contractors: North, South, West, and Overseas.
Find your TRICARE region and your regional contractor’s contact information.
TRICARE Independent Practice Requirements
The TRICARE interim final rule includes a transition period through December 31, 2014. The requirements to become a TRICARE certified mental health counselor are more flexible during the transition period.
During the transition period, a counselor can obtain the TCMHC classification with a mental health counseling degree from a program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and passage of the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) or a non-CACREP mental health counseling degree and a passing score on the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE).
Beginning on January 1, 2015, an individual must pass the NCMHCE and possess a degree from a CACREP-accredited mental health counseling program, as well as meet all other requirements.
For complete requirements or to apply for TCMHC recognition, contact your TRICARE regional contractor. To assist counselors in meeting the independent practice requirements, NBCC established a military health systems examination registration option.