National Register helps newer psychologists to relocate

By James Bradshaw Assistant Editor
July 1, 2005 - Last updated: May 31, 2011

Of the three organizations that maintain credentials records to aid psychologists in relocating from one jurisdiction to another, only the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology is accessible to those with less than five years in practice.

Andrew Boucher, mobility coordinator for the National Register, said that is a valuable aspect of the Register’s services, as evidenced in a recent survey of psychology students. “The most important issue for the students is mobility,” Boucher said.

Boucher said it is perhaps not surprising that members of the new generation of psychologists are more likely to relocate than their older colleagues, as in most professions these days, but the number of psychologists seeking to change jurisdictions appears to be growing exponentially.

In the 12 months ending on June 1 last year, 75 requests were received by the National Register for verification of credentials for psychologists, Boucher said. In the 12 months leading up to this June 1, the Register received 148 requests, he said.

The actual number may be more, since licensing boards can go online directly to get verifications from the Register’s website – The requests have not been analyzed to determine how many involve relatively newly licensed psychologists, but the trend is obvious, Boucher said.

He said the register is primarily a credentialing agency for health service providers but aggressively joined the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) in the movement to improve interjurisdictional mobility about five years ago.
Boucher’s boss, the Register’s executive officer Judy Hall, Ph.D., said the effort is showing great progress.

“We have been extremely successful in our efforts to get endorsement of the National Register as another mobility mechanism so that psychologists have choices,” Hall said. She said work is in progress, often in tandem with ASPPB, to gain approval in several more states.

The ASPPB operates the “CPQ program” that awards Certificates of Professional Qualifications in Psychology, which are recognized by 34 jurisdictions in the U.S. and Canada as well as encouraging license reciprocity, which has been enacted in nine states and two provinces.

The National Register’s mobility program is recognized to varying degrees by 37 U.S. and Canadian jurisdictions.

The other organization that maintains credentials records that can facilitate a change of jurisdiction is the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP), which issues credentials in 13 specialty areas, such as clinical, school or forensic psychology, for those who complete required postdoctoral training and pass rigorous written and oral exams.

Boucher said the Register is cooperating rather than competing in the mobility movement and encourages licensing jurisdictions to accept all three, since the basic requirements for psychologists are similar.

To meet requirements for any of the programs a psychologist must have a doctoral degree, be currently licensed or registered to practice, have a minimum of two years supervised experience and a discipline-free record. The most significant difference is that the ASPPB and the ABPP require a minimum of five years in independent practice, which is not required for membership in the National Register.

Boucher said the thinking by the other professional organizations is that a psychologist should have at least a five-year discipline-free track record to demonstrate competence, but his research shows that disciplinary actions most commonly are taken against those who have been in practice for some time. “The average is roughly 16 years,” Boucher said.

About 13,000 of the 20,000 registered with the three organizations are members of the National Register.

Costs vary in the programs. For the ASPPB, the fee for a CPQ or to establish a credentials bank is $175. CPQs can be renewed every two years for $80 and the credentials bank has a maintenance fee of $75 every two years.

The National Register has an initial $180 credentials review fee and a $150 registration. Annual dues are $145.

Credentialing by the ABPP can vary according to specialty and includes a $125 application and credentials review charge, fees of $200 to $300 for written exams and a $450 fee for an oral exam.

When jurisdictions accept the standards of any or all of the programs, it also makes it easier for psychologists to qualify to practice in multiple jurisdictions, which is important for those whose practices are located near jurisdictional borders.

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