Following the APA decision in February 2007 to stop accrediting in Canada, the CPA has been diligent and active in advocating for the quality of teaching and training provided by CPA-accredited doctoral and internship programmes. 

As many of you know, as of January 1st 2008 the APA no longer accepts new applications for accreditation from Canadian programmes and the terms of programmes that have been concurrently accredited by the CPA and the APA will expire at the latest by September of 2015. The purpose of this memo is to provide an update on CPA’s ongoing efforts to promote the value and currency of CPA accreditation outside of Canada in an effort to address the mobility concerns historically expressed by some Canadian programmes on behalf of their students.

At the October 2006 annual meeting of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB), Dr. Karen Cohen presented the CPA Accreditation Standards and Procedures for Doctoral Programmes and Internships in Professional Psychology. Specifically, Dr. Cohen took this opportunity to talk to U.S. regulators about the CPA Standards; describing their prescriptive and outcome or competency-based elements and the ways in which they provided some assurance of the value and rigour of Canadian programmes accredited by the CPA. This presentation helped us to raise the profile of Canadian training and afforded the regulators an opportunity to ask any questions they had about licensing graduates from CPA-accredited programmes.

At the April 2007 midyear meeting of the ASPPB, Dr. Cohen and Dr. Angelo Caputo conducted a presentation entitled, “Canadian Accreditation Standards in Professional Psychology: What do North American Regulators need to know?”  The purpose of their presentation was to again promote the rigour and comprehensiveness of the CPA Standards for education and training in professional psychology, interface this with increasing recognition of competency models of training among regulators, and to address and allay mobility issues and concerns.  We concluded our presentation by inviting all U.S. regulators to confirm their individual as well as collective commitments to statements of equivalency regarding APA and CPA accreditation and to consider posting a statement of this commitment on their respective websites to provide guidance and reassurance to the faculty and students of doctoral and internship programmes across North America. We were encouraged after our presentation to hear several U.S. regulators state that they have explicitly written CPA accreditation into their regulations, thereby according graduates of CPA-accredited programmes the same consideration for licensure credential review as graduates of APA-accredited programmes.

Subsequent to the April 2007 meeting of the ASPPB, Dr. Cohen authored an article for the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) Newsletter entitled, “2007 APPIC Annual Membership Meeting held at APA.”  This article was printed in the November 2007 issue (Vol. XXXII, Number 2) of the APPIC Newsletter.

As many of you know, ASPPB, APPIC, and the National Register in the U.S. all have statements of essential equivalency, in that anytime accreditation is referenced it equally references CPA and APA accreditation. CPA maintains ongoing contact with APPIC and continues to keep its members informed about changes and developments in CPA accreditation. CPA hopes to have an opportunity to attend an annual general meeting of APPIC at which time we can present and continue to inform its members about CPA Accreditation Standards and Procedures. On an ongoing basis, we also endeavour to work with APPIC on messaging about CPA accreditation to its members and we are appreciative of their support.

While it has always been our preference that members of ASPPB treat CPA and APA accreditation equivalently, and hence accord each an expedited credential review, it is CPA’s view and position that it is minimally necessary that graduates from CPA-accredited programmes be eligible for licensure and not be precluded from licensure simply on the basis of having completed a CPA-accredited programme. We have strongly advocated for this stance and have recently asked the ASPPB to adopt a more explicit policy statement including a recommendation to its members that, to the extent that a regulator confers advantage to applicants who graduate from an APA-accredited programme, this advantage be equivalently accorded to graduates from CPA-accredited programmes. We are very pleased to state that the ASPPB has agreed to adopt and publish the following statement here :

It is the position of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) that in the event that a regulatory body holds the accreditation status of an applicant’s training as a requirement for licensure or, in the event that the body permits a faster track credential review for applicants with accredited training, the definition of accredited training will include training accredited by the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA).  In the event that legislation in a particular jurisdiction does not permit the equivalent treatment of CPA and U.S.-based accreditation, then it is the position of the ASPPB that no jurisdiction should preclude an applicant from applying for licensure solely because the program from which he or she graduated was accredited by the CPA and not a U.S.-based accreditor.

CPA is deeply appreciative that the ASPPB has agreed to formally adopt an explicit policy on accreditation equivalency. CPA is now actively disseminating this significant development to each individual state regulatory body as a way to further advocate for CPA accreditation (to view a copy of this letter, please click here). Our hope is that each U.S. regulator will follow ASPPB’s lead and likewise adopt a formal statement of equivalency.

In terms of concerns about mobility, it is our understanding that CPA status alone is not a barrier to licensure in any U.S. jurisdiction except the state of Florida. It is our understanding that Florida state law requires that the applicant who attends graduate school in the U.S. or Canada attend a programme that is accredited by a body that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. APA accreditation is recognized and accountable to the U.S. Department of Education. Thus, even if CPA was interested in being recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, it could not because our scope of accreditation activities is not in the U.S.

The only other barrier to graduates from CPA-accredited programmes of which we are aware is the Veteran’s Administration (VA) Hospitals, which require graduation from an APA-accredited programme for internship or hire. The APA Office of Programme Consultation and Accreditation has been working with the VA hospitals on our behalf – apparently an exception to this policy has been made for other health professions and we are hopeful that a similar exception may be made for psychology. Dr. Cohen plans to meet with the VA officials in Washington in March to discuss their acceptance of students from CPA-accredited programmes.  It is important to note, however, that the greatest barrier to hire or internship in VA Hospitals or state corrections is citizenship. One must be an American citizen to work or intern in either institution. Thus, our lobbying to change VA policy about the accreditation status required of its employees and interns will only benefit American students studying in Canada and will be of no benefit to the vast majority of students studying in Canadian universities.  Nonetheless, in a sincere effort to address the mobility concerns of our accredited training programmes that recruit American students each year, CPA will advocate for equivalency with the VA Hospitals.

As mentioned in many previous public statements, the CPA is very committed to developing mechanisms and models for international accreditation. The CPA initiated and has been participating in an International Accreditation Interest Group (IAIG), attended by professional psychology groups from Canada, the U.S., Mexico, and Australia. It is our understanding that the APA is currently undertaking a review of all its international activities. It is our hope that APA will be able to participate with us in developing international mechanisms of accreditation for professional psychology programmes once this review is complete.