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Counseling Psychology and Master’s Level Training Michael J. Scheel, Ph.D. University of Nebraska-Lincoln CCPTP Midwinter Meeting, 2011 Tamaya, NM.

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Presentation on theme: "Counseling Psychology and Master’s Level Training Michael J. Scheel, Ph.D. University of Nebraska-Lincoln CCPTP Midwinter Meeting, 2011 Tamaya, NM."— Presentation transcript:

1 Counseling Psychology and Master’s Level Training Michael J. Scheel, Ph.D. University of Nebraska-Lincoln CCPTP Midwinter Meeting, 2011 Tamaya, NM

2 Overview 1) Why is the Master’s education issue important to counseling psychology? 2) Historical overview 3) Current status 4) Specific recommendations

3 Why is Master’s education important for Counseling Psychology? 1) Issue of competency with several forces pushing in (e.g., online counseling programs; for profit institutions) - The Benchmark Competencies document does not include competence guidelines at the MA level. This is an area needing development to help fill the void in the spectrum of psychology training at the master’s level. - Incompetence in the practice of psychology and counseling is an ethical issue – poor therapy may not help and it may harm the public - Incompetent practice negatively influences the professions of counseling and of psychology because the public often groups the two together. We should be interested in how the public views mental health practice as a profession that includes both counselors and psychologists.

4 Why is Master’s education important for Counseling Psychology? 2) Many counseling psych programs in Colleges of Education have master’s programs that pay the bills. - Students in MA programs graduate sooner resulting in more credit hour production. - Times are hard with the reality of budget cuts. Who gets cut, the expensive doctoral program or the MA program with more students who graduate sooner? - MA programs address the service mission of the College - School counseling programs are desired in C’s of Ed (must meet the standards of state offices of education) - Important to align counseling psychology programs w/ the missions of Colleges of Ed (E.g., at UNL priorities of our strategic plan include undergraduate education; cultural diversity; innovative research; 21 st C teaching and learning; international education)

5 Why is Master’s education important for Counseling Psychology? 3) Important for professional psychology to stop ignoring master’s psychology education. Instead, psychology can and should consider and include master’s level psychology education in the spectrum of psychology education and training that high school through doctoral training. - By doing so, psychology and more specifically counseling psychology can influence standards of training and of practice at the master’s level

6 Why is Master’s education important for Counseling Psychology? 4) The CACREP rule change disallowing counseling psychology-trained faculty from being core faculty in CACREP accredited programs effectively bars counseling psychology from master’s education. - Besides the obvious threat to counseling psychology programs in Colleges of Education, counseling psychology graduates are negatively affected in the job market (i.e., academic positions in master’s programs) - A reverberating effect is being felt. VA Hospitals now require CACREP training of master’s level counselors. Master’s state licensing boards could move toward only licensing CACREP graduates ala NJ. - Deans of C of Education may choose MA programs over PhD programs; may choose to hire counselor ed faculty for positions previously occupied by counseling psychology faculty

7 Historical Overview  The minimal educational requirement for the granting of the title Psychologist should be the doctoral degree (APA, 1947; …. Robiner, Arbisi, & Edwall, 1994)  Individuals with master’s degrees are “best prepared to serve as psychological technicians” (APA Committee on Subdoctoral Education, 1955).  Psych. Tech’s work is under the supervision of psychologists in the (a) administration and interpretation of tests; (b) guidance counseling; (c) delivering psychoeducational instruction; (d) constructing basic statistics and tests (APA Education and Training Board, 1952).

8 Early history  APA Committee on Subdoctoral Education (1955) supported increases in the role at the MA level due to a continuing and growing social demand for psychological services with important duties that would not require a doctoral degree (as opposed to a resolution to eliminate granting degrees at the master’s level).  Recommended a 2-year curriculum that would eliminate “existing (in 1955) ambiguity related to the quality of various master’s degree programs and foster an inclusive atmosphere for master’s level technicians within the field of psychology and APA” (McPherson, et al., 2000).  The committee’s stance was re-affirmed several times until the Vail conference of 1973.

9 Vail National Training Conference  Korman (1974) reported “the idea of a career ladder should be replaced by the more inclusive concept of a career lattice---an open-ended occupational structure which encourages broader skill acquisition at any given level in addition to upward professional movement; this would encourage continued training and development, leading to functional differentiation of skills at every performance level” (p. 443). (This position does not preclude independent practice at the master’s level)

10 Division 17 Master’s Issue Special Task Group (1999)  Members: Louise Douce; Rod Goodyear (Chair), Jim Lichtenberg, Bob McPherson, and Sandy Shullman  Graded levels of training and practice are common to most professions  “multiple levels of psychology training are recognized by, for example, APA’s Board of Educational Affairs both by its member composition and the focus of its meetings. However, of these levels, masters level training receives the least attention during BEA meetings. In this respect, it seems to validate Hays-Thomas’s (2000) assertion that organized psychology constantly is engaged in a ‘silent conversation’ on this issue” ( Douce et al., 2001).

11 Types of master’s degrees  Four kinds of master’s degrees, each presenting unique circumstances: (1) the "consolation prize" master’s, awarded to those deemed unable to complete satisfactorily their work in a doctoral program; (2) the master’s routinely awarded within the context of doctoral preparation; (3) the research master’s, designed to prepare students to enter a doctoral program at another institution; (4) and the truly "terminal" master’s degree from an applied program designed to prepare graduates for employment.  Even this oversimplifies, for often people in the terminal masters degree programs will decide later to pursue a doctorate.  In 1999, APA’s Research Office surveyed people who had earned their masters degrees in psychology in Of those, 27% went on to graduate school. 67% were employed. 

