APA Council Representative Report

Fall 2017: Volume 73, Number 2

by Marta Miranda, Psy.D.

 APA’s Council of Representatives met in August, 2017 in Washington, D.C. during the APA Annual Convention. Several issues were addressed, which are summarized below.

The “Master’s Issue”

Council was asked to consider whether APA should develop a position on training and credentialing graduates with a master’s degree in psychology.  In the past, APA’s stance has been that a doctorate is the minimum educational entry-point for the professional practice of psychology. APA only accredits doctoral programs in counseling, clinical and school psychology and has never accredited master’s level programs. However, recent developments in the field have made it necessary to re-consider APA’s position toward master’s degree programs in psychology.

Specifically, the Committee on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), the licensing body of the American Counseling Association (ACA), has been lobbying in some states to limit the credentialing of master’s-level clinicians (e.g., Licensed Professional Counselors) to graduates of CACREP-accredited programs. The ACA argues that counseling is a separate field from psychology.

If CACREP is successful, individuals with master’s degrees in psychology would be unable to practice as LPCs, or any other master’s level credential, as no psychology programs are CACREP-accredited. Additionally, individuals with advanced degrees in psychology would not be able to serve as core faculty in counseling master’s degree programs because they did not graduate from CACREP-accredited programs.

CACREP has not yet appeared on the scene in Washington, and it is unlikely they would be successful in changing our licensure laws, given that the legislature has been historically unsympathetic to turf battles among healthcare professions. However, other state associations have reported that CACREP has been lobbying legislators in their states, arguing that graduates from master’s level psychology programs do not meet the counseling profession’s standards for licensure.

After several hours of discussion, Council voted to charge APA staff with identifying and exploring options that Council could consider with regard to whether APA should develop a separate accreditation and licensure track for master’s degree candidates. Options and concerns will be presented to Council at its next meeting, in March 2018, specifically with regard to the following considerations: 1) licensure/regulatory; 2) competency/standards; 3) accreditation/quality assurance; and 4) scope of practice.

This is a complex issue, requiring careful deliberation and consideration of the benefits and pitfalls to psychology and professional psychologists. It is important that APA ensures that recognition of master’s level graduates does not undercut doctoral-level practitioners by developing a separate pathway that competes with psychologists’ skill set.  At the same time, it is unrealistic and probably foolish to suggest that those with master’s degrees cannot serve as mental health service providers; they are already doing so as counselors and social workers, and often they provide services for under-served populations who are not seen by psychologists.

I have suggested, and will continue to recommend, that Council should immediately pass a resolution stating that APA affirms counseling as a field of psychology. This would give our legislative staff in state associations the necessary credibility and support from APA to push back against CACREP in states where they have been most aggressive. At the moment, this is likely the most obvious and logical step APA can take to combat CACREP’s monopolistic tendencies.

Council Diversity Work Group

The Council Leadership Team established the Council Diversity Work Group (CDWG) to address issues raised by Council representatives from minority groups regarding the lack of sensitivity to diversity issues. The CDWG presented a comprehensive report to Council with recommendations to ensure that Council and APA respects and promotes diversity and inclusiveness throughout the organization.

After presentation of the CDWG report, it became clear that some forces within Council were pressuring the Board to “sunset” the work of the CDWG without implementing its recommendations.  In the weeks after the Council meeting, many Council members voiced their support for the work of the CDWG and, as a result, the CDWG was made into a standing group of the Council Leadership Team.  For 2018, the CDWG will provide diversity training for Council members. Other recommendations, such as that APA hire a Diversity Officer, are under consideration.

Multicultural Guidelines

Council voted to accept a comprehensive report updating APA’s 2002 Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice and Organizational Change for Psychologists. The new guidelines incorporate the latest research on this topic and represent a tour de force effort by a coalition of experts in the field. The document constitutes an excellent and comprehensive resource for those interested in this topic.

Commission on Ethics Report

The Committee on Ethics reviewed policies and procedures at APA that warranted changes to better address concerns raised in the Independent Review. The report, which outlined new policies and procedures in the Ethics office and changes to the ethics adjudication process, was presented to Council. Council voted to accept the report.

Transparency in Council Decision-Making

Council has been considering various resolutions regarding the transparency of its decision-making process. At the August meeting, Council voted to request that minutes and reports from meetings of the Board of Directors and Council be posted to the APA website as soon as possible after each meeting. A motion to publish Council member votes on the APA website was postponed, as this would require suspension of current Council rules.

Fall 2017, Volume 73, Issue 2.