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Supervision of Psychological Assistants

Important Information

It is the responsibility of both supervisor and psychological assistant to read and understand the following important information. The laws and regulations which govern psychological assistant employment and supervision are very complex. Hours of supervised professional experience accrued by psychological assistants to apply toward meeting licensure requirements often are denied because of failure of both the supervisor and the registered psychological assistant to understand and comply with these laws and regulations. Supervisors are responsible for their psychological assistants' compliance with the provisions of the Psychology Licensing Law (Chapter 6.6 of the Business and Professions Code) and the Board of Psychology's regulations.

Following is a summary of important provisions governing the supervisor/psychological assistant relationship. However, both supervisors and psychological assistants should read, and are responsible for complying with, all of the provisions governing this relationship which are contained in the Board's laws and regulations. A copy of the laws and regulations can be obtained by sending a written request to the Board. Each booklet costs $10. Please include a check or money order made payable to the Board of Psychology. You can also access the laws and regulations free of charge on the board's web site at http://www.psychboard.ca.gov/lawsregs.

Test yourself on psychological assistant/supervision issues!

Notification to Patients

It is the supervisor's responsibility to inform each patient, prior to the rendering of psychological services by a psychological assistant, that the assistant is unlicensed and is allowed to provide limited psychological services only while under the direction and supervision of a licensed supervisor (Regulation section 1391.6). Supervisors also must obtain releases from the patients of their psychological assistants to enable them to access confidential patient information related to their supervision duties (Business and Professions Code section 2960(h)).

Change of Address

The supervisor must notify the Board of any change to the address of record so that renewal notices can be received in a timely manner. Such notification must specify both the supervisor's license number and the registration number of each psychological assistant if the assistants' addresses are to be changed as well. Note that a change of address requested by the supervisor will not automatically change the psychological assistant's address on the registration without a specific request to also change the psychological assistant's address.

Initial Registration and Renewal

  • A psychological assistant cannot begin to provide psychological services until officially notified by the Board that the registration is approved.
  • In order for hours of supervised professional experience to count toward licensure requirements, it is imperative that psychological assistant registrations be renewed on or before the January 31st expiration date each year. It is equally imperative that supervisors' licenses be renewed on or before their expiration dates so that they remain qualified supervisors during the entire period that hours are accrued.
  • The Board has no choice but to deny hours of supervised professional experience if there are lapses in registration or supervisors' license renewals. While it is the supervisor's responsibility to assure timely renewals, the psychological assistant, as the affected party, should diligently track both the registration renewal and the supervisor's license renewal. Any psychological assistant who practices with an expired registration is practicing illegally, and the supervisor is aiding and abetting this illegal unlicensed practice.
  • There is a 60-day period following the January 31st expiration date during which psychological assistant registrations can be renewed. Psychological assistants cannot practice during this period until the registration has been renewed. After April 1st each year, if the registration is not renewed, it becomes canceled and no longer exists. At this point, a new application must be submitted for approval.
  • Note that neither psychological assistants nor their supervisors are allowed to practice (or accrue hours) while the related registrations or licenses are delinquent.
  • Renewal notices are sent as a courtesy by the Board. If a renewal notice is not received, the supervisor and psychological assistant remain responsible for timely renewals.

General Information

Requirements:
  • Every supervisor of a psychological assistant shall be responsible for ensuring that the extent, kind, and quality of the psychological services performed by the assistant are consistent with his/her training and experience and with the education, training, and experience of the supervisor (Regulation sections 1391.6).
  • Every psychological assistant must maintain a weekly log of all hours of supervised professional experience gained toward licensure (Regulation section 1387.5).
  • The supervisor and trainee must complete a supervision agreement prior to commencement of supervision (Regulation section 1387(b)(10)).http://www.psychboard.ca.gov/applicants/sup_agreement.pdf
  • Supervisors must notify the Board in writing that a psychological assistant registration has been terminated within 30 days following termination (Regulation section 1391.11)).
  • Supervisors must be employed in the same work setting in which the psychological assistants are employed and available to the assistant 100% of the time the assistant is rendering professional services (Regulation section 1391.5(a)).
  • At a minimum, supervisors must provide at least one hour of face-to-face supervision per week for their psychological assistants (Regulation section 1391.5(b)).
  • Supervisors of psychological assistants must report to the Board on an annual basis: 1) the nature of the limited psychological functions performed by the psychological assistant; 2) evidence of employment; 3) the location, type, extent, and amount of supervision; and 4) a certification that the limited psychological functions are within the scope of the psychological assistant's education and training (Regulation section 1391.10)). This information is reported on the registration renewal form.
Prohibitions:
  • Psychological assistants must at all times be treated as employees. As such, they are prohibited from renting office space from their supervisors and must be provided with all provisions necessary to function as a psychological assistant (Regulation section 1391.8(a) & (c)).
  • Psychological assistants can have no proprietary interest in their supervisors' practices, and they are not allowed to bill patients directly (Regulation section 1391.8(b)).
  • Supervisors are prohibited from supervising trainees who are, or have been, psychotherapy clients of the supervisors (Regulation section 1387.1(k)).
  • Supervisors are prohibited from supervising trainees with whom the supervisor has a familial, intimate, business, or other relationship (Regulation section 1387.1(j)).
  • Supervisors are prohibited from charging psychological assistants a fee for supervision (Regulation sections 1391.8(a)).
  • Qualified psychologists may supervise no more than three psychological assistants at any given time, and qualified board-certified psychiatrists may supervise no more than one psychological assistant at any given time (Business and Professions Code section 2913(d)).
  • Supervisors who are listed as both employer and supervisor on the psychological assistant registration are prohibited from delegating supervision to any other licensed professional. No credit will be granted for hours of supervised professional experience earned by a psychological assistant if that supervision was provided by anyone other than the approved supervisor (Regulation section 1391.5(c).