What is a Licensed Psychologist?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 24 September 2019
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Licensed psychologist may mean different things depending on geographic area. It could be generally said that these people are those who have completed certain levels of education. They have also completed any extra work, testing or practical studies required to obtain licensure in their field.

The term “licensed” may not be the only consideration. There are numerous areas where the title psychologist is a protected. This means a state/region/country only recognizes the right for a person to legally call him or herself a psychologist if they have met the standards the state imposes. The matter can get more complicated when people seek a licensed psychologist. In order to participate in certain types of activities in a region, a psychologist could not only need to fulfill requirement to call his/herself one, but also other requirements to get a license of varying types to practice.

For instance in the US, a psychologist, except in rare circumstances, can’t be one unless he or she has received a doctorate degree. Usually this degree is a Ph.D in psychology, a Psy.D or an Ed.D. This does not mean the person is a licensed psychologist. Typical requirements to become one, especially of the counseling variety mean completing about 1500 hours of practice in therapy before taking testing that certifies competency. It’s a lengthy path, though shorter than requirements imposed to license social workers or marriage and family therapists.


Psychologists who want to work as therapists may not be the only ones that need a licensed psychologist title. People who practice as clinical psychologists also may need to complete internships and take a test before they can do their work. Another area of work that might require some form of certification or licensure is forensic psychology.

Of course, whether or not a person needs to become a licensed psychologist of any type has most to do with where that person lives. For those looking at career paths and requirements, this is an important consideration. Understanding the requirements needed to work in a specific field can help people plan ahead so that they meet those requirements. It’s important to remember that requirements do change from time to time.

Another group of people need to understand the term, licensed psychologist, too. These are the people who might employ one, particularly for things like therapy. If a psychologist cannot prove licensure, and it is a regional requirement, those shopping for a therapist should look somewhere else. For the public, this term “licensed” assures a certain level of work and practice in a field; without it, the competency of the person is definitely questionable.


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