Questions & Answers About Licensure and Limited Permits

These Questions and Answers are offered as a matter of general guidelines and do not carry the force of law. Specific questions should be directed to the actual statutory or regulatory language.

See below for Questions about Limited Permits

Has Article 153, which established the profession of psychology in 1956, changed this year?

Yes. In December 2002, Chapter 676 of the Laws of 2002 was enacted. Chapter 676 amends Article 153 to establish a definition of practice in psychology and creates a new Article 163 to establish four new mental health professions: Creative Arts Therapy, Marriage and Family Therapy, Mental Health Counseling, and Psychoanalysis.


What is the difference between Article 153 as a certification law and Article 153 as a practice law?

Article 153 as a certification law protected the title of the profession (psychology) and the terms used to describe services and activities (psychology, psychologist, and psychological, or any derivative of the entire word "psychology," either alone or in combination with other words and phrases.) Under the certification law, anyone could practice psychology, but could not use the protected title and terms when describing their services and activities, unless exempted under this law.

As a practice act, Article 153 not only restricts the title "psychologist" and the terms "psychologist, psychology, or psychological" when describing any activities or services, but also restricts the practice of psychology to persons licensed as psychologists, or authorized to do so by the provisions of the law.


What is the definition of practice in psychology in the newly amended Article 153 that becomes effective on September 1, 2003?

Definition of the practice of psychology. 1. The practice of psychology is the observation, description, evaluation, interpretation, and modification of behavior for the purpose of preventing or eliminating symptomatic, maladaptive or undesired behavior; enhancing interpersonal relationships, personal, group or organizational effectiveness and work and/or life adjustment; and improving behavioral health and/or mental health. The practice includes, but is not limited to psychological (including neuropsychological) testing and counseling; psychoanalysis; psychotherapy; the diagnosis and treatment of mental, nervous, emotional, cognitive or behavioral disorders, disabilities, ailments or illnesses, alcoholism, substance abuse, disorders of habit or conduct, the psychological aspects of physical illness, accident, injury or disability, psychological aspects of learning (including learning disorders); and the use of accepted classification systems.

The term "diagnosis and treatment" means the appropriate psychological diagnosis and the ordering or providing of treatment according to need. Treatment includes, but is not limited to counseling, psychotherapy, marital or family therapy, psychoanalysis, and other psychological interventions, including verbal, behavioral, or other appropriate means as defined in regulations promulgated by the commissioner.


Who may legally practice psychology?

The only persons who may legally practice psychology are licensed psychologists, those who possess a limited permit in psychology, and those persons who fall within the exemptions and provisions identified in Chapter 676, including Article 153.


Why would Chapter 676, including Article 153, authorize persons not licensed in psychology to engage in the practice, or use protected titles and terms?

The laws that establish all professions are enacted to protect the public's safety and welfare, not to give exclusive rights to titles, terms, and practice activities to specific groups of professionals. The professional licensing laws recognize the unique and valuable contributions of the professions to the health and well-being of the citizens of the State, but also recognize that other groups or professions may also provide the same or similar services, may provide such services in specific organized settings that have administrative and supervisory oversight, may be students in professional programs, or may be gaining experience for licensure purposes.


What are the exemptions in Chapter 676, including Article 153, that address the practice of psychology?

Chapter 676 has many exemptions to ensure that professionals currently licensed and authorized under Title VIII of the Education Law, such as psychologists, physicians, registered professional nurses and certified social workers continue to be authorized to provide mental health services without change in their practices, and that those who will be licensed in the four new professions with a legally defined scope of practice may practice to the full extent permitted by their own scopes of practice. The intention of the Law was not to change most of the exemptions that exist in the current licensing laws, but to ensure that individuals credentialed under any other law, such as attorneys, rape crisis counselors, certified alcoholism counselors and certified substance abuse counselors could continue to provide services within their respective established authorities.


What are some other facts about exemptions?

  • There are some exemptions with a time limit.
  • Some exemptions permit professional practices, but not the use of professional titles and/or terms
  • Some exemptions permit professional practices, but require the use of specific terms or permit the use of the title "psychologist" based on the position or training status of the practitioner.

What are the exemptions where the use of the title and the practice of psychology are permitted?

