State Board of Addiction Counselor Examiners: News

Emotional Support Animal Recommendations Require Bonafide Provider-Patient Relationship

A bona fide provider-patient relationship should exist between a licensed healthcare professional and an individual seeking an emotional support animal (ESA) for therapeutic benefit prior to the issuance of a recommendation letter in Colorado. This bona fide provider-patient relationship is defined in the mental health, medical and nursing practice acts. 

Healthcare professionals must first establish whether a disability exists and if found, determine whether there is sufficient information for a recommednation for an ESA to provide a therapeutic benefit for that disability. In order to make such determinations, licensees must be both sufficiently familiar with the patient and the patient’s disability; and legally and professionally qualified to make this determination.

Nursing and mental health law (Section 12-255-133(3)(a) and 12-245-229(3)(a) Colorado Revised Statutes) further clarifies  that “a licensee shall not make a determination … unless the licensee has met with the patient in person.” Registered nurses are permitted to issue ESA recommendations but must be under the direct supervision of a licensed physician. 

Physicians shouldn’t make a determination unless having “met with the person or by telemedicine,” according to 12-240-144(3)(a), C.R.S.

Healthcare practitioners under the purview of Division of Professions and Occupations must follow all applicable laws for those seeking an assistance animal.

An ESA is an animal that provides a therapeutic benefit, such as emotional support, comfort, or companionship, to a person with a mental health or psychiatric disability. An ESA is not considered a Service Animal and ESA users don’t receive the same accommodations as service dog users.

 ESAs don’t perform specific tasks related to the person’s disability, instead, it is the presence of the animal that relieves the symptoms associated with the serious mental health condition. This condition is documented by a properly formatted prescription letter.


HB22-1299 License Registration Fee Relief for Mental Health Professionals



Mental/Behavioral Health Parity



Revised Rules Effective May 30, 2021

Revised rules for the State Board of Addiction Counselor Examiners went into effect on May 30, 2021. The revisions to Rule 1.6 implemented Colorado House Bill 19-1129; and revisions to Rules 1.12, 1.23, and Appendix A, corrected language in the rules that conflicted with portions of the statutes in Colorado House Bill 20-1326 and Colorado Senate Bill 20-102 (sections 12-20-202(3) and 12-30-115, C.R.S.).

To view the details of this rulemaking project and track all rule changes, see Tracking Number 2021-00146. The Board encourages all licensees and stakeholders to read the revised and published Rules 1.6, 1.12, 1.23 and Appendix A. Please direct any questions to dora_mentalhealthboard@state.co.us.  


HB20-1206, Concerning the Continuation of Regulation of Mental Health Professionals

The Division of Professions and Occupations (DPO), within the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), has been provided the authority by the Colorado State Legislature to create the Mental Health Disciplinary Record Work Group. The Work Group will examine the state’s rules and policies with regard to the retention and use of certain kinds of disciplinary records as it relates to licensing of mental health professionals in the state. The Work Group, created by House Bill 20-1206, will meet throughout the Fall and Winter of 2020, and will make recommendations to the Governor, the Executive Director of DORA and the health committees in the House and Senate about any potential changes the Work Group identifies. 


Division Convenes Work Group to Study Disciplinary Records Retention in the Mental Health Professions

Pursuant to House Bill 20-1206 (HB-1206) “Sunset Mental Health Professionals”, the Division of Professions and Occupations (Division) has convened the Mental Health Records Retention Workgroup, to study, take public comment on, and make recommendations with respect to how the Division handles and uses certain disciplinary records in its licensing decisions, and how & when those records are made public. 

The Work Group will meet several times throughout the fall and winter of 2020, with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) facilitating, and will make its final recommendations to the General Assembly, Governor, and the Division by January 1, 2021. 

