Licensing requirements to practice psychology can vary greatly from state to state; therefore graduates must become educated on specific state regulations. Each state or jurisdiction is responsible for outlining any potential limitations to how and where a mental health professional can practice. Graduates of psychology programs must become well informed about the licensing and certifications prerequisites in any state they will practice. The responsibility of fulfilling these obligations is on the practitioner.
Licensure is an important issue for a number of reasons. The first issue is that psychologists may only practice within the scope of their specific training. When a client seeks the assistance of a psychologist, it is through proper licensing that they can rest assured their mental health professional is properly trained to help with their needs. Also, these license requirements hold professionals accountable that they hold the proper degree to practice in a particular states. While some states allow master’s level psychologists to practice independently, others outline that a doctoral degree must be held.
Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology
Most states require graduates to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). This is a board certification exam administered by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB). The goal is to ensure that applicants for licensure have obtained the proper skills, background and practice before they are permitted to practice privately. By passing the EPPP, applicants are able to demonstrate that they are ready to practice in a particular state.
Proper Degree Level Requirements
Many states in the United States require that graduates hold a doctoral degree in order to become fully licensed and certified to practice psychology. Some states allow individuals with a master’s degree (who also fulfill any other requirements) to become licensed. There are also stipulations for how and where individuals with master’s degrees can practice in some states. There are several states that allow master’s level psychologists to earn licensure and practice under the supervision of a doctoral level psychologist.
Accredited Program Requirement
One of the most controversial requirements, from state to state, is the constraint that a degree is earned from an accredited college or university. Because the American Psychological Association (APA) only accredits doctoral degree programs, this creates a limitation for states where a master’s degree is sufficient to practice. The specific wording in much of the legislature is that a degree must come from an “approved training program”, with no specifics about what approval is sufficient. It is then up to each state or jurisdiction to decide what criteria they deem necessary.
Internship, Fellowship or Supervision Requirements
Some states have rules about whether an applicant must have fulfilled an internship, a fellowship or have received a certain amount of hours “under supervision” of a licensed practitioner. This is not a requirement in every state, however each state outlines specifics in terms of what fulfills the amount of hours required for licensure.
The most important piece of information in regards to licensure requirements is being aware. It is critical that you know and understand what prerequisites have been outlined by any and all states in which you plan to practice. Become educated on the specific rules and guidelines, the necessary degree, the proper examinations and any experiential learning mandated to become fully licensed. By paying close attention to the licensing requirements to practice psychology, you can put your degree to use upon graduation.