  1. The activities, services, and use of the title of psychologist, or any derivation thereof, on the part of a person employed by a federal, state, county or municipal agency, or other political subdivision, or a chartered elementary or secondary school or degree-granting educational institution insofar as such activities and services are a part of the duties of the salaried position.
  2. The activities and services required of a student, intern, or resident in psychology, pursuing a course of study leading to a doctoral degree in psychology in an institution approved by the Department, provided that such activities and services constitute a part of his or her supervised course of study in psychology. Such persons shall be designated by the title as "psychological intern," "psychological trainee," or other such title, which clearly indicates his or her training status.
  3. The representation as a psychologist and the rendering of services in New York State by a person who resides outside of this State provided the person has filed with the Department evidence that he or she has been licensed or certified in another State or has been admitted to the examination in this State. Such temporary period shall not exceed ten consecutive business days in one consecutive 90-day period or in the aggregate exceed more than fifteen business days in one 90-day period.

Who may engage in the activities and services contained in the scope of practice of psychology within the provisions of their licensing laws, but may not use the authorized titles?

  1. Any person who is licensed or otherwise authorized to practice medicine within the State or those authorized to practice as a physician assistant;
  2. The practice, conduct, activities or services by any persons licensed or otherwise authorized to practice nursing as a registered professional nurse, a certified social worker, a mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, creative arts therapy, or psychoanalysis within the State;
  3. The provision of mental health services by any individual who is credentialed under any law, including attorneys, rape crisis counselors, certified alcoholism counselors, and certified substance abuse counselors;
  4. The conduct, activities, or services of any member of the clergy or Christian Science practitioner, in the provision of pastoral counseling services within the context of his or ministerial charge or obligation; and
  5. The practice, conduct, activities, or services of an occupational therapist from performing work consistent with their licensing law. This does not include the practice of psychology or psychotherapy.

What other persons have a limited time period to engage in psychological practices as long as the use of the titles is not permitted?

Until June 1, 2010, any person in the employ of a program or service operated, regulated, funded, or approved by the Department of Mental Hygiene or a local government unit as that term is defined in Article 41 of the Mental Hygiene Law may engage in activities or services that fall within the practices defined in Chapter 676, provided, however, that they do not use any title authorized in Article 153 or 163 of the Education Law.

An exception to this may be those persons who are salaried employees of facilities or programs operated by governmental bodies, who may use the title "psychologist," as long as it is identified as part of their salaried position.


What other groups are authorized to provide specific services, as long as they do not engage in the practice of mental health therapy?

Individuals, churches, schools, teachers, organizations, or not-for-profit businesses may provide instruction, advice, support, encouragement or information to individuals, families and relational groups.


Are there exemptions in Article 163 that affect psychologists?

Yes. These exemptions state that "nothing contained in Article 163 shall be construed to apply to the practice, conduct, activities, services or use of any title by any person licensed or otherwise authorized to practice psychology within this State pursuant to Article 153. Therefore, psychologists who may engage in the conduct, activities, or services that fall within the professions of mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, creative arts therapy, and psychoanalysis may use these titles, as long as psychologists do not claim to be licensed in these professions. For example, a licensed psychologist may claim to be a "psychoanalyst," but may not claim to be a "licensed psychoanalyst."


After September 1, 2003, may the title "assistant psychologist" be used?

No. Persons currently may use "assistant psychologist" only if they have a doctoral degree in psychology and are gaining experience for licensure purposes. That term will retire on September 1, 2003 when a new requirement for a limited permit begins. The person with the limited permit must identify his or her status, but may use the terms and title of "psychologist, psychology, and psychological" in describing his or her activities and services.


May psychologists use unlicensed individuals to perform any practices defined as the "practice of psychology" in Article 153?

No. The use of unlicensed persons, persons without a limited permit, or persons who do not meet the exemption requirements, by licensed psychologists to perform any services or activities that fall within the statutory definition of psychology could result in professional misconduct charges or in the criminal charge of aiding and abetting illegal practice.


May unlicensed persons work as research assistants where the work includes performing any of the professional services defined in Article 153?

Unlicensed persons, who are salaried employees of colleges and universities, or other exempt settings, may engage in those activities that are authorized by the setting and are part of their salaried position, such as performing psychological tests.


May psychologists employ students to provide services within the practice of the psychologist?

There is no restriction on engaging or employing students to provide services within a psychologist's practice, but such activities and services must be a part of a supervised course of study in psychology. This work would have to be a required or authorized part of the requirements of the doctoral program and approved as such by the college or university, who could set standards for supervision or limits of service Students would have to use appropriate terms, such as psychologist-in-training, or psychology intern. The term "psychology assistant" has never been an authorized title, and has not been included in Article 153 for use after September 1, 2003.


