National Board 

of Forensic 


NBFE News Page

Please note that as of the summer of 2020, NBFE discontinued its newsletter, but we continue to post newsworthy items here on our news page.  To view the archived newsletters page, click here.

  • 27 Aug 2018 3:21 PM | Dr. Aaron Norton (Administrator)

    Joel Miller, the Executive Director of the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA), wrote a letter to Dr. Norman Hoffman, President and Founder of the National Board of Forensic Evaluators, on 8/27/18 thanking Dr. Hoffman and NBFE for its contributions to the "Forensic Activity" section of the 2015 revision of AMHCA's Code of Ethics, as NBFE played a vital role in revising section content.  Additionally, Miller recognized NBFE's Executive Director, Aaron Norton, for his keynote presentation at AMHCA's 2018 annual conference.  Click here to read the letter.

    NBFE Founder & President, Dr. Norman Hoffman, contributed substantially to revisions of forensic section of AMHCA Code of Ethics

    Attendees at Keynote Address, AMHCA Annual Conference, 8/2/18

    NBFE E.D. Aaron Norton Presenting Keynote Address

  • 01 Jun 2018 7:51 PM | Dr. Aaron Norton (Administrator)

    The Florida Mental Health Counselors Association (FMHCA) published an article entitled "What LMHCs in Florida Should Know About Requests for Emotional Support Animals" written by NBFE Executive Director Aaron Norton in its June 2018 newsletter.  Click here to read the article.

  • 01 Feb 2018 7:35 PM | Dr. Aaron Norton (Administrator)

    NBFE Executive Director Aaron Norton, who was recently elected as the Southern Regional Director of the American Mental Health Counselors Association, was published in The Advocate Magazine, outlining the professional journey of clinical mental health counselors and drawing attention to the importance of professional advocacy.

    Click here to read more.

  • 01 Nov 2017 7:06 PM | Dr. Aaron Norton (Administrator)

    Dr. Norman Hoffman, the Founder and President of NBFE, developed the Hoffman Organicity Test (HOT), which aids clinicians in differentiating between organic brain disorders and psychotic disorders.  Counselor Magazine published a two-part article series on this helpful clinical tool.  Click on either link below to read the articles:

    A Test to Differentiate Between Organic Brain Disorder, Nonorganic Brain Disorder, and Schizophrenia, Part I (October 2017)

    A Test to Differentiate Between Organic Brain Disorder, Nonorganic Brain Disorder, and Schizophrenia, Part II (December 2017)

  • 21 Oct 2016 4:02 PM | Dr. Aaron Norton (Administrator)

    The National Board of Forensic Evaluators (NBFE) is proud to announce the appointment of Dr. Stephen Giunta as Co-Chair of our Marketing & Development Committee.  Dr. Giunta is the Past President of the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) and the Florida Mental Health Counselors Association (FMHCA).  Dr. Giunta is the Clinical Supervisor for Troy University's Tampa Bay campus.  He maintains a private practice in Clearwater, Florida, where he provides clinical supervision for registered mental health counselor interns, custody evaluations, and post-divorce family counseling.

    Dr. Giunta will work with our other Co-Chair of Marketing & Development, Gale Macke.  Gale is the CEO and Executive Director of the Licensed Professional Counselors Association of Georgia.

  • 21 Oct 2016 2:35 PM | Dr. Aaron Norton (Administrator)

    On 9/26/16, the Social Security Administration (SSA) released a revision to their public rules that goes into effect 1/17/17. In this revision, SSA clarifies that counselors and social workers are qualified to provide diagnostic records to SSA related to disability cases.  These additions and revisions include:

    (1) SSA rejected comments from medical organizations that sought to clarify that counselors, social workers, and other non-physician healthcare providers should not be able to provide diagnostic records for disability.  SSA clarified, "We did not adopt the recommendations. Our recognition of non-physician health care providers as other medical sources of evidence is not a new rule; see §§ 404.1513(d) and 416.913(d). The list of these other medical sources in our regulations is not all-inclusive, and our mention of licensed clinical social workers and clinical mental health counselors in final 12.00C2 is appropriate, given their roles in the treatment of people with mental disorders in both private and public settings. We believe that these other medical professionals—because they typically see patients regularly—are important sources of the evidence we need to assess the severity of a person’s mental disorder and the resulting limitations in the person’s mental disorder and the resulting limitations in the person’s functioning" (p. 66142).

