State Board to Take Control Over Psychologists’ Assistants

The state psychology board is proposing new rules and regulations to govern the use of  assistants to Psychologists. The notice for new rules was published in the November issue of  the Louisiana Register. The proposed rules include the conditions for the use of assistants , the responsibilities of supervising psychologists, and the disciplinary activities that the board may engage in for those registered as assistants.

The new oversight conditions stem from the 2021 House Bill 477, legislation put forth by the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, now Act 238.

HB 477, authored by Representative Joe Stagni, was a compromise measure following the downsizing of a 23-page bill introduced by the psychology board in 2020 and then again in 2021. Under pressure from opponents, the board agreed to substitute a fee bill, telling sources  that without the increased fees the board would not be able to operate in the future. This message resonated with the majority of those attending a special meeting of the Louisiana  Psychological Association called for by petition of those opposing the measure.

The language reads:

§2354. Fees

(4) The board shall charge an application fee for the initial registration of each assistant to a psychologist that shall not exceed fifty dollars. The board shall adopt rules in  accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act to implement the provisions of this Paragraph.

Sources from both the state board and the Louisiana Psychological Association that supported  the measure acknowledged that the new regulation was an attempt to raise revenue for the board, which has been struggling financially for a number of years.

The public may submit comments and criticism to the boards office by noon on December 12.  According to the notice, “LSBEP will conduct a Public Hearing at Noon on December 16, 2022, at  the board office located at 4334 S. Sherwood Forest Blvd., Suite C-150, Baton Rouge, LA 70816.  All interested persons are invited to attend and present data, views, comments, or arguments,  orally or in writing.”

The Louisiana Register’s Notice of Intent for new rules and regulations includes the following: 

§1101. Conditions for Utilization of Assistants
A. Upon employment of an ATAP, [Assistant to a Psychologist] but prior to assisting in psychological duties, the Supervising Psychologist shall submit a complete application for initial  registration, required registration fee, and documentation on such form and in such manner as  may be prescribed by the board to demonstrate that the registrant meets all of the following criteria:
1. is 18 years of age or older;
2. possesses a minimum of a high school diploma or its equivalent;
3. is of good moral character as determined by a criminal background check conducted under  the authority of R.S. 37:2356.1 and the provisions of this Part;
4. is not in violation of any of the provisions of the La. Revised Statutes Title 37, Chapter 28.  Psychologists; or the Louisiana Administrative Code, Title 46, Part LXIII; or any provision governing the practice of psychology under the jurisdiction of the board;
5. is qualified, or will receive supervised training commensurate with the services to be performed and is under the direct and continuous supervision of the Supervising Psychologist  as defined in this Chapter.
B. Prior to the approval of any registration, the registrant shall initiate a criminal background check from the Louisiana State Police, Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information in accordance with this Part, and the criminal history records information report must be received  and cleared by the board.
C. Upon review of the application, the board shall notify the licensed psychologist of record that the application and evidence submitted for registration is satisfactory and the registration has  been approved; or that the application or evidence is unsatisfactory and rejected; or other pending status. If the application is rejected, a notice from the board shall include the reasons for the rejection.

§1103. Responsibilities of Supervisors
A. The Supervising Psychologist:
1. is responsible for the registration and renewal of an assistant to a psychologist in conformity  with this Chapter on such form and in such manner as prescribed by the board;
2. directs the provision of psychological services to clients;
3. is administratively, clinically, ethically, functionally, and legally responsible for all activities of the Assistant to a Psychologist;
4. is accountable for the planning, course and outcome of the work. The conduct of supervision  shall ensure the welfare of the client, and the ethical and legal protection of the assistant;
5. is responsible for general communication regarding the needs of the clients and services rendered;
6. is responsible for continuing professional supervision of the ATAP;
7. provides general professional supervision of the ATAP that shall include one cumulative hour  per week as a minimum for direct supervisory contact:
B. Neglect in maintaining the above standards of practice may result in disciplinary action  against the supervisor’s license to practice, including suspension or revocation.

§1109. Exceptions to the Registration of an Assistant to a Psychologist
A. The provisions of this Section shall not apply to the following:
1. a medical psychologist utilizing assistants under the provisions of RS 37:1360.61 under the  jurisdiction of the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners.
2. an individual licensed under this part as a licensed specialist in school psychology who is  providing services defined under RS 37:2356.3.

§1107. Denial, Revocation, or Lapse of a Registration for an Assistant to a Psychologist
A. and take such actions permitted under RS  37:2351-2378, et al in matters involving the ATAP and/or their supervisor. The board has the authority to conduct investigations
B. The board may deny or revoke the registration of an assistant to a psychologist (ATAP) that is  in the best interest of public health, safety, and welfare for any unethical, unlawful, or other  unprofessional conduct under the jurisdiction of the board.
C. Immediate action may be taken to administratively suspend an ATAP’s registration in the  event information is received that the action(s) of an ATAP is causing harm to clients, is  otherwise likely to cause harm to future clients or patients, or the action(s) is unethical or  unlawful. Such action may be taken in instances including but not limited to falsifying  information in an application; and/or receipt of information involving an arrest, warrant for an  arrest, or conviction of the ATAP. 








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