APA moves to accredit master's programs

Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by sanantone, Feb 21, 2022.

  1. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Currently, the American Psychological Association only accredits doctoral programs in school, counseling, and clinical psychology. They're seeking approval from the U.S. Department of Education to expand their scope to master's degrees in health service psychology (any field of psychology that has licensed mental health practitioners).

    While I hate the trend toward states making it more difficult to become licensed in certain occupations by requiring programmatic accreditation, and the VA makes it hard to recruit mental health practitioners because of their pickiness, this could be a good move. Currently, none of the federal agencies appear to recognize masters-level psychology practitioners: psychological associate, psychological examiner, psychological assistant, psychological practitioner, and psychological technician. In my state, psychological associates can practice independently and do almost everything a psychologist can do. These professionals could potentially help alleviate the mental health practitioner shortage being experienced by the VA, Bureau of Prisons, and Indian Health Service. Since the VA and USPHS require programmatic accreditation for almost everything, having APA-accredited master's programs could potentially lead to the recognition of master's level psychologists.


    A newer accreditor, MPCAC, accredits master's programs in psychology and counseling, but it's not gaining recognition. PCSAS is quickly gaining recognition, including by the VA and USPHS, but they only accredit PhD programs in clinical psychology. CACREP only accredits counseling programs. NASP only accredits graduate programs in school psychology. Even though they've been around for a long time and are recognized by many states for licensing purposes, they still are not recognized by CHEA or the U.S. Department of Education.
  2. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Some schools with PCSAS accreditation, UC Berkeley to name one, are planning to let their APA accreditation lapse. Based on comments from psychologists and psychology students around the web, some of the more prestigious clinical psychology programs take issue with APA requiring so many courses to accommodate doctoral programs, mostly PsyD, that have lower admissions standards. Many psychology doctoral students have to repeat courses they've already taken at the undergraduate or master's level because of APA requirements, and PCSAS is more focused on research than specific coursework. PCSAS will not accredit programs at for-profit colleges.
  3. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    I don't see this as necessarily being a step toward recognition of masters level psychology practitioners. States had that. In PA, for quite a few years, it was possible to become a licensed psychologist with a masters (I believe the clinical experience was longer than for a doctoral grad). Then they eliminated those paths to licensure, in part, at the behest of APA and other higher ed lobbyists.

    The VA, in recruiting mental health practitioners, will undoubtedly still require licenses (as they currently do). And right now, the APA can accredit all of the Masters degrees they like, there is no accompanying license unless they either 1) nudge CACREP out of the way for counseling licensure or 2) set themselves up as an alternative accreditor for that or other licenses classes. The third option would be to lobby states to allow for the licensing of masters level psychologists which in many states is a statutory change.

    As we always say, if you're looking a licensed profession then state licensing guidelines rule supreme. USDOE recognition for programmatic accreditation is fine and all but when you take financial out of the mix it becomes far less essential. And CHEA is nice but offers no practical purpose. If I were an accreditor of a licensed profession it would matter much more to the success of my organization that we were recognized by (preferably multiple) states for licensing than if CHEA recognized us.

    I agree that psychological associates or some other similar class of practitioner could help the shortage. But given that so many states eliminated that license class at the behest of APA I don't see how them accrediting Masters programs will actually contribute to the solution unless, of course, the states also change course.
  4. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    If states eliminated master's-level practitioners at the behest of APA, then APA advocating for master's-level practitioners will likely encourage them to recreate those licenses. In the meantime, the VA can hire master's-level practitioners from the dozen or so states that still have them. Plus, the federal government is not required to have their employees licensed in the states they practice. You can be licensed in Idaho and work for the federal government in Iowa. The license is just a quality control measure. Not too long ago, USPHS had unlicensed psychologists providing services to their partner agencies.
  5. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    Oh sure, the "be licensed but practice anywhere" is a major feature of the VA. I suppose time will tell if VA picks up the opportunity. It's a weird thing for them to get so picky about, IMO. A masters level clinician is perfectly capable of serving the veteran community.
  6. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I found some unlicensed providers in the VA, but programmatic accreditation is required with the exception of addiction therapists.

    Recreation therapist - certification required
    Creative art therapist - registration required
    Rehabilitation counselor - certification required
    Addiction therapist - I saw nothing but a bachelor's degree and experience as requirements.

    The low standards for addiction therapists is surprising since many states license them, and there's a national certification board.
  7. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    I'm not surprised. I, afterall, was an addiction counselor and became licensed while still an undergrad. That said, addiction counselors/therapists typically have a more narrow scope of practice than the others you mentioned (i.e. you can't open up a private practice on the basis of that license alone). From my limited experience, though, the license is treated very differently than, say, my wife's mental health counselor license. Her's had some pretty in-depth course evaluation. Her's is by the Department of Education (in NYS). If I were to become licensed as a substance abuse counselor in this state (previously was PA) it would be, instead, by the Department of Health. The licenses issued by the DOH are, generally speaking, not seen as "professional" licenses. NYSDOE licenses physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, physician assistants, pharmacists etc. DOH certifies EMTs, substance abuse counselors and, of course, health facilities.

    As much as I disagree with the notion, I suspect there is an outdated notion that certain occupations are just an administrative license more akin to a notary public than an actual professional. One of those situations where the scope of practice and the expectations of the role outpaced the administrative structure that supports them.
  8. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I guess it depends on the state. Where I'm at, you can open a private practice as a licensed chemical dependency counselor. It's just that the limited scope of practice won't attract many clients, and the clients you could have will usually go to AA or a treatment center instead of a private practice. Those who want more individual attention will likely end up at a psychologist or LPC's office.

    Texas had so many agencies overseeing licenses. Recently, they moved LMFTs, LPCs, psychologists, and social workers all under the Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council. LCDCs remain under the Department of Health and Human Services along with licensed sex offender treatment providers and paramedics. Dietitians, midwives, athletic trainers, behavior analysts, speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and podiatrists are now under the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation along with code enforcement officers, animal breeders, electricians, and cosmetologists.

    I think the VA hires addiction therapists in certain locations out of desperation. Most of their substance abuse treatment positions are only open to psychologists, licensed professional or clinical mental health counselors, and social workers. I can see why education standards are higher for creative arts therapists, rehabilitation counselors, and recreation therapists. Their treatment modalities are highly-specialized, but they're treating a wide variety of disorders.
    sideman likes this.
  9. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    New Mexico licenses Psychology Associates with Master's degrees. There's a sunset date of 2028 but I don't think that means the act is really going away.
  10. From this website: https://www.online-psychology-degrees.org/faq/in-what-states-can-i-be-licensed-with-a-masters-degree/

    • Alabama – Psychological Technician
    • Alaska – Licensed Psychological Associate
    • Arkansas – Psychological Examiner
    • California – Registered Psychological Assistant
    • Kentucky – Licensed Psychological Practitioner or Licensed Psychological Associate
    • Maine – Psychological Examiner
    • Michigan – Masters Limited License
    • Nebraska – Psychological Assistant
    • New Mexico – Psychologist Associate – Supervised
    • Ohio – School Psychologist
    • Oregon – Psychologist Associate – Supervised or Independent
    • Texas – Licensed Specialist in School Psychology or Licensed Psychological Associate
    • Vermont – Psychologist- Master
    • Virginia – School Psychologist
    • West Virginia – Psychologist, School Psychologist or School Psychologist Independent Practice

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