Accreditation, Probation and the importance of APA Accreditation
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 09, 2011 05:32AM

If you are researching where a psychotherapist has been trained, or are considering whether to select a training program for yourself, do you research carefully before you take out student loans and take on debt.

First, many states will not consider an applicant eligible for licensure process unless that person has obtained his or her degree from a school that is not only 'accredited' but is APA (American Psychological Association) accredited.

It is also important to learn, early in ones research, whether a school is APA accredited and what condition that APA accreditation is--for 7 years, for 5 years, three years or...on probation?

This website advises that it is best not to apply to a program whose APA accreditation is listed as being 'on probation'

There is a very interesting discussion here.


One contributor wrote:

There is some confusion in this thread about how accreditation works. I don't claim to be an expert, but I am a faculty member of an institution that recently went through the process.

First of all, the review involves two parts. Part one requires programs to meet minimum standards set by the APA. Most of these involve purely objective criteria like retention. The second part is a review of the program description. This is the part that gets most schools in trouble. The APA has very few requirements for programs. Mostly accreditation is based upon doing what you say your program materials say that you do. So, if you claim to prepare students to meaningfully contribute to scholarly journals and nobody has published in four years it is a red flag. That doesn't mean that all schools have to publish; it just means that a school has to publish if it says that this is what is trying to train people to do. Thus, most programs are placed on probation for consistently failing to achieve one of the objectives they have selected for themselves. A minority are placed on probation for failing to meet a minimum requirement of APA. This means that there are not very many "standard" reasons for losing accreditation, and APA does not really have a mechanism in place that would allow it to become more strict.

Second, accreditation awards are three, five, or seven years. Five and seven are good, three is not so good. A number of very good, stable programs have five year accreditation. A decent number of relatively schools get dinged with three every now and again. I would only be concerned with accreditation if a school consistently received 3 years.

Probation and revocation of accreditation are really bad for both the program and the students. Students are usually left with a choice between completing a degree without accreditation or starting over at another school. There is no grandfather clause that protects the accreditation for students who have already started. That said, a degree from a program that lacks accreditation is not necessarily a death sentence. The University of Chicago and Harvard both have unaccredited PhDs, and their graduates can still get licensed.


"Who is the APA?
Founded over 100 years ago, the APA is a scientific and professional organization with over 150,000 members, making it the largest association of psychologists worldwide. Its stated mission is to “advance psychology as a science, as a profession, and as a means of promoting health, education, and human welfare.”

What does APA certification mean?
The APA Commission on Accreditation (CoA) accredits doctoral programs in clinical, counseling, and school psychology, as well as predoctoral internship and postdoctoral residency training programs in accordance with published guidelines and procedures.

Susan Zlotlow, PhD, director of APA’s accreditation office, explains that accreditation “serves as a quality-control guide for students.” She says, “For example, students can expect APA-accredited programs will offer organized, sequential training curricula and qualified faculty in adequate numbers.”

Students can also be confident that such programs will offer a certain level of supervision, and appropriate supplemental resources, such as libraries, computers, and office space.

What are the advantages of APA certification?
Accreditation gives students a measure of assurance that they can get a return on their educational investment. In many states, graduating from APA-accredited school is required for licensure. Graduating from an APA-accredited school will also open more opportunities for jobs and for membership in professional organizations.

For example, to become a member of the APA, one has to be a qualified professional in psychology with a doctoral degree in psychology from an APA-accredited school or a related field from a regionally accredited graduate or professional school.

How do I find an APA accredited school?
A list of all accredited programs can be found on the APA’s website. The site also includes information on how to choose a program, frequently asked questions about accreditation and specialty information.

In addition, every December in the American Psychologist journal, the APA publishes its most recent listing of programs and their accreditation status.

It is best not to apply to a school listed as being “on probation.” If it indicates a particular program is pending, it is wise to contact the department head and discuss where they are in the process." '


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