North Carolina began licensing psychological associates in 1968, making LPAs the first master’s-level mental health care providers of any discipline to be licensed by the state.
With legally-mandated supervision, North Carolina’s qualified, licensed, master’s-level psychological associates are allowed to render the same services as PhD-level licensed psychologists. These services include interviewing, administering and interpreting tests of mental abilities, interests, aptitudes and personality characteristics for the purposes of psychological evaluation, educational or vocational selection, personnel selection, guidance or placement. LPAs also counsel clients to help them manage emotional and behavioral problems.
Our clients include people with severe and persistent mental illnesses, people with mental handicaps, people in correctional facilities, students in our school systems, psychiatric hospital patients, outpatients of mental health centers and individuals seeking personal and career guidance.
Recent data from the North Carolina Psychology Board shows there are 1,239 Licensed Psychological Associates in the state, including 969 active and 270 inactive LPAs. Of these—
- 56.7%, or 703 LPAs are at supervisory level 1, subject to 1 to 4 hours of supervision a month for each work setting
- 6.5%, or 81, are at supervisory level 2, indicating they are subject to 1 or 2 hours of supervision a month
- 36%, or 450, are at supervisory level 3, indicating they have been practicing under supervision six or more years and are subject to 1 hour of monthly supervision for each work setting
Master’s-level psychologists comprise about 34% of all licensed psychologists in North Carolina, but they provide most of the psychology services directly to clients, funded by state and federal dollars. They also provide most of the services to clients in rural counties.
Master’s-level psychologists are the primary providers of psychological services in 62 counties. In 2005, 16 of North Carolina’s 100 counties were without an LPA, compared with 25 counties without a licensed PhD-level psychologist.
According to a 2007 report by the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research on trends in licensed health professions in North Carolina, growth in the supply of LPAs, relative to the population, was rapid until 1985, held steady between 1985 and 1992, increased from 1992 to 1995 and has been declining since then.