    (2) SSA clarified that social workers and counselors can provide diagnostic records relevant to mental disorders: 

    "Evidence from medical sources. We will consider all relevant medical evidence about your disorder from your physician, psychologist, and other medical sources, which include health care providers such as physician assistants, psychiatric nurse practitioners, licensed clinical social workers, and clinical mental health counselors. Evidence from your medical sources may include: 

    a. Your reported symptoms. 

    b. Your medical, psychiatric, and psychological history. 

    c. The results of physical or mental status examinations, structured clinical interviews, psychiatric or psychological rating scales, measures of adaptive functioning, or other clinical findings. 

    d. Psychological testing, imaging results, or other laboratory findings. 

    e. Your diagnosis. 

    f. The type, dosage, and beneficial effects of medications you take. 

    g. The type, frequency, duration, and beneficial effects of therapy you receive. 

    h. Side effects of medication or other treatment that limit your ability to function. 

    i. Your clinical course, including changes in your medication, therapy, or other treatment, and the time required for therapeutic effectiveness. 

    j. Observations and descriptions of how you function during examinations or therapy. 

    k. Information about sensory, motor, or speech abnormalities, or about your cultural background (for example, language or customs) that may affect an evaluation of your mental disorder. 

     l. The expected duration of your symptoms and signs and their effects on your functioning, both currently and in the future.

    A statement from the American Mental Health Counselors Association focused on the ability of mental health counselors to test for and diagnose intellectual disorders: "The ability to diagnosis someone with an intellectual disability (IQ, learning etc.) is within the purview of a licensed clinical mental health counselor, if they may administer intellectual aptitude exams. Manyclinical mental health counselors have been trained or can be trained to administer and interpret such exams, as it is usually a course of psychological tests and assessments specific to clinical mental health counseling. Ethically, it is incumbent upon a licensed professional who administers the test that he or she is trained and received supervision in their use."

  • 28 Sep 2016 7:33 PM | Dr. Aaron Norton (Administrator)

    Lisa Taylor Austin-Smith, a CFMHE known for her expertise in street gangs, was recently quoted in an article on the street gang recruitment of youth who immigrate illegally into the United States.  Read the article here.

    Lisa Taylor-Austin, LPC, LMHC, CFMHE

  • 28 Sep 2016 7:26 PM | Dr. Aaron Norton (Administrator)

    NBFE is pleased to announce that the Honorable Judge Daniel Wilensky has been named the newest member of NBFE's advisory board.  Judge Wilensky serves in the 4th Judicial Circuit in Florida.  Read more about him here.

    The Honorable Judge Daniel Wilensky receiving his "Advocate of the Year" award in 2010.

  • 07 Sep 2016 7:42 PM | Dr. Aaron Norton (Administrator)

    The National Board of Forensic Evaluators (NBFE) commends Michael Holler, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Florida, for his successful advocacy for fair access to psychological tests in Florida.  

    Michael and his attorney filed a petition for a declaratory statement to Florida's Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy, & Clinical Social Work (a.k.a. the "491 board") on 6/24/16.  The petition asked the board to clarify whether Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHCs) can administer psychological tests.  

    The board denied Michael's request on 9/6/16.  At first glance, this would seem to be a defeat for those advocating for fair access to tests, but an exploration of the board's reason for the denial reveals an important success for counselors, social workers, and marriage and family therapists who conduct forensic mental health evlauations.  

    The Board reasoned that Florida statutes clearly indicate that the practice of mental health counseling in Florida "includes methods of a psychological nature used to evaluate, assess, diagnose, and treat emotional and mental dysfunctions or disorders..."  In other words, because the law is already clear on the ability of LMHCs to conduct psychological tests, there is no need for a declaratory statement.

    Michael Holler, LMHC, CFMHE, CCCE

    Michael is the Past President of the Florida Mental Health Counselors Association (FMHCA), and was the 49th evaluator to earn the Certified Forensic Mental Health Evaluator (CFMHE) credential in the U.S.  He was also among the first group of CFMHEs to earn NBFE's Certified Child Custody Evaluator (CCCE) credential.  He took it upon himself to advocate successfully for fair access to tests in Florida, and we commend him for it. 

    Thanks, Michael!

    Read the details of the Board's declaration here.

    View NBFE's analysis and position paper on the question of whether or not licensed counselors can administer and interpret psychological tests here.

  • 15 Aug 2016 9:20 PM | Dr. Aaron Norton (Administrator)

    Can Licensed Mental Health Counselors Administer and Interpret Psychological Tests?



    The National Board of Forensic Evaluators (NBFE) adopts the position that appropriately trained licensed mental health counselors may administer and interpret psychological tests, a viewpoint consistent with various state licensure boards including Florida, the state the NBFE is headquartered in, which declared that licensed mental health counselors, clinical social workers, and marriage and family therapists “may administer and interpret such tests as long as they have received the appropriate training, and thus, are qualified to perform such procedures.”   We support the efforts of organizations such as the National Fair Access Coalition on Testing that advocate for “the protection and support of public access to professionals and organizations who have demonstrated competence in the administration and interpretation of assessment instruments, including psychological tests.”