The following individuals have been appointed to be Voting Members of the Work Group:

  • Ronne Hines, Director, Division of Professions and Occupations
  • Senator Brittany Pettersen (D-22) 
  • Sen. Cheri Jahn (Ret.)
  • Felicidad Fraser-Solak
  • Brian Gonzales
  • Angela Green
  • Terri Hurst
  • Mita Johnson
  • Tim Ranney
  • Ana Vizoso

The Work Group is currently scheduled to meet on the following dates, with additional meeting dates added as necessary:

  • September 17, 2020, from Noon to  2:30 p.m., Agenda, Presentation
  • October 19, 2020, from 2-5 p.m., Agenda, Presentation
  • The work group will meet as subcommittees, November 5, 2020, from Noon to 3:00 p.m., Agenda
  • November 19, 2020, from 1-4 p.m., Agenda
  • December 10, 2020 from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m.. Agenda

As part of the Division's outreach efforts to the public, the Division hosted a town hall meeting on Wednesday, October 14, 2020, 11:00 a.m - noon, to gather comments from interested members of the public.  The recording of the town hall may be accessed here.

The Division will host an additional town hall meeting on Thursday, November 12, from 9:00 - 10:00 a.m., to gather comments from interested members of the public. Please click here to register for the town hall - registration is required to attend.


Information for Licensees on Professional Title Designations

The July 14, 2020 signing into law of House Bill 20-1206, Sunset Mental Health Professionals has prompted changes affecting professional titles for Certified Addiction Counselors in Colorado. The three Certified Addiction Counselor license types are being combined into two, as follows:

  • All current Certified Addiction Counselor I (ACA) certificate holders will become Certified Addiction Technicians. No new application will be required and the changes will be systematic in nature.
  • All current Certified Addiction Counselor II (ACB) and Certified Addiction Counselor III (ACC) certificate holders will become Certified Addiction Specialists. No new application will be required and the changes will be systematic in nature.
  • All active CAC II certificate holders will have their identification number and prefix manually changed in DORA’s licensing system in the coming weeks. No further action is needed.
  • Active CAC III’s ID and prefix will remain the same.

Implementation of these changes is in process. Questions may be referred to dpo@state.co.us.


Clarification for Applicants on CAC Title Designations

The July 14, 2020 signing into law of House Bill 20-1206, Sunset Mental Health Professionals has prompted changes affecting professional titles for Certified Addiction Counselors in Colorado. 

Additionally, HB20-1206 modifies the requirements for licensure and certification for addiction counselors, including examination requirements, while also clarifying education, training and clinical supervision requirements and scopes of practice.

The Board of Addiction Counselor Examiners is collaborating with the Office of Behavioral Health to implement the Mental Health Sunset bill, HB20-1206.   As training is developed for the Addiction Specialist and Addiction Technician credential, the Board will continue to process pending applications for CAC Is, CAC IIs, and CAC IIIs under the previous requirements through March 31, 2021 when new rules and training will be in place.   

Please note: No further grandfathering or applications under the previous requirements will be accepted after March 31, 2021.

Implementation of these changes is in process. Questions may be referred to dpo@state.co.us

HB20-1206 FAQ


New Disclosure Required

On May 14, 2019, Governor Jared Polis signed House Bill 19-1174 Out of Network Healthcare Services. The bill includes provisions for how health insurance carriers will reimburse providers (doctors, hospitals and other health care providers) for out-of-network emergency and non-emergency care. The new law went into effect on January 1, 2020, and also requires healthcare providers to develop and provide consumer disclosures about the potential effects of receiving emergency or non-emergency services from an out-of-network provider, and the possibility of “surprise  billing.” As part of the implementation of House Bill 19-1174 Out-of-network Surprise Billing, the Division of Professions and Occupations is providing a sample disclosure form. Please feel free to use your own form if you prefer.


