The pursuit of independence

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Dear Colleagues,

A petition has been submitted to the North Carolina Psychology Board (NCPB) to conduct rulemaking to amend Section 21 N.C.A.C. 54.2008(h) to eliminate career-long supervision of master's-level psychologists so that Licensed Psychological Associates (LPAs) can hold an independent and unrestricted license after three (3) years.  In substance, supervision would be required for a minimum of three (3) calendar years consisting of a minimum of 4,500 hours of post-licensure supervision.

The petitioners (listed below), have been working on this effort and brought forth this action as follows:

  • There are no reliable empirical data that indicate an increased risk of harm to patients/clients by allowing independent LPA practice after three years of supervision;
  • There are no reliable empirical data that indicate improvement in patient/client outcomes from career-long supervision;
  • Career-long supervision imposes an unjustifiable and inequitable economic burden on LPAs;
  • Career-long supervision unfairly disqualifies LPAs from receiving payment for services from many insurers and governmental entities;
  • Career-long supervision negatively impacts LPA employability in contrast to other licensed master's-level providers of mental health services;
  • Career-long supervision decreases the availability of LPAs to serve the public (particularly in rural and non-urban areas); and
  • The current supervision requirement has contributed to the decline of the psychology discipline in North Carolina relative to other licensed mental health care disciplines

The effect on existing practices would be to make psychological services more readily available to the public (particularly in rural and non-urban areas), less expensive, more readily covered by insurance and governmental programs; and would reduce operational costs to LPAs; all without sacrificing patient/client outcomes.

The petition for rule change is as follows:

Proposed Amended Rule 21 NCAC 54.2008(h)

After a minimum of 3 calendar years consisting of at least 4500 hours of post-licensure supervised practice, no further supervision is required provided that a Psychological Associate shall:

  1. Make application on an application form provided by the Board;
  2. Document that all performance ratings for the preceding 3 years and 4500 hours of post-licensure supervised practice have been average or above average;
  3. Have received at least one calendar year of supervision from the most recent supervisor; and
  4. Have the recommendation of the most recent supervisor that no further supervision be required.

The success of this action will benefit psychologists practicing in North Carolina and the provision of services for those in need, including, the ability to provide Telehealth services and volunteer services, and be eligible for accreditation with insurance panels - among other important issues currently curtailed or prohibited as a matter of the restricted license associated with Licensed Psychological Associates.

The petitioners have retained Everett Gaskins Hancock LLP, Attorneys and Counselors at Law, for legal representation in this matter. We (the petitioners) are advised that the NCPB has the authority to make this change within the provisions of the North Carolina Psychology Practice Act. Thus far, the petitioners have overseen the research necessary to support this action, the construction of the petition for the rule change, affidavits preparation from the six petitioners, and the delivery of the petition to the NCPB by our attorneys. Should the NCPB decline this request, we are prepared to move forward through the legal system.

The petitioners have worked to provide for a streamlined concerted plea focused solely on independent licensure. Should this action require the petitioners to take the next step through the legal system, we will require additional funding. The North Carolina Association of Professional Psychologists (NCAPP) is fully supporting this initiative. NCAPP has been revitalized with new leadership and reorganized in order to provide support for all psychologists practicing in North Carolina, and holds as a primary focus the fair and equitable treatment and representation of master’s level psychologists. NCAPP offers fee based membership to LPAs to provide advocacy and representation, as well as support for this petition. As an LPA, you are invited to become a member of NCAPP. We also invite you to offer support through donation options (on this website via PayPal) independent of membership.

The petitioners:

Janet Heuring, MA, LCAS, LPA, HSP-PA, CCTP

Carol E. Williams, MA, LPA, BCBA

Tara Luellen, MA, LPA, HSP-PA

Flora Dunbar, MA, LPC, LPA

Les Brinson, PhD, LP, HSP-P

Vinston J. Goldman, PhD, LP, HSP-P

Your help is greatly appreciated,
Sincerely, NCAPP


5 thoughts on “The pursuit of independence”

  1. Please keep me posted on this. I’ve been an LPA for 18 years and we used to do a lot of work to accomplish this independence. After years and years, I just gave up. If this goes through, I will make a contribution to your organization. I will probably be retiring in 2-3 years, but will help this fight if I can. Thank you for trying once more.

    1. Thank you for your support! We have been consulting with others who have “fought this fight” before. Insight from their efforts has been tremendously helpful. Please don’t give up! We’re confident we’re making good progress. We will update this site with events as they occur, and through email. Best Regards!

  2. Best wishes in your crusade. After 35 years, I will no longer renew my LPA-HSP. However, I will review your petition and would be most happy to subsequently relate multiple examples and anecdotes regarding the problems created and imposed by many of the current policies and procedures.
    While my son studied psychology as an undergraduate, I regrettably and pragmatically had to advise against his pursuit of it at the graduate level and as a profession. By then, the writing was already scrawled upon the wall, and I knew that he wanted to eventually have and support a family.
    Psychology is a science, vocation, and an avocation which I had passionately studied and pursued. Helping people and society, The usual idealistic stuff on steroids.
    Recently, I asked a clinical dIrector of a regional provider/manager of public sector MH/DD/SA Services about the status of LPAs in their coverage of more than a dozen NC counties. They had one on staff.
    On the other hand, a significant problem was that new MSWs were hired, supervised, LCSW’d, then rapidly left for the more lucrative private sector.

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