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Professional Psychology: Debating Chamber · Psychology Journals · Psychologists

Professional licensing occurs where an authority such as the government conducts a procedure that must be passed before a practitioner can use a particular title commence practicing within their jurisdiction. It is important to note that one may not necessarily need to be professionally certified in order to be liscensed. I could as a psychologist from on country obtain a licence to practice in another country without being certified by the professional bodies there. Or I could have trained in a country, obtained the necessary qualifications, but not chosen to have belonged to a professional body such as a national psychological society.

Professional licensing vs professional certification

The difference between licensure and certification is licensure is required by law, whereas certification is generally voluntary. Sometimes the word certification is used for licensure. It is argued by proponents that licensing has more force because it is law and therefore is better able to protect the public. On the other hand in many jurisdictions the bodies providing certification provided strict monitoring of the content of professional courses to ensure that the professional exams taken provided a sound basis for qualification and practice. It is not clear that government licensing authorities provide the same level of professional oversight.

Licensing in clinical psychology

The practice of clinical psychology requires a license in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and many other countries. Although each of the U.S. states is somewhat different in terms of requirements and licenses, there are three common elements:[1]

  1. Graduation from an accredited school with the appropriate degree
  2. Completion of supervised clinical experience or internship
  3. Passing a written examination and, in some states, an oral examination


In the UK, registration is due to become statutory in summer 2009 and will be administered by the UK Health Professions Council (HPC). Previously there has been a voluntary professional certification scheme through which the BPS award practicing certificates to qualified Clinical Psychologists who have completed sufficient continuing professional development activities and agree to abide by their professional Code of Conduct.

US and Canada

All US states and Canada province licensing boards are members of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) which created and maintains the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). Many states require other examinations in addition to the EPPP, such as a jurisprudence (i.e. mental health law) examination and/or an oral examination.[1] Most states also require a certain number of continuing education credits per year in order to renew a license, which can be obtained though various means, such as taking audited classes and attending approved workshops. Clinical psychologists require the Psychologist license to practice, although licenses can be obtained with a masters-level degree, such as Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT), Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), and Licensed Psychological Associate (LPA).[2]

Licensing in educational psychology

Licensing in other areas

See also

  1. 1.0 1.1 Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. URL accessed on 2007-02-17.
  2. Professional Disciplines. URL accessed on 2008-12-01.