You need to be aware of the licensing and accreditation process to become a psychologist before you begin your education. The path to become a psychologist is a long one, so you should understand what you are getting yourself into. The rules to become a license psychologist will vary from state to state, but there are fundamental requirements that most states have.
Do all psychologists need to be licensed by the state?
The short answer to this question is yes. The problem is that many people working as therapists or counselors are commonly thought of as being psychologists when they are not. Many states allow for a person to become a licensed therapist without a graduate degree in psychology. They may provide counseling and therapy to individuals in a limited form, but they aren’t considered psychologists. To become a licensed psychologist, there are high levels of education required as well as a specific work experience and examinations to pass.
Educational requirements to become a licensed psychologist
With few exceptions, a person needs to earn a doctorate in psychology to become a clinical psychologist with their own practice. Most government positions will also require this as well as private institutions.
Many state laws are clear about the need for a doctorate, though there are some states that will issue a provisional license to those with a master’s degree. In cases such as this, a person will always be working under the supervision of a licensed clinical psychologist.
Work experience needed to become a licensed psychologist
Once you have earned your PhD, state laws will specify how much work experience you need in the field of psychology. This type of work experience consists of directly working with an individual patient or a group of patients, and it is always done under the supervision of a licensed clinical psychologist. There are many places this can take place. It may be in assistance to a clinical psychologist having his or her own practice, or it can be in a healthcare facility that has psychologists on their staff.
Testing and examinations needed to become a licensed psychologist
Once the required period of work experience has been finished, examination for a license can be applied for. The required work experience is usually specified by law in hours or years and must be documented. A typical time period is two years of supervised work experience. There is usually both a written and oral examination with minimum scores required to pass.
From there, you’ll be a licensed clinical psychologist and will be able to practice independently. The license will be good for the state it was issued in. However, some states have reciprocity agreements with other states, so it is easy to get a new license to practice psychology in another state.