Kentucky is now licensing pastoral counselors to help people with marital conflicts, addictions, and depression.
The new law, which took effect Tuesday, will cover about 30 pastors who work as mental and behavioral health counselors, and it will allow their services to be covered by insurance.
The pastors must have a master's in counseling, more than 1,300 hours of supervised practice, 250 hours of clinical work, and pass a written exam.
"It's an opportunity for better mental health counseling," Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, R-Lexington, told the Lexington Herald-Leader.
"This will help Kentucky's shortage of mental and behavioral health service providers, which has been augmented by the federal Affordable Care Act's requirement that Medicaid and insurance companies on the health exchange offer mental and behavioral health benefits," she said.
Kentucky is the sixth state to license pastors, along with Arkansas, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Tennessee.