'That's My Sincerely Held Principle': Tennessee Mental Health Providers' Perceptions of Ability to Refuse Services

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Warren, Sally Elizabeth
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Middle Tennessee State University
In 2016, then state Governor Bill Haslam signed Tennessee House Bill 1840 into law, which granted mental health providers the ability to decline services based on the “goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with the sincerely held principles of the counselor or therapist” (Tennessee General Assembly 2020). Many perceive the law as explicitly targeting the LGBTQ+ community. Previous research has examined LGBTQ+ community members’ perceptions of this law, but none has focused on mental health care providers’ perceptions. I distributed an online survey to mental health care providers practicing in Tennessee to gauge their perceptions of this law. A content analysis was conducted on data gathered from seventeen respondents. I identified three themes in the data: a dedication to the Code of Ethics, boundary making, and conflicting perspectives. I found that those in the sample disagree with the law, but also have diverse viewpoints on the efficacy of the law.
Boundary maintenance, Discrimination, Health care delivery, Mental health, Transgender, Sociology, LGBTQ studies, Mental health