Confidential Associates, LLC
CA Professional Building
1219 Earnest S Brazill St. (S. 12th St.)
Tacoma, WA. 98405

(253) 597-8022




The goal of this publication is to give general information as to what you might expect from your Washington State Licensed Counselor.


Requirements for Licensure

Your counselor must be licensed through the Washington State Department of Health. To become licensed, a person must have completed the following: A master’s or doctorate degree from a program approved by DOH and accredited by nationally recognized standards; An approved exam; 3,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised post-graduate experience; 36 continuing education hours every two years, including six hours of law and ethics. You should ask your counselor if he or she is licensed and discuss his or her qualifications to be your counselor. Counselors practicing counseling for a fee must be licensed with the Department of Licensing for the protection of the public health and safety. A licensed counselor can diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders. In doing so, they may work with individuals, couples, families, groups, and organizations. Goals may include specific behavioral changes, symptom relief, personal growth, and/or the enhancement of well-being. You should be aware that there are other credentialed professionals in the State of Washington that provide counseling services such as certified counselors, certified advisers, or agency affiliated counselors. They are not required to meet the same academic/experience standards.


Client and Counselor Responsibilities and Rights

Your licensed counselor is required by law to provide you with a disclosure statement containing: Qualifications; Education; Areas of expertise; Valid license number; Description of the types of counseling proposed; Explanation of potential risks and benefits of such counseling. If you have concerns about being dependent upon your counselor, talk to him or her about it. Remember, you are going to that person to seek assistance that helps you learn how to control your own life. You can and should ask questions if you don’t fully understand what your counselor is doing or plans to do.



All information needed to provide the counseling service is considered privileged. Your counselor cannot disclose any information you’ve told them during a counseling session except as authorized by RCW 18.19.180, as required by RCW 26.44, or unless:

  • You give written consent;
  • The information concerns certain crimes or harmful acts;
  • The client is a minor and the information acquired by the counselor indicates the minor was the victim or subject of a crime, then the counselor may testify at any proceeding wherein the commission of the crime is the subject of inquiry;
  • You bring charges against the person licensed under the law;
  • The counselor receives a subpoena to provide the information;
  • The counselor has reasonable cause to believe that a child or adult dependent or developmentally disabled person has suffered abuse or neglect. Therapists are required to report such incidents to authorities.

Other exceptions might be for inquiries from your insurance company, for consulting with other healthcare providers, case consultation, or legal/ethical advice.

Assurance of Professional Conduct

Thousands of people in the counseling professions practice their skills with competence and treat their clients in a professional manner. If you and the counselor agree to the course of treatment and the counselor deviates from the agreed treatment, you have the right to question the change and to end the counseling if that seems appropriate to you.

We want you to know that there are acts that would be considered unprofessional conduct. If any of the following situations occur during your course of treatment, you are encouraged to contact the Department of Health at the address or phone number in this publication to find out how to file a complaint against the offending counselor. The following situations are not identified to alarm you, but are identified so you can be an informed consumer of counseling services. The conduct, acts or conditions listed below give you a general idea of the kinds of behavior that could be considered a violation of law.

  • Abuse of a client or sexual contact with a client.
  • Incompetence, negligence or malpractice that harms a client or creates an unreasonable risk of harm to a client.
  • Willful betrayal of a practitioner – client privilege as recognized by law.
  • The commission of any act involving moral turpitude, dishonesty or corruption relating to the practice of counseling. The act does not have to be a crime in order to be a violation of the law regulating counselors.
  • Practicing counseling while suffering from a contagious or infectious disease in a way that would pose a serious risk to public health.
  • Aiding a client to obtain an abortion through illegal means.
  • Possession, use or distribution of drugs except for a legitimate purpose, addiction to drugs or violation of any drug law.
  • Habitual use or impairment from the use of alcohol.
  • Misrepresentation or fraud in any aspect of the conduct of the profession.
  • Advertising that is false, fraudulent or misleading.
  • Offering to treat clients by a secret method, procedure or treatment.
  • Promotion for personal gain of any drug, device, treatment, procedure or service that is unnecessary or has no acceptable benefit to the client.
  • Conviction of any gross misdemeanor or felony relating to the practice of counseling.
  • Violation of a state or federal statute or rule that regulates counselors, including rules defining standards of practice for licensed counselors.
  • Suspension, revocation or restriction on the registration or licensure to practice the profession.
  • Aiding an unlicensed person to practice counseling when that person is required to be licensed.
  • Violation of the rebating laws which includes payment for referral of clients.
  • Interference with an investigation by use of threats or harassment against a client or witness to prevent them from providing evidence in a disciplinary proceeding or other legal action.

If you and your counselor are involved in another relationship, such as a personal friend or a business relationship, you and your counselor should discuss the effect of these multiple relationships on services you may receive and take precautions for your own best interests.

Counseling often deals with difficult and emotional issues. There may be a time when you feel confused or troubled by something that occurs during counseling. You are encouraged to talk about this with your counselor so you can come to a more comfortable resolution.

This publication should not be considered as the final source of information. If you want more information about the law regulating counselors or want to file a complaint, please write to:

Department of Health
Customer Service Center
310 Israel Road S.E.
Tumwater, WA 98501

If you want to contact someone by phone to discuss the law or talk about a possible complaint, call (360) 236-4700 Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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