12 Bias against master’s level practitioners  Two interrelated factors driving the concern about masters level practitioners are the perceptions that (a) there is a market glut of practitioners and (b) masters level practitioners are threatening the livelihood and/or income of doctoral level psychologists. Psychology has some responsibility for this state of affairs in at least two respects:  Psychology has failed (in Louise Douce’s words), to “practice professional birth control” (i.e., collectively, we have no mechanism – as medicine does – for regulating the numbers of program graduates).  The practice of psychology has been defined narrowly as the practice of psychotherapy (although PsyD.’s are even more guilty of this than Ph.D.s: Many of them actually should be considered to have a “doctor of psychotherapy” ). Yet the training (Ph.D.) psychologists receive prepares them for much more than this.

13 Indices of Competence  Therapeutic Competence: Lichtenberg and McPherson (2000) summarized the research literature bearing on how levels of training affect professional practice. Some literature reviews have concluded that amount of training has minimal correlation with therapeutic effectiveness. Others have found some relatively small trends (e.g., lengths clients are in therapy; client satisfaction, Stein & Lambert, 1995)  EPPP scores – clear differentiation  Ethical and legal violations – no evidence of differences between MA and PhD practitioners.

14 Points of Agreement and Disagreement within the STG (Douce et al., 1999)  Points of Agreement – - Counseling = psychotherapy; - Psychology is a discipline based profession; counseling is a technique based profession (not sure what this means) - Masters level programs exist for historical and other reasons - MA grads are ready for practice - Our MA students should not be punished for our Guild issues - Only the doctoral level of training should be referred to as psychologist

15 Points of Disagreement - whether we train our students for independent practice - what we call our masters level graduates - the future of doctoral and masters training in counseling psychology

16 The stance of the ‘Larger APA’ (McPherson, et al., 2000) 1) The title of psychologist is exclusive to the doctorate 2) Master’s-level clinicians provide a service for which there are real and necessary demands 3) The work of Master’s level clinicians should be under the supervision of doctoral-level psychologists (this has become a mute point with most states granting independent practice to MA practitioners)

17 Counseling psychology’s ambivalent relationship with master’s-level training  McPherson, R. H., Pisecco, S., Elman, N., Crosbie-Burnett, M. & Sayger, T. V. (2000). TCP. - “The creation of independent practice legislation for master’s level providers in the 90’s resulted in decreased tension between doctoral and master’s level clinicians and created recognizable and professionally acknowledged distinctions between the duties of a psychologist versus those of a counselor.” - Thus, the issue of independent practice has become a mute issue. Independent practice at the MA level is here to stay.

18 Distinctiveness between doctoral and master’s level clinicians  Competency – Conflicting research findings of comparison studies between master’s and doctoral level practitioners with more studies demonstrating no significant differences  A consistent pattern of differences is demonstrated through the EPPP with master’s level earning lower scores with pass rates of master’s level well below the 80% pass rate of the doctoral level.  The scientist-practitioner training model - A 2 or 3 year curriculum is not sufficient to provide a student with the skills necessary to operate competently in both practice and science

19 Defining the issues for Counseling Psychology  Independent practice is a reality: The independent practice issue has largely been resolved with 46 states in 2000 possessing legislation recognizing master’s level practice without supervision  McPherson et al. (2000) saw the 2 most important issues remaining in counseling psychology to be 1) counseling psychology’s role in the training of master’s level clinicians and 2) MA clinicians efforts to obtain practice and title parity with psychologists

20 Realities  Counseling Psychology has a long tradition of association with counseling, counselor education, and master’s level training  MA programs produce a significant amount of revenue for colleges and universities  MA programs have higher enrollment rates than PHD programs  A great demand exists for MA training  Counseling Psychology programs can and do provide excellent training at the master’s level

21 Counseling Psychology’s responsibility  Who is best qualified to train master’s level professionals? A strong case can be made for counseling psychology. We see psychotherapy through the lens of common factors and a contextual psychotherapy model not specific techniques.  “Although it is easy to become entrapped in adversarial debates about doctoral- and master’s-level issues, we must consider the best interests of the field and those of the communities for whom our students (master’s and doctoral graduates) will provide services” (McPherson et al., p. 695).

22 Master’s level training recommendations of McPherson et al. (2000) 1) The doctorate should continue to serve as the requisite educational requirement for the title of psychologist 2) “We suggest that the APA Division 17-Counseling Psychology develop a plan of action sensitive to the social and political pressures that are shaping this issue” (p. 695). 3) Master’s level professionals, with the appropriate education and training can independently practice.

23 New MA Accreditation Status  New accreditation is almost in place through MPAC, soon to be MPCAC (Master’s Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council)  The new accreditation is based on the theme of inclusiveness; programs define themselves and specify how they will meet the requirements of the training model they designate  The new accreditation is inclusive and based on overarching principles that emphasize ethical practice, cultural and ethnic diversity, evidence based practice, and a focus on social justice

24 Specific Recommendations 1) Form a Committee of Academic Programs from CCPTP who will pilot the new accreditation (UNL, Wisconsin- Milwaukee, Denver, UND, Oklahoma State, SUNY Albany, Lehigh, Fordham, Southern Mississippi…..) 2) Form a Committee from CCPTP to contact master’s state licensing boards to inform them of the new accreditation. Representatives from each state need to come forward.  MPCAC must move toward CHEA designation


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