Senate Bill 491, which may soon be subject to a vote by the entire Senate committee on Health Care and Human Services on Thursday, might allow licensed professional counselors and marriage and family therapists to treat teenagers age 14 and older without their parents’ consent. Those teenagers may turn to a licensed doctor, psychologist, nurse practitioner or clinical social worker without their parents’ approval, but the list does not include counselors and therapists in the private practice.
Wendy Curtis, a licensed professional counselor, told lawmakers during a hearing that, in a number of cases, her teen clients struggling with addiction were being enabled in their addiction by their own parents.
Curtis and Larry Conner, who were also licensed professionals, testified before lawmakers said that suicide remains the leading cause of death among Oregonians ages 10 through 24. They quoted a report from 2007 that says nearly one in every 12 eight-grade students and one in 16 eleventh graders reported attempting suicide within the previous months.
Supporters say that the bill is especially important to teens in rural areas where access to mental health care professionals is limited.