    Our position is based on four premises: (1) Counselors have always been experts in testing; (2) Testing is within the scope of practice of counselors; (3) Counselors meet the standards of test manufacturers; and (4) It is impractical and unethical to prohibit counselors from administering and interpreting tests.



    The counseling profession began in the late 1890s and early 1900s.  The first professional counselors were vocational guidance counselors who specialized in the administration and interpretation of various tests, including intelligence and aptitude tests.  We believe Newsome & Gladding (2014) put it well when they wrote that the first counselors “quickly embraced psychometrics to gain a legitimate foothold in psychology” (p. 7) .  Counselors have continued to administer and interpret such tests up to the present day.


    There is a consensus within the counseling profession that testing is within the scope of practice of professional counselors.

    The primary counselor education accrediting body is the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP).  CACREP’s 2016 education standards refer to the expectation that all accredited counseling degree programs teach counselors to administer and interpret tests:

    Section 2: Professional Counseling Identity

    Subsection: Counseling Curriculum

    The eight common core areas represent the foundational knowledge required of all entry-level counselor education graduates. Therefore, counselor education programs must document where each of the lettered standards listed below is covered in the curriculum.


    a)       historical perspectives concerning the nature and meaning of assessment and testing in counseling
    b)       methods of effectively preparing for and conducting initial assessment meetings
    c)       procedures for assessing risk of aggression or danger to others, self-inflicted harm, or suicide
    d)       procedures for identifying trauma and abuse and for reporting abuse
    e)       use of assessments for diagnostic and intervention planning purposes
    f)        basic concepts of standardized and non-standardized testing, norm-referenced and criterion-referenced assessments, and group and individual assessments
    g)       statistical concepts, including scales of measurement, measures of central tendency, indices of variability, shapes and types of distributions, and correlations
    h)       reliability and validity in the use of assessments
    i)         use of assessments relevant to academic/educational, career, personal, and social development
    j)         use of environmental assessments and systematic behavioral observations
    k)       use of symptom checklists, and personality and psychological testing
    l)         use of assessment results to diagnose developmental, behavioral, and mental disorders
    m)   ethical and culturally relevant strategies for selecting, administering, and interpreting assessment and test results

    The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) is the first and largest certifying body in the United States for professional counselors.  The credential NBCC has established for clinical mental health counselors is Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC).  In order for this credential to be awarded to a counselor, the counselor must have been educated on the administration of psychological tests .  In addition, counselors must pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE), which includes test items on the administration of psychological tests for purposes of assessment, diagnosis, and treatment planning .

    The American Counseling Association (ACA) is the largest association representing counselors in the United States.  The ACA identifies “the administration of assessments, tests, and appraisals” as a primary component of the scope of professional counseling.   The ACA’s most recent Code of Ethics refers repeatedly to the ability of counselors to administer and interpret tests, provided that counselors are appropriately trained in the tests they utilize.

    The American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) is a division of the ACA that exclusively represents clinical mental health counselors.  AMHCA’s published standards for clinical mental health counseling clarify that mental health counselors are expected to be trained in clinical assessment and testing.   Like the ACA, AMHCA’s 2015 Code of Ethics refers to the ability of counselors to administer and interpret psychological tests provided that counselors are appropriately trained.

    From 2005 to 2013, the 31 major counseling associations, organizations, and certifying bodies met to arrive at a consensus for the definition and scope of practice for professional counseling.  The scope of practice they adopted includes “Assessment: The practice of counseling includes the administration and interpretation of assessments for appraisal, diagnosis, evaluation, and referral determination to help establish individualized counseling plans and goals that may include the treatment of individual with emotional, mental, and physical disorders.”


    Licensed counselors meet the criteria for the highest qualification levels of the three most popular psychological test distributors in the United States.

    Level C is the highest qualification level established by Psychological Assessment Resources (PAR).  This level of qualification requires “an advanced professional degree that provides appropriate training in the administration and interpretation of psychological tests, or license or certification from an agency that requires appropriate training and experience in the ethical and competent use of psychological tests.”   Because licensed counselors must have a minimum of a Master’s degree, which is an advanced professional degree, and because CACREP- and CACREP-equivalent counselor education programs require training in the administration and interpretation of psychological tests, licensed counselors meet PAR’s criteria for qualification level C and are commonly certified as such by PAR.

    Similar to PAR, Pearson Clinical drafted a Level C qualification policy for tests administered in the category of clinical psychology requiring that evaluators earn a “doctorate degree in psychology, education, or closely related field with formal training in the ethical administration, scoring, and interpretation of clinical assessments related to the intended use of the assessment OR licensure or certification to practice in your state in a field related to the purchase OR certification by or full active membership in a professional organization (such as APA, NASP, NAN, INS) that requires training and experience in the relevant area of assessment.”   At first glance, readers may deduce that Pearson Clinical requires test administrators to earn a doctoral degree.  However, Pearson emphasizes the word “or” repeatedly in their policy through bold print and/or capitalized letters to denote that an evaluator need only meet one of the listed criteria.   Because licensed mental health counselors are licensed, and in some cases certified, to practice mental health counseling in their respective states, the second criterion should be met by all licensed mental health counselors.  In addition, some counselors will meet the first and third criteria depending on education level and association membership.

