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To: New York State Licensed Psychologists, College and University Departments of Psychology, Psychological Associations and Societies, Psychotherapy Institutes, Psychology Students and Licensure Applicants, Other Interested Parties

From: Johanna Duncan-Poitier, Deputy Commissioner for the Professions

Subject: The Guidelines to Alert Psychologists to Good and Recommended Practices

Date: March 2001

The State Board for Psychology and the State Education Department have produced the attached practice alerts to provide useful information on good and recommended practices in the profession of psychology. This information about good practices explains and clarifies that found in law, rules, and regulations, and other guidelines. This information is not a substitute for an understanding of the laws, rules, and regulations governing the practice of psychology in New York State. These practice alerts can help psychologists better understand what might lead to professional practice complaints and to take steps to eliminate or minimize those situations. These practice alerts were developed with input from psychologists, faculty in academic institutions, consumers, professional associations, schools and other State Boards for psychology. These practice alerts focus on the issues of professional responsibility and conduct and do not address matters of civil liability, which are outside the jurisdiction of the Regents and the Department.

Practice alerts, like professional practice guidelines, can help practitioners comply with the Rules of the New York State Board of Regents to promote good practice. Practice guidelines, which you have received in the past, are intended to provide licensees with general guidance to promote good practice and prevent instances of professional misconduct. These practice alerts in psychology differ from practice guidelines since they were specifically developed based on a careful analysis of actual professional misconduct complaints lodged against psychologists. Although the majority of the complaints were found not to merit formal disciplinary action, the actions by the licensees involved can be instructive and may enable others to avoid these borderline activities, which can tend to lead to complaints. These alerts focus specifically on conduct that has resulted in complaints of professional misconduct. Practice guidelines and practice alerts can benefit licensees and consumers by broadening their understanding of the statutes and regulations that define professional practice, including professional misconduct and unprofessional conduct.

Practice guidelines and practice alerts do not have the force of law. Therefore, which the guidelines and practice alerts may be a resource in assessing conduct that underlies a violation, they may not be used as the basis for a charge of or defense against a charge of professional misconduct. A licensee can only be charged with professional misconduct if there is a violation of the Education Law or Regents Rules. Determinations of which complaints lead to professional misconduct charges are made on a case-by-case basis by the Professional Conduct Officer in accordance with Section 6510 of the Education Law.

For a full understanding of the application of practice alerts, please review the attached memorandum regarding the purpose and sue of practice guidelines since both practice alerts and guidelines apply to the law in the same way.

We hope that you find these practice alerts useful. If in doubt, you should consult the actual laws, Rules or regulations, or send a question to Kathleen M. Doyle, Executive Secretary for the State Board for Psychology, at (518) 474-3817 ext. 150, or by e-mail at, or by fax to (518) 486-4846.