professions (clinical social workers, professional counselors, and marriage and family therapists) although their education and training requirements are far more stringent.
According to a 1980’s national survey, psychologists are less likely than psychiatrists to treat patients with severe conditions, such as major depressive, manic or schizophrenic disorders and that persons with more significant impairments are more likely to seek care from psychiatrists in the first place (Knesper, Belcher, & Cross, 1989). The authors conclude that, for patients with less severe mental health conditions, psychologists present a more cost-effective therapeutic alternative. They note that expansions in reimbursement and scope of practice for psychologists may make them even more attractive for these consumers. Credentialing
State licensure of clinical psychologists did not begin until after World War II. By the late 1970s, all states had adopted such laws (Hogan, 1979). The American Psychological Association played an active role in this process, developing and promoting a model licensing law aimed at ensuring high professional standards and the right of psychologists to practice independently.
In order to obtain licensure as a psychologist in most states, a person is required to have completed a doctorate in psychology (either a PhD or a PsyD) from a program accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). In addition, s/he must have completed a pre- doctoral internship (typically one year long) and a postdoctoral residency (also one year long). Many of these highly structured clinical training programs are also accredited by the APA. Some (but not all) state psychology boards consider the APA accreditation status of internships and residencies when making licensure decisions (Keilin et al., 2000).
During doctoral studies, the psychology graduate student is expected to gain mastery of subject areas including but not limited to: biological, cognitive, affective and social aspects of behavior; history and systems of psychology; research methods and techniques of data analysis; human development; psychopathology; professional standards and ethics; problem assessment and implementation of appropriate intervention strategies. S/he is expected to spend a minimum of three years in full-time coursework (American Psychological Association, 2002). The PhD includes the requirement of a dissertation, as well.
As of October 2000, the APA had accredited over 200 doctoral programs in professional psychology (American Psychological Association, 2000). They are located in virtually every state, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and every Canadian province. While most are university-based, some are freestanding institutes, while others are affiliated with theological seminaries.