Lobbying 101 - CAMFT Grassroots State Advocacy Team

Lobbying  for California State Legislation

Lobbying 101 = CAMFT Grassroots Federal Advocacy Team

Lobbying in Washington, DC

Meeting with your Legislator:

When attempting to set up a meeting: be polite, be specific and be persistent.  To set up a meeting with your elected official, you should call the local office directly, explain that you are a “constituent” and that you would like to set up a brief meeting to talk about “X” issue.   For instance:

“Hello, my name is John Smith.  I am a licensed marriage and family therapist (or CAMFT member) and am a constituent of Senator Jones.  I would like to schedule an appointment with Senator Jones to personally introduce myself, and to discuss some issues of importance to therapists and their patients”.  (If there are specific issues, you can identify them)  “What would be a good time for me to drive to his/her office to meet?”

Pointers to Remember:

  • Confirm the meeting the day before;
  • It is okay if the legislative assistant meets with you instead of the elected official;
  • Be PREPARED--Be PREPARED;
  • Explain who are you, what group you are with and why you are there;
  • Have specific points, arguments and examples;
  • If you don’t know an answer, tell them you will send follow up materials;
  • If your purpose is to discuss legislation surrounding your profession, be prepared to explain what an LMFT does, the scope of practice and education/experience requirements;
  • Leave a business card or contact information; and, 
  • Be on time and look professional.

Sample Script:

Hi.  My name is John Smith and I work as marriage and family therapist (am a member of CAMFT) and wanted to discuss some issues of importance to marriage and family therapists and their patients.  (Depending on what you are there to talk about, and it might just be a general meet and greet, you can use the bullet points below to help you formulate some talking points):

  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists are mental health professionals who work with individuals, couples, families and groups to cure or relieve mental, emotional, and relational concerns of all kinds.  LMFTs diagnose and treat severe mental illnesses such as: schizophrenia; schizoaffective disorder; bipolar disorder; major depressive disorders; panic disorder; obsessive-compulsive disorder; autism; anorexia; and, bulimia.  LMFTs are reimbursed by health care plans and providers for their services.  LMFTs work in private practice and a variety of other settings throughout California such as hospitals, government agencies, schools, veteran centers, and jails.  LMFTs have minimally acquired two-year masters degrees, 3,000 hours of supervised experience, and have passed two rigorous exams.
  • CAMFT (CAMFT has 32,000 members throughout California, and ____ members in their specific district.  [You can get that exact number by calling CAMFT.]  CAMFT represents the interests of licensed marriage and family therapists and is dedicated to advancing the profession, maintaining high standards of professional ethics and upholding the qualifications for the profession.  CAMFT also advocates for the advancement of mental health generally and the protection of the mental health consumer. 
  • Other issues of interest may include such things as: Medicare reimbursement; LMFTs working within the VA; mental health parity; patient access to care; health care plan and insurers policies regarding “medical necessity”, administrative complexities, or phantom panels; mental health care generally.  Before discussing these more specific issues, it would be wise to set up a conference call with Cathy Atkins or Jill Epstein to discuss the issues of the date, current status of laws and legislative agenda of CAMFT.
  • Please remember that this is NOT the place to talk about your concerns regarding the current reimbursement rates of mental health providers.  

Follow-up After Your Meeting: 

After your meeting, make sure to send a thank you card to the elected official and/or staff you met with.  Please also, contact CAMFT to discuss your meeting, as well next steps.