By Michael Erickson, PhD, President, Board of Psychology.
The Governor and state lawmakers did the right thing by passing and signing into law Assembly Bill 705 (Eggman). In doing so, they greatly enhanced the protection of particularly vulnerable mental health care patient populations.
The new law, which was sponsored by the California Board of Psychology, requires that employees in state, county, or municipal settings who provide psychological services are properly supervised and working toward licensure, or are licensed by the Board.
Beginning January 1, 2016, unlicensed individuals, who previously were exempt from licensure, must achieve licensure within five years from the date of employment or, if they are already employed in an exempt setting when the law takes effect, from January 1, 2016. This allows plenty of time for these individuals to fulfill the supervised hours requirement they need to become licensed.
The new law also requires that these exempt employees must have licensees of the Board as their primary supervisors, though they may be directly supervised by Marriage and Family Therapists, Clinical Social Workers, and Clinical Counselors. This helps ensure that the patients they treat receive services that meet the standards set for licensed psychologists and gives them the protection that the Board as a licensing body provides.
One result of this new statute is that it will likely lead to more professionals in public schools, community-based clinics and other locations where they can offer quality, affordable services that might not otherwise be available. It opens the door to more low- and no-cost services while maintaining the highest possible level of care and consumer protection for these vulnerable populations.
Access to quality mental health care can be crucial to preventing a wide range of problems in our communities – problems for which taxpayers could ultimately foot the bill. The successful passage of AB 705 through the legislative process could be an important first step toward reducing those problems.
The Board of Psychology’s mission is to advance quality psychological services for Californians by ensuring ethical and legal practice and supporting the evolution of the profession.
For information on how to become licensed, or for information about the Board of Psychology, visit us on the web at www.psychology.ca.gov