What is Required to be Licensed to Practice Psychology?

Donald J Franklin, Phd is a New Jersey licensed psychologist who has been licensed since 1987 (NJ License # 35SI00224400).

What is involved in training a psychologist?

The minimal acceptable standard of training for a psychologist today is a doctoral degree in psychology or a closely allied field. Psychologists are "Doctors" but they are not physicians, and they do not prescribe medication. (Some psychologists do prescribe medication, either in special circumstances such as the military, or because of additional training in nursing or medicine).

The doctoral degree in psychology typically takes four to five years of full time graduate study beyond a college degree. The degree may be a Ph.D., a Psy.D. or an Ed.D., depending upon the graduate training program. The coursework includes training in the science of psychology, with core courses covering the social, developmental, learning and biological bases for human behavior. This typically includes training in personality theory, normal growth and development, and the nature of psychological problems and psychopathology. Specialized training is also provided in diagnostic evaluation techniques, psychological testing, and psychotherapy and/or counseling methods. Psychologists also learn how stress, traumatic events, aging, and cultural background affect human behavior as well. Many courses have practicum requirements, which combine clinical experience and classroom knowledge. 

New Jersey Requires Psychologists in Private Practice to be Licensed 

All 50 states have licensing requirements for psychologists which are designed to protect the public by preventing inexperienced or untrained individuals from offering psychological services. These requirements vary somewhat from state to state, but generally include a doctoral degree in psychology, or a closely related field, from an approved graduate degree program.

The licensing requirements in each state also describe the miniimum amount of supervised experience, under a licensed psychologist, that is required for independent practice. The supervised experience is usually either one or two years of full time practice.  In New Jersey, two years of full time supervised experience are required before an individual can apply to take the licensing exam. At least one year of this experience must be completed after the doctoral degree. This experience is in addition to any practicums a psychologist might complete as part of the doctoral degree.

Finally, licensed psychologists in all 50 states must pass a licensing exam before they are allowed to practice independently, without supervision. Most states, including New Jersey, use The Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), which was developed by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. Some states require a separate exam on the laws governing psychology in their state. Other states, like New Jersey, require an additional oral exam to assess the applicant's practical application of knowledge about psychology. 

In New Jersey, the oral exam includes a written component, which requires the psychologist to describe a specific case, and also to outline any specialty areas that psychologist proposes to include in his/her practice. Members of the licensing board then meet with the psychologist to ask questions about his or her training, plans for practice, and knowledge of ethical principles relating to the practice of psychology, as well as any other questions deemed relevant to independent practice. Following the oral exam, the entire licensing board must vote regarding the license application, after all the information in the application has been reviewed.