Psychologist Licensure Requirements in West Virginia

The West Virginia Board of Examiners of Psychologists licenses psychologists with both master’s and doctoral level education (http://www.wvpsychbd.org/). There is no distinction in scope of practice once full licensure has been attained. However, psychologists who have a master’s as their highest degree must work under supervision for several years longer before they achieve full licensure.

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Requirements for Doctoral Education

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Licensure at the doctoral level is dependent on graduation from a regionally accredited educational institution. At least half of credits must be post-master and “psychological in nature”. The Board notes that some courses may be accepted as psychological even if the word ‘psychology’ does not appear. However, they must be taught by a professional with a graduate psychology degree.

The Board notes that distance programs are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but must be found equivalent to APA-accredited programs.

Supervised Experience for Psychologists with Doctoral Education

Doctoral level psychologists will need a total of two years of supervised experience.

The first year is typically earned in an APA-accredited internship or in a non-APA internship that is under the direction of the psychology program. At least 25% of the internship is to be spent in direct client contact – this is 500 hours. There are to be two hours of regularly scheduled individual supervision per 40-hour week and two hours of additional learning activities like group-supervision or co-therapy sessions.

A student may opt for a part-time internship experience, but in all but “exceptional circumstances”, the student is expected to complete the internship in no more than 24 months.

Before beginning postdoctoral practice, a candidate must submit paperwork to the Board; an approved candidate will become a “Supervised-Psychologist”. The supervisee must have a supervisor who has met requirements beyond those required for initial licensure and has been issued a gold card indicating such status. West Virginia allows fees to be paid for supervision. There is a list of approved supervisors available on the Board site (http://www.wvpsychbd.org/SuperviseePages.htm).

During the postdoctoral period, the Supervised-Psychologist must have at least one hour a week of individual supervision (even if working part-time). Sessions must take place at least once every two weeks. There must be a total of one hour for every 20 hours of clinical practice. Additionally, the supervisor must be available for telephone consultation at other times when the Supervised-Psychologist is practicing. The supervisor will take professional responsibility and co-sign documents.

The activities a psychologist carries out under supervision will play a large role in determining scope of practice later. Supervised-Psychologists are subject to quarterly reports.

Education and Experience Requirements for Psychologists with Master’s Degrees

A psychologist must earn a master’s at a regionally accredited institution in a department of psychology or educational psychology (or in another department that includes ‘psychology’ or ‘psychological’). To be license-qualifying at the master’s level, at least 80% of the work must be campus-based; the practicum and thesis are not figured into this total. The program must include at least 50 credit hours of coursework. The following must be covered: psychopathology, biological bases of behavior, clinical interviewing, diagnosis and treatment planning, adult and child assessment, tests and measurements, psychotherapy, and ethics. There must be clinical practicum and internship experiences.

A master’s level candidate must work under supervision for a minimum of five years in order to earn licensing. Three work samples must be submitted to the Board at the midpoint. These will guide future supervision.

The Examination Process

The psychologist must pass two examinations: a national board examination and a state oral examination.

The Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) was developed by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards and is administered throughout the nation. Candidates must have their education evaluated by the state board before they can be authorized to test. They may visit the ASPPB site in advance, though, for candidate bulletins and study resources (www.asppb.net).

The candidate must take the EPPP by the end of the first year as a Supervised-Psychologist. A failure will not disqualify, but the examination must be passed by the end of the second year.

The oral examination is not taken until all requirements (including supervised practice) have been met.

The purpose of the oral examination is to determine the limits of the psychologist’s scope of practice as well as to assess knowledge of matters like legalities and ethics. The candidate will present documents that represent his or her range of competencies and intended scope of practice. Among the documents will be a supervision report, a competency form, and a minimum of three work samples. The Board has published several information sheets to let Supervised-Psychologists know what to expect at the examination and to help them prepare (http://www.wvpsychbd.org/oral%20examination%20materials.htm).

In order to pass, at least 60% of members in attendance must confer. A failure results in the loss of practice privileges. However, the Board may offer feedback and allow for reexamination. In some cases, the examinee may be granted a continuance. The Board will make specific requirements — for example, further supervised practice — and grant the candidate up to a year to fulfill them.

Psychologists who later wish to expand their scope of independent practice must submit evidence of appropriate education.

The Application Process

Candidates make their first application to the Board after educational requirements have been met. They should contact the Board to receive application packets (http://www.wvpsychbd.org/Requirements%20for%20Licensure.htm).

Fees are as follows: $100 for application, $100 for temporary licensure, and $350 for oral examination. There is a $100 fee for continuation of the oral examination (if required).

EPPP candidates will pay a $50 fee to West Virginia for eligibility and then a $600 fee to the examination company.

School Psychologist Requirements in West Virginia

The Board also issues licenses to school psychologists at two levels. Level 1 is appropriate for an individual who is an employee or contract worker on “school board property”; level 2 broadens the scope of practice. Either level can be attained by a professional with a master’s degree. A doctorally educated psychologist, though, can achieve level 2 licensing after just one year of supervised practice beyond internship.

School psychologists take the Praxis as their written examination.

Out-of-State Psychologists

Psychologists who are licensed in jurisdictions with at least equivalent standards may be granted reciprocal licenses. The oral examination will be required. However, the out-of-state licensee can be granted a temporary license in the interim. The temporary license is valid for 90 days.

A nonresident may be issued a temporary permit which will authorize up to 90 days of practice over the course of a calendar year. A temporary permit is not required for a nonresident who is duly licensed in another state that has equivalent requirements and who practices in West Virginia no more than ten days out of the year.

Additional Information

If you are still in High School, hold a High School Diploma/GED, hold a bachelor’s degree, or hold a master’s degree check out suggested steps to take along the path to become a Licensed Psychologist in West Virginia.

West Virginia is one of just two states that licenses master’s level professionals as psychologists. It is the only state that does not differentiate master’s and doctoral level psychologists by title. Candidates should be aware that there have been movements in recent years to change the standard of practice and give master’s level professionals a lower title like associate.

The Board may be contacted at (304) 558-3040. The West Virginia Psychological Association is an additional resource about legislative and professional issues (http://www.wvpsychology.org).

The West Virginia Board of Examiners of Psychologists licenses psychologists with both master’s and doctoral level education (http://www.wvpsychbd.org/).