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What is the Difference Between a Psychologist and Other Mental Health Providers in Florida?

Psychology Professional Issues 3/21/2004

Clinical Psychology Associates of North Central Florida  CPANCF.COM

by Ernest J. Bordini, Ph.D.

 The following information was correct at the time of the March 2004 writing. Consult the Florida Department of Health and Florida Chapter 490 for up to date information regarding licensed psychologists in the State of Florida. The Florida Department of Health allows you to determine if someone is licensed to practice in Florida.


Psychology Licensure in the State of Florida - What is the difference between a psychologist and other mental health providers?

In order to be eligible for licensure as a Psychologist in the state of Florida, one must have attained at minimum, a doctoral level degree such as a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy), a Psy.D. (Doctor of Psychology), or an Ed.D. (Doctor of Education) from an educational institution accredited by an agency recognized by the US Department of Education or recognized as a member in good standing with the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.

This doctoral-level training generally encompasses between 4-6 years (at least 60 semester hours) of graduate level education including course work specific to psychological assessment, treatment, and research methodology, among others, in both didactic environments and in supervised clinical practica. In addition,a one-year internship within an accredited psychology internship program is required upon completion of course requirements. Licensure as a Psychologist also requires at least 2 years or 4000 hours of experience in the field of psychology in association with or under the supervision of a licensed psychologist meeting the academic and experience requirements as outlined in Florida Statutes of a licensed psychologist. Successful completion of a state licensing examination as well as a rules and regulations examination is required prior to registration with the Florida Department of Health as a psychologist.

Psychologists scope of practice is exclusive to licensed psychologist with respect to being able to perform “psychological testing”, “psychological evaluation”, or “psychological assessment”. Only licensed psychologists and licensed school psychologists can administer and interpret psychological tests such as IQ tests and learning tests to qualify children or adults for special educational services through the Florida Department of Education.

By contrast, the titles clinical social worker, mental health counselor, and marriage and family therapist are defined under chapter 491 (Clinical, Counseling, and Psychotherapy Services) of the Florida state statutes.

The practice of clinical social work, mental health counseling, or marriage and family therapy, as described by Chapter 491.003 of the Florida statutes, includes the use of methods in assessment and treatment of a “psychological nature” specific to the area of educational focus, but is prohibited from the use of the term "psychological” in the labeling or description of such activities.

Clinical social workers are eligible for licensure in Florida as such upon providing proof of attaining at minimum a Master’s Degreefrom a graduate school of social work accredited by either the Council on Social Work Education or by the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work, or by another foreign school deemed equivalent by the Council on Social Work Education. Social work graduate education is noted to require the completion of 24 semester hours in course work specific to human behavior and practice methods. Licensure as a social worker in Florida also requires at least 2 years of supervised clinical work experience subsequent to degree completion. Theory and practice examination, as well as rules and regulation state examinations are required.


Marriage and family therapists are eligible for licensure as such given the completion of 36 semester hours of graduate-level course work in specified course work including assessment and treatment of family and marriage issues, and the attainment of a master’s degree in this area from an accredited institution (by a regional accrediting body recognized by the Commission on Recognition of Postsecondary Accreditation). A minimum of 1 supervised clinical practicum, internship, or field experience in which the individual obtains 180 direct client contact hours under the supervision of a licensed marriage and family therapist. Other stipulations are admitted for those without documentation of specified course work, including further supervised practical experience, and the completion of similar course work or clinical experiences under supervision. A theory and practice examination as well as a rules and regulations examination are required by the state.

Licensure as a mental health counselor requires a master’s degree with at least 33 semester hours of didactics from a mental health counseling program accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, with specific content course work, primarily in assessment and counseling theory. Licensure also requires at least 1000 hours of university-sponsored supervised clinical practicum, internship, or field experience. Theory and practice, as well as rules and regulations examinations are also required by the state.


The following table provides a brief comparison of he educational requirements for licensure of Psychologists, Clinical Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Mental Health Counselors in the state of Florida as outlined in State Statutes, Chapters 490 and 491.        

Minimal Requirement for Florida Licensure:

 

 


Degree Required


Semester Hours of
graduate level
course work


Supervised
Clinical
Experience


Examination


Psychologist


Doctorate–Ph.D.,
Psy.D., or Ed.D.


minimum of 60
semester hours of
didactic course
work– 4-6 years of
graduate school


1-year internship,
4000 hours
supervised practice,
including direct
patient contact


Doctoral qualifying
examination,
Doctoral
dissertation (as
required by degree-granting institution),
state theory &
practice, and rules
& regulations
examinations


Clinical Social
Worker


Master’s Degree


minimum of 24
semester hours of
specific didactic
course work


2 years supervised
work experience


Master’s or
Doctoral thesis (as
required by degree-granting institution),
state theory &
practice, and rules
& regulations
examinations


Marriage and
Family Therapist


Master’s degree


minimum of 36
hours of specific
graduate level
course work


1 supervised
clinical practicum,
internship, or field
experience, 180
direct patient
contact hours


Master’s thesis (as
required by degree-granting institution),
state theory &
practice, and rules
& regulations
examinations


Mental Health
Counselor


Master’s degree


minimum of 33
semester hours of
specific didactic
course work


1000 hours of
university-sponsored
supervised clinical
practicum


Master’s thesis (as
required by degree-granting institution),
state theory &
practice, and rules
& regulations
examinations


 

Finally, be aware of individuals attempting to provide mental health counseling services, psychological testing services, or psychological services under the guise of a certification. 

 

Anyone performing diagnosis, testing or treatment for a mental health, developmental, neurological or psychiatric condition should be licensed in the State of Florida. Some dubious practitioners mislead consumers by stating they are licensed or certifies but hide the fact they are on licensed in another state.  A good clue is that they do not use any recognized Florida license or profession. 

 

Psychology residents, interns or students should be indentified as such and advertising of their services should make it clear that they are supervised and there should be some indication of who the supervisor is.  Psychology residents must have you sign a form as to who their primary supervisor is and how to reach them.  They will not show up in the licensed provider search below, but their primary supervisor should.

To see if a practitioner is licensed in Florida , the Department of Florida (and most states) provides an easy way to check:  Check Florida Licensure. 

 

To report unlicensed activity in Florida use this link: Report Unlicensed Activity.

 

 

 

 
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