Questions about Limited Permits

As of September 1, 2003, the only persons who may engage in the practice of psychology are licensed psychologists, those who hold a limited permit in psychology, and persons who fall within specific exempt groups. The following information is given as general guidance; it should not be used as a substitute for being familiar with and following the applicable law, Rules, and regulations.


What is a limited permit and whom does it affect?

A limited permit may be issued by the State Education Department to an applicant for licensure when that person has met specific requirements for licensure, but must still meet additional conditions. The limited permit may authorize the permit holder to engage in a profession, subject to such conditions or limitations that may be imposed by the Department and to use the title and terms that are authorized in the law for the profession. So, a person with a limited permit may claim to be a psychologist and to practice psychology, but, at the same time, this must be done within the limits established by the law and the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education and the Board of Regents.

There are two kinds of limited permits in psychology: One has existed for many years and is issued to psychologists who are licensed in other states and countries and meet all but the examination requirement for licensure. That permit is issued for one year, or until the results of the first examination for which the applicant is eligible are released. The new permit will become effective on September 1, 2003. It may be issued for an aggregate of three years to an applicant for licensure who has completed all doctoral degree requirements, including the dissertation. It is issued so that the permittee may gain the supervised experience needed to meet the experience requirement for licensure.


Do students who are working as externs, interns, or in some other situation that is a part of their required doctoral studies have to have a limited permit?

A student, intern, or resident in psychology, pursuing a course of study leading to a doctoral degree in psychology in an institution approved by the Department does not require a limited permit to engage in required activities and services, as long as such activities and services constitute a part of his or her supervised course of study in psychology. Such students may use titles, such as, "psychological extern," "psychological intern," "psychological trainee," or another title that clearly indicates his or her training status.


When may a person obtain a limited permit?

A person may submit an application for licensure and the fee at any time to establish a licensure file, and could apply for a limited permit as soon as the applicant's university can declare that the person has met all doctoral degree requirements, including the dissertation. The date when the university will declare that all doctoral degree requirements, including the dissertation, has been met often precedes the date when the degree is conferred at a graduation ceremony - sometimes by several months. When all other required documents are received and approved, the limited permit will be issued.

Information on all of the requirements will be available on the Limited Permit application form and on this site by the first week of August 2003.


Will the education of limited permit applicants be reviewed before the limited permit is issued?

Yes. Those students who attend a New York State doctoral program in psychology registered as licensure-qualifying will have their education approved as soon as their universities submit Form 2 attesting to the completion of all doctoral degree requirements, including the dissertation, and the transcript. Applicants from out-of-state or from programs in New York State that are not registered as licensure-qualifying, will continue to have their education reviewed on an individual basis by the Department, so these applicants should be prepared to submit all the information necessary for a complete review of their education as soon as they complete all doctoral degree requirements, including the dissertation.


Does the supervisor of the experience have to sign the limited permit application?

Yes. The limited permit application will require certain information about the work site and will also require the signature of the licensed and registered psychologist who will supervise the candidate who will be gaining experience for licensure purposes.


When the candidate receives the limited permit, does that mean that the person may also take the licensing examination?

No. Before an applicant may be eligible to take the licensing examination, the person must have completed the doctoral degree and dissertation requirements acceptable to the Department, had the degree conferred, and also have completed one year of the two years of supervised experience that meets the experience requirements for licensure. To be eligible for the limited permit, however, the applicant need only have completed the doctoral degree and dissertation requirements; this is less than the requirements for exam eligibility.


May the applicant renew the limited permit?

There is a provision for the limited permit to be renewed for good cause for one year, as determined by the Department. While this is a good safety net, the provision would rarely be needed.


If an applicant gets a limited permit, may the person open a private practice?

No. The limited permit is issued solely for the person to gain the experience for licensure purposes that is required in Part 72.2 of the Regulations of the Commissioner.


Is a limited permit required to work in an exempt setting?

No. The exemption provisions in licensure are put in the law to permit certain settings to provide psychological services without the requirement for a license or limited permit. Some of the experience in such settings may be accepted as meeting the supervised experience requirement for licensure even if the applicant does not need a limited permit to work in the setting as long as all of the requirements for experience in Part 72.2 of the Regulations of the Commissioner are fulfilled.


How long is a limited permit valid?

The limited permit is issued under ยง7604(1-a) for one year but may be renewed at no cost for no more than three years. When an application to renew the permit is submitted, Form 4 must also be submitted directly by the supervisor identifying the experience that has been completed. Please note that once all hours have been submitted and approved the limited permit will no longer be valid.


Where can I obtain further information?

Please see the Contacts page.

Last Updated: August 27, 2012