become APA-accredited, doctoral programs must demonstrate
that their curricula prepare students for entry into practice.
“Continuing with the old policy presented a barrier that kept
fully trained entry-level psychologists from actually entering
practice, even when they were pursuing advanced training
opportunities,” says Belar. “Moreover, many so-called postdocs
were not really organized, sequential training experiences but
simply a collection of supervised hours.”
Postdoctoral training is still important for psychologists
seeking mobility, specialty certification or just continuing
professional development, emphasizes Judy E. Hall, PhD,
executive officer of the National Register of Health Service
Providers in Psychology. “The difference,” she says, “is whether
one gains that postdoctoral experience with or without a
The policy change has worked out well for many early career
psychologists, including Owen J. Bargreen, PsyD. Thanks to
Washington State’s revised law, he was able to launch his Everett,
Wash., practice soon after graduating from the California
School of Professional Psychology in 2007.
“Because California has a postdoc requirement, I had many
colleagues who were doing postdocs while I was getting my
practice started,” says Bargreen, who plans to spend his career in
his home state. “I thought that having one yearlong practicum
and two full-time predoctoral internships was enough clinical
training to get me started.”
But now some are questioning the wisdom of APA’s policy
The change was well-intentioned, but solving one problem
— at least for students in some states — has brought new
difficulties, says APA Recording Secretary Barry Anton, PhD.
Say you decide to take advantage of Washington state’s law
and skip the postdoc, says Anton. “If you intend to practice in
Washington State from the day you get your degree to the day
you retire, you’re not going to have any problems,” he says. “But
if you have any intention of going to another jurisdiction, you
could have a problem.”
Just moving across the border to Oregon could be difficult,
Anton points out, since Oregon still requires a postdoc. “To get
licensed there, you’d have to do a postdoctoral year — if you
could find a way to do that,” he says.
Because of these mobility concerns, says Anton, many
training directors are urging students to do postdocs even in
states that don’t require them.
Similarly, the American Psychological Association of
Graduate Students (APAGS) suggests that students who opt
out of postdocs get — and document — supervised experience
even after they’re licensed. But even then, warns APAGS Chair-elect Ali Mattu, you have to realize that some states won’t
count hours accrued after licensure as fulfilling the postdoc
requirement, even if you’re supervised.
“If there’s any chance you might move after graduation, the
only safe option is to do a supervised postdoc,” says Mattu. “If
moving may be in your future, get your hours and study for
the Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology, but
hold off on getting licensed until you have satisfied the postdoc
Even moving between two states that don’t require postdocs
can be difficult, says Stephen T. DeMers, EdD, executive
officer of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology
Should you bank your credentials?
When a West Coast psychologist wanted to
move to new York to be closer to his family, the
state’s licensing board required a letter from
his internship supervisor. Unfortunately, the
supervisor had died long before. As a result, the
psychologist wasn’t eligible for licensure.
When Ali Mattu, chair-elect of the American
Psychological Association of Graduate Students,
heard the psychologist’s tale, he immediately
added credentials banking to his to-do list. “that
story really scared me,” says Mattu, who is
doing an externship at the Columbia University
Center for Anxiety and related Disorders. “I
don’t want that to happen to me.”
Credentials banking — submitting
documentation about your internship, doctoral
degree, postdoc and other credentials to a
central repository for verification and storage —
can offer peace of mind as well as convenience.
the credentials banking movement grew
out of the frustration of senior psychologists
trying to get licensed in new jurisdictions,
says Judy e. Hall, PhD, executive officer of the
national register of Health Service Providers
in Psychology. “A supervisor may be dead,”
says Hall. “An internship may no longer exist.
or you may have had a job for which there’s no
now the push is to get graduate students
and early career psychologists to bank their
credentials as they earn them.
“What we’re saying to young people is to
get that supervisor to sign a form while they’re
right there in front of you, not 10 or 20 years
later,” says Stephen t. DeMers, edD, executive
officer of the Association of State and Provincial
Psychology Boards (ASPPB).
to learn more about the national register,
visit www.nationalregister.org. to learn more
about ASPPB’s Credentials Bank, visit www.