• Dr. Brian Quinones LPC

New Jersey Competency Levels: Supportive, Professional, and Clinical

Updated: 6 hours ago


Full disclaimer –It is important to note that yes, I am a therapist, but this blog is not therapy. I will offer advice, tips, and other guidance on my blog with the intent to illustrate important life skills, provide entertainment, inform, and at times empower the reader.

If you or a loved one is struggling with mental illness or are facing any kind of crisis seek local professional help, and/or contact authorities or emergency professionals for assistance.

New Jersey Competency Levels: Supportive, Professional, and Clinical


Still on that Metatopia 2019 high, and my conversations at the con is compelling me to write this post. The question posed to me was essentially, what gives one the right to call them self a therapist. By no means was it an insult, it was an honest question and one that made me double check our website. Yes, I am a licensed professional, but what does that allow me to do?

Today I am going to give a quick rundown about what the state of New Jersey has to say regarding the Bachelors, Masters, and Licensed level professionals who work Intensive In-Community services and what it means to be Supportive, Professional and Clinical.

All this information is free online and I will provide the website information in the summary below.

Supportive Services (Bachelors Level)

In New Jersey, Intensive In-Community Behavioral Assistant is a supportive service provider. This level of proficiency requires at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing, counseling, psychology, social work, or a related field, be cleared by the state to work with child and adolescents (this includes criminal background checks), be under direct supervision of a clinical supervisor and the skilled worker must complete several Intensive In-Community Behavioral Assistants (IIC-BA) certification courses within a year of hire in order to continue working within the field. A behavioral assistant may work individually or in groups within the home or community only if directly supervised by a state licensed professional and from a Behavioral Assistant Individual Service Plan.

The state regulations provide a description of what a behavioral assistant will do working with a child, parent and/or caregiver. A Behavioral Assistant will help;

· Addressing physical and mental wellbeing;

· Interpersonal communications and relationships;

· Social interactions;

· Behavioral Conduct;

· Adaptive coping strategies and behaviors;

· Recreational/leisure activities;

· Instruction in Anger Management;

· Parenting Skill Development;

· Instructions in Stress Reduction Techniques;

· Problem Solving Skill Development; and

· Psychoeducation related to mental health including, but not limited to improved decision-making skills to manage behavior and reduce risk behaviors.

Behavioral assistance applies positive behavioral principles within the community and culturally based norms to reduce undesirable behaviors and build appropriate behaviors. It is rehabilitative and restorative in nature and is meant to lead to long lasting positive change. It is not mentoring, tutoring, companionship, or other similar services that does not require clinical supervision, a plan of care, or behavioral assistance services.

Professional Services (Master’s Level)

In the state of New Jersey there is a Professional service level for Intensive In-Community therapist. This level of proficiency requires at least a master’s degree in nursing, counseling, psychology, social work, or a related field, be cleared by the state to work with child and adolescents (this includes criminal background checks) and be under direct clinical supervision. Professional level services will also require a licensed individual to create an appropriate treatment plan for the professional to follow.

At the professional level a therapist can perform all the tasks of the supportive services plus the following:

· Individual or family therapy;

· Allied behavioral therapies and modalities, including, but not limited to, play therapy, art therapy, drama therapy, and/or music therapy;

· Clinical consultation/evaluation;

· Psycho-educational instruction related to mental health; and

· Counseling services

It is important to note several other details regarding the Professional Service level. This level of service is to be concrete, outcome-oriented and are components of an approved, written, detailed plan of care that has been prepared by a clinically licensed behavioral health care practitioner. Furthermore, the professional direct care provider may not provide interventions requiring skills, experience, credentials, and licensure other than those allowed under appropriate licensing regulations. A good example of this would be a master’s level individual who practices art therapy but is not an accredited art therapist nor is licensed. That clinician can say they are using art therapy techniques but cannot say they are doing counseling.

Clinical Services (Licensed Level)

For Intensive In-Community services delivered by a licensed clinical professional the state is typically looking for individuals who are psychiatrist, psychologists, advanced practice nurse, a licensed clinical social worker or a mental health professional licensed according to the Board of Marriage and Family Therapy Examiners, be cleared by the state to work with child and adolescents (this includes criminal background checks), and who is authorized to provide or supervise mental health services.

At the licensed level a clinician performs all the tasks of the supportive and professional services plus the following:

· Counseling Services

· Symptom Reduction

· Clinical Assessment

Some more information regarding the clinical level. The state requires a detailed plan of care that the clinician creates, the client and the family associated with the case. At this level a clinician does not require additional clinical supervision. The aim of their services is for children and families who require more clinically intensive services, as determined by the needs illustrated from a clinical evaluation. As with the professional level, all services must meet the appropriate licensure or specialty requirements. So, for example a registered play therapist who is performing on the clinical level must meet the requirements necessary to be a play therapist as well as the requirements for licensure.

Lastly, remember that anyone can perform a service that is lower than their clinical/professional level, but it is unethical to perform a service that is above that level. A Clinical IIC can be a Professional IIC and a Supportive IIC but a Professional IIC cannot perform clinical assessment or counseling according to the state of New Jersey. With that said, I believe that it is important for a Professional and Clinical level IIC to have taken the Supportive Services training as well even if only on the supervisory level. Doing so helps in the construction of Individual Service Plans and gives the professional/clinician a better understanding of what to expect from the IIC-BA.


As I stated before at the conference the question of what we can do and when came up several times. It is my hope that this gives a better range of the rules for services in the state of New Jersey. Adhere to your local licensing laws and regulations and be mindful of the services provided and the scope of practice allowed by their level of service. In general think of a bachelor’s degree as supportive, a master’s degree as professional, and a license as clinical. Anything lower than bachelor’s level for Intensive In-Community Services is mentoring in New Jersey, and at present my company cannot hire mentoring level (high school degree) for in home/community services as part of our contract with the state. If you have any other questions or blog post ideas you can reach me at We are planning to release additional information from the conference and include the scope of New Jersey program description and ethical practice on our website as well.

You can find the information summarized Here. The Regulations are long so I would suggest looking at section 10:77-5.7 for Program Description: Levels of Service for further details.

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