APA Council highlights: Focus on practice

APA’s legislative body voted on adopting as APA policy the revised Model Act for State Licensure and APA’s development of treatment guidelines at their winter meeting

By Practice Research and Policy Staff

March 31, 2010 — The American Psychological Association (APA) Council of Representatives held its winter meeting February 19-21, 2010.

Issues of importance to practicing psychologists voted on by the APA’s legislative body at its biannual meeting included:

Adopting as APA policy the revised Model Act for State Licensure

APA’s Model Act for State Licensure of Psychologists is available online.

What is the Model Act?

According to APA policy, the Model Act serves as a prototype for drafting state legislation regulating the practice of psychology. State legislatures are encouraged to use the language of this document and the policies that it espouses as the model for their own state licensure law. Inevitably each state law will reflect compromises and changes particular to that state, but the APA Model Act is meant to serve as a guide for those involved in the drafting process.

State licensing boards must develop their own rules and regulations to supplement proposed legislation. The document also serves to educate legislatures about psychology training and practice and to synthesize APA policies that bear on the education, training, and practice of professional psychology.

Prior to this version, the Model Act was last updated in 1987.

Doctoral degree

At its February 2010 meeting, the Council voted to adopt as APA policy the revised Model Act for State Licensure as amended by Council. The revised Model Act for State Licensure of Psychologists reaffirms APA’s long- standing policy (dating back to 1977) that the doctoral degree is the minimum educational requirement for entry into professional practice as a licensed psychologist regardless of specialty area.

This revision specifies that psychologists licensed to provide health services by state and provincial psychology boards must earn their degrees from doctoral programs accredited by APA or the Canadian Psychological Association and complete the equivalent of two full-time years of sequential, organized, and supervised professional practice.

Titles for school psychologists

The revised Model Act retains but modifies the existing exemption for providers of school psychological services. The revised Model Act recognizes the expertise of state education agency officials and their authority to issue titles to providers of psychological services in schools, so long as the title incorporates the word "school." The revised Model Act continues to restrict the practice of such individuals and the use of their title to employment within the settings that are under the purview of the appropriate state education authority.

By clarifying that the new provision is not intended to restrict the activities of licensed psychologists, the revised Model Act recognizes the contributions of licensed psychologists with special expertise in such areas as clinical or counseling psychology who provide vital mental and behavioral health services in the school setting.

Sequence of training

In addition, APA’s recommended sequence of training leading to licensure is now part of the MLA. See Section D.2 of the revision.

Scope of practice

Scope of practice of psychology was updated to reflect the range of activities and services provided by licensed psychologists. See section B.3 for the updated language.

See section G of the Model Act for State Licensure of Psychologists for limits of practice and maintaining and expanding competence.

Interstate practice of psychology

The Model Act sets forth the requirements for psychologists who cross jurisdictional lines, both physically and via electronic and telephone communication.

See section E of the Model Act for State Licensure of Psychologists for interjurisdictional provisions.

Approving APA’s development of treatment guidelines

The Council of Representatives voted to approve APA development of clinical treatment guidelines and, as a first step, creation of an Advisory Steering Committee that will finalize details of the development of clinical treatment guidelines.

The Board of Professional Affairs (BPA), Board of Scientific Affairs (BSA) and Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice (CAPP) is expected to issue a Call for Nominations the first week of April 2010 for psychologists to serve on the Advisory Steering Committee that will oversee APA’s process to develop clinical treatment guidelines. This Call for Nominations will be distributed to APA governance, state, provincial and territorial association (SPTA) and division listservs. It will also be posted on the APA Web site. Nominating materials will be due one month after the Call is issued.

For further information on APA development of clinical treatment guidelines or the Advisory Steering Committee, please contact the APA’s Clinical Treatment Guidelines Project Team by e-mail.