    Western Psychological Services (WPS) provides two advanced qualification levels.  Level C permits an evaluator to purchase “all products except advanced psychiatric instruments and advanced neuropsychological instruments” and requires evaluators to have “a master’s degree (MA, MS, MSW, CAGS) in psychology, school counseling, occupational therapy, speech–language pathology, social work, education, special education, or related field.”   Again, licensed mental health counselors meet this criterion because they hold master’s degrees in a related occupation.  Level N is the highest level designated by WPS, allowing purchase of all tests.  This level requires “a doctoral degree (PhD, PsyD, MD) in psychology or related field or MA (psychologist, social worker) a master’s degree (MA, MS, MSW) in fields listed above and at least a weekend workshop on neuropsychological assessment.”  Many but not all licensed mental health counselors will meet these guidelines.  Specifically, counselors who hold a doctoral degree in a related field meet the criteria, as well as master’s-level counselors who have completed at least a couple days of additional training in neuropsychological evaluation.


    The demand for evidence-based practices and treatment approaches continues to rise in the United States.  Third party payers and authorities in the behavioral healthcare sector continue to appply pressure to providers to offer evidence substantiating diagnoses and treatment methods, as well as efforts to measure response to behavioral health interventions.  Increasingly, testing provides an integral source of data to comply with these standards of care.  Testing aids counselors in formulating a diagnosis, planning treatment, and measuring client progress.   

    According to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, counselors comprise the largest percentage of the U.S. behavioral healthcare workforce in the National Provider Identifier database, which all healthcare providers are required to register with in order to accept insurance.

    To deny the largest sector of the U.S. behavioral healthcare workforce the opportunity to administer and interpret psychological tests is illogical.  It implies that licensed mental health counselors are qualified to treat mental disorders but not to diagnose them nor evaluate the efficacy of their treatment approaches.  This practice is akin to expecting a physician to diagnose and treat hypertension without allowing the physician to measure a patient’s blood pressure. 

    Counselors cannot be expected to treat what they cannot objectively diagnose or measure.  Ultimately, such a practice would negatively impact client care.  Thus, NBFE views any efforts to restrict the rights of counselors from administering and interpreting psychological tests as potentially harmful to clients and therefore unethical.


    The National Board of Forensic Evaluators calls on state legislatures, licensing boards, and authorities in all disciplines of the mental health profession to advocate for laws, rules, and policies that protect the rights of all appropriately-trained licensed mental health professionals to administer and interpret psychological tests.  We also encourage licensed mental health counselors to seek ongoing training in this area that exceeds the that which they received in graduate school.  Counselors should abide by ethical guidelines that require that they be appropriately trained on any test they administer.


    The National Board of Forensic Evaluators (NBFE) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing quality training and certification of all licensed mental health professionals (e.g., counselors, social workers, marriage and family therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists) in the specialty area of forensic mental health evaluation.  NBFE is a proud partner of the American Mental Health Counselors Association and several other state, local, and international organizations in the mental health field.  To learn more about NBFE, visit

    Position paper authored by Aaron Norton, Executive Director of NBFE, edited by Dr. Norman Hoffman, President and Founder of NBFE, and approved by the NBFE Board of Directors 8/15/16.

    Foster, S.J. (2000, February 4). Letter to Judge Roger McDonald

    National Fair Access Coalition on Testing (n.d.). The National Fair Access Coalition on Testing Mission. Retrieved from

    Newsome, D.W. & Gladding, S.T. (2014). Clinical Mental Health Counseling in Community and Agency Settings (4th ed.). Boston: Merrill.

    CACREP (2016). 2016 CACREP Standards. Retrieved from

    NBCC (2016). Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor. Retrieved from

    NBCC (2016). Content covered in the NCMHCE. Retrieved from

    ACA (2016). Endorsed scope of practice for professional counseling. Retrieved from

    ACA (2014). 2014 ACA Code of Ethics. Retrieved from

    AMHCA (2016). AMHCA Standards for the Practice of Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Alexandria, VA: AMHCA.

    AMHCA (2015). Code of Ethics. Retrieved from

    20/20 Task Force (2013). Meeting notes from Delegates meeting. 

    PAR (2012). Qualification levels. Retrieved from

    Pearson (2016). Clinical Psychology Qualifications Policy. Retrieved from

    WPS (n.d.). Qualification Guidelines. Retrieved from

    American Psychological Association (2014, September). What percentage of the nation’s behavioral health providers are psychologists?  Retrieved from

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