Matters to a Degree

There is exciting news for psychology, and for graduate students in particular! At its February 2006 meeting, APA's Council of Representatives, the governing body of our association voted to adopt as APA policy a new statement about the minimum educational requirement for entry into professional practice. It reads in part:

"The American Psychological Association recommends that for admission to licensure applicants demonstrate that they have completed a sequential, organized, supervised professional experience equivalent to two years of full-time training that can be completed prior or subsequent to the granting of the doctoral degree." (For the complete text, see www.apa.org/apags.)

BACKGROUND

In February 2000, APA's Council approved the establishment of a 30-member cross-constituency Commission on Education and Training Leading to Licensure in Psychology. APAGS was represented on the commission and has been intimately involved in the advocacy process leading up to the passage of this policy ever since. The Commission's main charge was to review the current state of education and training in professional psychology to determine at what point basic readiness for independent practice is achieved. Given that licensure is intended to be a proxy for basic practice readiness, licensure served as a starting point for discussion, with sensitivity to many other important training issues. The commission closely examined education, training, examination and supervision requirements leading to licensure in psychology and then recommended changes in those areas, particularly as they related to emerging specialties and the current and future marketplace for psychological services.

The commission's 2001 report included specific mechanisms for achieving its various recommendations, and since that time APA and many other groups have made significant progress in implementing the recommendations, such as beginning to articulate competencies and other changes to improve the quality of training and the preparation of new psychologists, and to make entry into the profession more seamless.

The commission's original recommendations included a proposed change to APA's policy regarding the sequence of licensure. To provide the opportunity and time for some of the other recommendations and changes to take effect, and to see the impact, the recommendation to change APA's policy on the sequence of licensure was postponed until 2005. In February 2006, APA's Council considered the policy change, only slightly modified from the commission's original proposed language, and it passed by an overwhelming majority vote.


WHAT A POLICY CHANGE MEANS (AND DOESN'T)

Statutory and regulatory changes that reflect a change in the sequencing of education and training for licensure occur at the state level. Some states, including Washington state, already grant licensure at the time of graduation with a doctoral degree. While state legislatures and state psychological associations may act independent of APA policy, it is an important responsibility of the profession to develop standards and guidelines that serve as models for others on matters related to professional affairs. The APA Model Licensing Act is a good example of this responsibility; it will be revised to reflect the new policy.

Another example is the profession's responsibility to ensure accountability for education and training from which the competencies to practice are developed in preparation for licensure. Psychology is working to establish a taxonomy of core competencies and assessment that can be introduced and applied at all levels of doctoral education and training.

The commission's report urges that priority be given to initiatives that encourage state licensing boards to administer the EPPP--the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology-upon completion of all educational requirements for the doctorate degree, and it encourages advocacy initiatives that impact funding for graduate education and training.


GET INVOLVED!

APAGS encourages students to get involved with and talk to their state psychological associations about ways they can help introduce new statues and regulations to implement this change. This policy change reflects APA's understanding of the changing landscape of education and training in preparation for practice, and APA's commitment to modernizing policies that benefit its students and members while serving and protecting the public.