President's column

Our President discusses handling licensing issues when sport psychologists travel extensively with clients

By Jennifer Carter, PhD

One of the many aspects I've enjoyed this year as President of Division 47 is the opportunity to meet sport psychologists and encounter new questions and dilemmas. Shawn Mason from Johns Hopkins University emailed me a great question:

How do sport psychologists handle licensing issues when they work with athletes that travel extensively (e.g.golf)? Can they travel to events in a professional capacity where they don't hold a state license?

Excellent question, Shawn! It got me thinking how often I've traveled with teams out of state without really considering licensure laws, and my ignorance was one reason I wanted to highlight this issue. Many Division 47 members also travel internationally as well as work over the phone or internet with athletes.

Another aspect I love about Division 47 is our really smart and cool Executive Committee. So naturally I turned to them for their thoughts on this question.

Amy Athey pointed out most states have temporary practice guidelines (e.g. five days or less per year) wherein psychologists can work in another state without having to apply for permission from the state board. As with almost any licensing issue, the most prudent response would be to contact your state board to find out what your state's laws dictate (the gold standard). Many of us deal with last minute travel requests, so contacting your state board long before the request would be ideal.

Jack Watson added that we need to consider if the activity we'll be doing would meet the state's definition of practicing psychology. If so, most states allow a licensed professional to practice in another state for a limited time period (e.g. five to thirty days) and some states do not require permission for that time period.

Gloria Balague commented how our work via phone and internet across state lines also presents licensure issues. Steve Portenga noted the Society of Consulting Psychology (Division 13) faces similar dilemmas and has been working with APA to address these concerns. The President of the Society of Industrial & Organizational Psychology (Division 14) Eduardo Salas also contacted me about the unique work we do, working with individuals and organizations, across a broad geography.

And that brings up yet another reason this year has been so enjoyable: the amount of information and support available from APA. Steve and Gloria notified me about the "Model Act for State Licensure of Psychologists" that serves as a guide for drafting state licensing laws, "synthesizing APA policies bearing on the education, training, and practice of professional psychology". Section "E" addresses "Interstate Practice of Psychology".

It appears that interdivisional programming will be a focus for future conventions, and our overlap with quite a few APA divisions (including 13 and 14 as well as 12-Clinical and 17-Counseling) presents bountiful opportunities for collaboration.

Please contact me if you have information to share.

Here are examples of the information I seek:

Hope your spring has sprung, and see you in DC for the APA Convention August 4-7, 2011!