Newsletter: From the Office of the President

 
FROM THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT:

Should MPA Exclusively Represent Only Doctoral Level Psychologists?
By Louis Post, Ph.D.

As many of you know, MPA has been working to revise the scope of practice of LLPs to enable them to engage in the independent practice of psychotherapy. 
The current draft of the proposed legislation includes the following provisions:
 
  • Affirms the title “Psychologist” for Doctoral-level professionals through a change in title from “Limited License Psychologist” to “Licensed Psychological Practitioner” for Master’s-level licensure.
  • Defines the practice of psychotherapy and limits the practice of persons with a Master’s degree to psychotherapy, not the broader scope of practice of psychology. 
  • Allows persons with a Master’s degree in psychology from a school meeting the current criteria of the Board of Psychology to engage in the practice of psychotherapy without supervision after 6,000 hours of supervised practice and after passing the Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology at the level currently set by the Board of Psychology.  Currently, LLPs must have lifetime supervision and pass the EPPP. 
  • Eliminates the LLP title for future licensees. Current LLPs are provided the option of being “grandfathered” into the LPA title or retaining their LLP under the current rules.
  • Changes in supervision requirements for the practice of psychotherapy create parity for persons with a Master’s degree in psychology with the standards of practice for other Master’s-level mental health providers.
  • Eliminates the restrictions on advertising for the LPA.  Currently, LLPs cannot advertise.
  • The proposed legislation would continue to require supervision and countersigning by a Doctoral-level psychologist of the administration, production and distribution of written or verbal psychological testing, evaluations or reports in clinical records by Masters-trained practitioners, as required in current law.
  • The current bill does not change the supervision exemption for LLPs or LPAs working in the public or non-profit center that is in the current statute.
At the present time there are in Michigan 2,923 Fully Licensed Psychologists and 3,889 Limited Licensed Psychologists. If the proposed legislation passes and LLPs are able to engage in the independent practice of psychotherapy, should they be able to join MPA as full voting members?
 
The MPA Board has taken a preliminary look at this question. Not surprisingly there is no Board consensus as to the best course to follow. Some Board members fear that having LLPs join as full MPA members would quickly result in a loss of differentiation regarding the scope of practice and training distinguishing FLPs and LLPs. Because of LLP’s greater number, as compared to FLPs, there is legitimate concern that MPA would cease to represent the interests of doctoral level psychologists. It has also been pointed out that while MPA is the only professional group in Michigan representing FLPs, LLPs already have a state association which they can join to represent their interests.
 
Proponents of having LLPs join MPA as full voting members point out that a bylaws revision can insure that LLPs are not able to “take over” the organization. The proponents make the argument that passage of the proposed legislation would result in a significant  decrease in turf issues between FLPs and LLPs,  making it much more feasible for MPA to represent the respective interests of everyone. Board members advocating full membership for LLP’s opine that while MPA is not going to be able to prevent insurers from reimbursing LLPs, an MPA representing the interests of both LLPs and FLPs in Michigan, would produce a much more powerful and influential organization, with corresponding benefits to the health of the citizens of Michigan and the professional well being of all FLPs and LLPs.
 
I am very interested in learning about your views regarding this complicated question. You can contact me at lpost48@gmail.com.
 
To comment on this column, contact Louis Post, Ph.D. at lpost48@gmail.com