At its February meeting, APA's Council of Representatives adopted a resolution calling for admission to licensure for the professional practice of psychology after applicants have completed the equivalent of two years of full-time supervised practice training that could be completed before or after the granting of the doctoral degree. The council's action affirmed the doctorate as the minimum educational requirement for entry into professional practice and noted that, for those preparing for licensed practice in the health services domain, one of the two years of full-time practicum training should be a predoctoral internship.

Before this council action, APA policy recommended that applicants for licensure complete at least one year of their supervised training after earning their doctoral degree. Statutory and regulatory changes will be necessary at the state level in order for the APA recommendation to be actualized. Most licensing jurisdictions currently require at least one year of postdoctoral supervised experience prior to licensure. One state, Washington, has already changed that policy so that licensure is granted at the time of graduation from an accredited doctoral program.

"This policy change reflects APA's understanding of the changing landscape of psychology education and training as well as evolving marketplace issues," states Carol Williams-Nickelson, PsyD, associate executive director of the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students. "This action shows APA's commitment to modernizing policies that benefit psychology students while also serving and protecting the public."

In a related action, the Council of Representatives allocated funds from its 2006 discretionary fund to support a meeting of the APA Task Force to Revise the APA Model Act for State Licensure of Psychologists.

Other developments

Other council actions included:

  • The establishment of a new division, the Division of Trauma Psychology.

  • The defeat of a motion to establish a new division, the Society for Human-Animal Studies.

  • The creation of a Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion. The task force will collect, examine and summarize the scientific research addressing the mental health factors associated with abortion, including the psychological responses following abortion, and will produce a report based upon review of current research.

  • The allocation of 2006 council discretionary funds to support a meeting of the APA Task Force for Increasing the Number of Quantitative Psychologists.

  • The adoption of a resolution on Drug Abuse Treatment to Prevent HIV Among Injecting Drug Users, which called upon APA to actively support and promote an increase in accessible and available drug treatment for injecting drug users in substance abuse, mental health, correctional, educational and medical settings.

  • The adoption of a resolution condemning prejudice, stereotypes and discrimination in all its forms.

  • The adoption of a motion to invite representatives from the four ethnic-minority psychological associations (the Asian American Psychological Association, the Association of Black Psychologists, the Society of Indian Psychologists and the National Latina/o Psychological Association) to send representatives to future council meetings to act as observers. This pilot program will begin with the August 2006 meeting and continue for three years. The representatives will receive full reimbursement for their attendance at the meetings.

Ethics and national security

The council also received a report on the now-completed work of the APA Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security (PENS) as well as the future work of the APA Ethics Committee on a casebook/commentary dealing with the many issues raised during the PENS process.

The briefing was delivered by Olivia Moorehead-Slaughter, PhD (see "Ethics and national security"), who chaired the PENS Task Force and is also chair of the Ethics Committee. In her report, Moorehead-Slaughter summarized for council the two major underpinnings of the PENS report: Ethical Principle A, "Do No Harm," and Ethical Principle B, which speaks to psychologists' ethical responsibilities to society.

Moorehead-Slaughter emphasized APA's long-standing prohibition against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, which derives from the ethical mandate "Do No Harm" and from international human rights documents, such as the 1987 U.N. Convention Against Torture. The PENS report further stated that psychologists are duty bound to be alert to acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and have an ethical responsibility to report these acts to appropriate authorities.

In response to the briefing, the APA Divisions for Social Justice stated that they were pleased with the position taken by the PENS Task Force that psychologists have an ethical responsibility to not engage in, directly support, facilitate or offer training in torture or other cruel or inhuman or degrading treatment. The divisions furthermore encouraged APA to "take a more active role in this critical social justice issue."

Work on the casebook/commentary will begin within the next few months. During the process, the Ethics Committee will attempt to give further guidance to members working in the national security arena by identifying specific behaviors that constitute torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The Ethics Committee hopes to complete its work on the casebook/commentary product by the end of the year and will provide an update to the council at its August meeting.