Mandatory Reporting Reminder

Did you know you are a mandatory reporter? Under Colorado law, more than 40 professions are required to report suspected child abuse and elder abuse. These professions include many regulated through the Division of Professions and Occupations (DPO) at DORA, such as:

  • Physicians (including physician assistants and physicians in training),
  • Podiatrists,
  • Dentists and dental hygienists,
  • Chiropractors,
  • Nurses (including registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and nurse practitioners),
  • Nursing home administrators,
  • Occupational therapists,
  • Optometrists,
  • Physical therapists,
  • Pharmacists,
  • Veterinarians,
  • Mental health professionals (including psychologists, social workers, professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, registered psychotherapists, and all candidates for licensure),

Online trainings help mandatory reporters recognize and report abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Licensees of the regulatory boards at DPO may accrue credit towards continuing education and continuing competency requirements for completing the trainings (should they exist for their profession).

Section 19-3-304, C.R.S. outlines the persons required by law to report child abuse and/or neglect. To assist mandatory reporters, training is available on the Colorado Department of Human Services website

Section 18-6.5-108, C.R.S outlines the persons required by law to report abuse and exploitation of at-risk elders and at-risk adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Further information can be found on the Colorado Department of Human Services website

If you have further questions regarding these requirements, please contact the Colorado Department of Human Services.

For questions regarding mandatory child abuse reporting, please contact the Office of Children, Youth, and Families' Child Welfare Training System at 800-390-9619 or support@coloradocwts.com.

For questions regarding mandatory reporting of at-risk elders and at-risk adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, please contact the Office of Community Access and Independence’s Division of Aging and Adult Services at cdhs_aps_questions@state.co.us.


Toolkit Available from Colorado Crisis Services

Colorado Crisis Services is Colorado's first statewide resource for mental health, substance use, or emotional crisis help, information, and referrals. It was formed by Gov. John Hickenlooper, in partnership with the Colorado Department of Human Services, to strengthen Colorado's mental health system by providing greater access to mental health services, and ensuring Coloradans get the right services in the right locations at the right time. A new toolkit is available to help the many organizations and mental health professionals that work with Colorado Crisis Services. The toolkit provides links to branding graphics and consistent messaging for public information related to Colorado Crisis Services.


Education Equivalency Review Process

To make the education equivalency review process more efficient and improve customer service to our applicants, the Division has contracted with the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE) to conduct all education equivalency reviews. This includes services for the Board of Addiction Counselor Examiners, the Board of Licensed Professional Counselor Examiners, the Board of Marriage and Family Therapist Examiners, and the Board of Psychologist Examiners.

The new process will allow applicants to seek a review prior to submitting an application and paying an application fee. Applicants will now know if they meet educational requirements for licensure, prior to filing an application. The Division expects this new process to expedite the application process and reduce the regulatory burden.

For questions, please contact the State Board of Addiction Counselor Examiners, at dora_mentalhealthboard@state.co.us. For inquiries related to the Center for Credentialing Education, please call 888-817-8283 or visit their website at www.cce-global.org.


Bill Clarifies License Pathways

House Bill 16-1103 Concerning Clarifying License Pathways for the Mental Health Professional Workforceaffects psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, professional counselors, and any other individual who is actively working toward mental health licensure and is enrolled in a professional training program at an approved school. The bill streamlined the application process, reduced the regulatory burden, and moved qualified professionals into the workforce more quickly to increase access to mental health services.

The bill features two key components:

  • Clarifies that graduates must "have completed" their degrees (rather than "hold") in order to fulfill the educational requirements for licensure. This change will expedite the licensure process significantly. Often times, new graduates do not receive or hold their actual degree certificate for many weeks after graduation. As a result, they must wait to apply, even if they have a job offer. With this change, applications can be submitted with an unofficial transcript or a letter from the academic program as soon as an applicant completes a graduate program.
  • Clarifies the recommended pathway a student should take for licensure in Colorado. For instance, the legislation clarifies that students participating in internships do not need to register with DORA as registered psychotherapists. However, as soon as they hold their degree, they are encouraged to register as a candidate under the board that will govern their licensure. This type of clarification helps simplify the process and reduces the regulatory burden on students.