Top 10 Must Know About Philippine Psychology Act of 2009
1. The Law is effective now!
And not just now but since June 2, 2010, RA 10029 is already a working and enforceable law that affects the whole psychology field in the Philippines. The Philippine Psychology Act of 2009 was a consolidation of two bills namely Senate Bill No. 3498 and House Bill No. 6512 and the Act was approved on March 16, 2010. So you might ask, what’s the big deal? Well, the provisions of the law is already effective such that everyone who performs psychological services should be licensed. No one can call themselves psychologist or psychometrician without being registered and having the license. But don’t worry, the Psychology Regulatory Board (PRB) gives a leeway period of 3 years for qualified professionals to register without taking the exams. For those who can’t qualify for the grandfather’s clause, they need to take the board exam.
2. What do you mean by Psychological Services?
Every professional has their own scope of practice. For the psychology field in the Philippines it is called under the umbrella term of “psychological services”. To make it simple, psychological services includes psychological interventions, assessment, evaluation, and psychological programs. There are a lot of functions that can be categorized under these services and you should consult the latest Implementing Rules and Regulation of the RA 10029 to see whether your job description falls under one of these psychological services.
Take note that teaching psychology subjects and doing research is not covered by the Law. But another law (i.e. RA 8981) specifically requires professors and lecturers of subjects covered by the board examination to be licensed professionals. So for example, professors of experimental psychology and social psychology do not need a license but those teaching theories of personality, abnormal psychology, industrial psychology, and psychological assessment may be required to get their license to qualify to teach the subjects.
The following listed in Section 3b of IRR are under psychological services. You need to have a license if your job description falls under one of these:
- Psychological counseling
- Psychological consultation
- Psychosocial support
- Life coaching
- Psychological debriefing
- Group processes
- Psychological assessment, testing, evaluation
- Development, standardization, and publication of psychological tests which measures adjustment and psychopathology
- Creation of assessment tools primarily for psycho-diagnostic purposes
- Use of individual tests, projective tests, clinical interviews, and other psychological assessment tools
- Assessing psychological functions such as
- cognitive abilities
- personality characteristics
- emotions and motivations
- Making diagnostic interpretations, reports, and recommendations as part of:
- case study
- diagnostic screening
- management decisions
- psychiatric evaluation
- legal action
- psychological counseling
- psychotherapy or change intervention
- Development, planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of:
- psychological treatment programs
- play therapy
- expressive arts therapy
- music therapy
- trauma healing
- addiction rehabilitation and treatment programs
- behavioral management and intervention in correctional facilities
- psychological training programs which involves inner processing
- mental health programs in disaster and emergency situations
3. Two Professionals, One Law
Yes that’s right. The Law covers two professionals who performs two related psychological services. Those who administer and interpret personality tests, interpret results, prepare reports and clinical interviews are called Psychometricians while those who are allowed to perform the whole range of psychological services are called Psychologists. In simplest terms, psychometricians can only do psychological assessment (except projective and higher level tests) and psychologist can do all psychological services including the functions of the psychometricians.
In addition to this, the psychometrician should be at all times supervised by a psychologist. Also, all assessment report done by the psychometrician should bear the signature of the supervising psychologist. The Law nor the IRR did not specify if a company/institution should hire a psychologist-psychometrician tandem or a company can have the supervising psychologist as an on-call service. But whatever the organizational setup it might be, one thing is clear. These professionals should be licensed before they can perform their psychological services.
4. Check first if you can register without taking the board exam
Save yourself from being a student again and investing time, money, and effort in preparing for the board exam. The Law is friendly to those who are qualified to be licensed without taking the exam. This is commonly termed as the “Grandfather’s clause”. Section 16 and 17 of the IRR specifies the grandfather’s clause criteria for the psychologists and psychometricians.
Generally, you should have the necessary work experience and academic requirements on or before June 2, 2010 before you can be grandfathered. For psychologists, either you have a doctoral degree with 3 years experience OR master’s degree with 5 years experience, OR a bachelor’s degree with 10 years experience. Note that your experience should be titled as “Psychologist” and this should be reflected in your certificate of employment. If your job title is not “psychologist” you are not qualified for grandfather’s clause despite doing psychological services. For psychometricians, you need to have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and minimum of 2 years full-time work experience as a psychometrician. Then again, your job title in the certificate of employment should be “psychometrician” to qualify for the grandfather’s clause for psychometricians.
Remember that you can only register without taking the exam until May 21, 2015. Please refer to the specific documentary requirements that you need to prepare before submitting your application to the PRB.
5. There will be a board exam for aspiring psychologists and psychometricians
In the most altruistic sense, the purpose of the Law is to professionalize the psychology field in the Philippines. It aims to define the scope of practice for the psychology professionals so that we know what makes them unique from the other helping professions. But practically, the Law serves as the basic guideline for regulating these two professionals by means of a state administered board examination. This is the most basic way of ensuring the quality of the professionals who will render psychological services to the public.
If you are not qualified to be grandfathered, you need to consider taking the board exams. There are separate exams for psychologists and psychometricians as well as separate qualifications that needs to be fulfilled. For psychologists, you need to have a masters degree in psychology and 200 hours of supervised practicum reflected in your certificate of practicum. For psychometricians, the only academic requirement is a bachelor’s degree in psychology. No need for practicum for psychometricians. However, both field should have the “psychology” as their primary title in their degree, regardless of the arts or science designation. For example, those who finished Masters in Education major in Psychology are NOT allowed since its primary title is Education.
As early as now you need to prepare for the necessary documentary requirements needed for application. The following were excerpted from the IRR:
- NSO birth certificate
- Original and certified true copy of Transcript of Records with your picture. Ask your registrar to give you a TOR for board exam purposes with your picture printed in the TOR. Also, the TOR should have the Special Order number printed. If your school is exempted from issuing SO number, you need to get from your registrar the Certificate of Authentication and Validation from CHED.
- Original and photocopy of NBI clearance
- Three (3) notarized certificates of good moral character preferably from your employer, school, church leader, baranggay captain.
- 2 colored passport size pictures with white background and name tag
- Cedula (be sure the year is the same from the time you file to PRC)
In addition for aspiring psychologists, you need to submit a certificate of practicum and a certificate of mental health fitness from a psychiatrist or licensed clinical psychologist. Both of these certificates should be notarized.
6. The 4 test subjects
These 4 test subjects are very important because the application process and the board exams relies on these. For psychometricians, the 4 test subjects are Theories of Personality, Abnormal Psychology, Industrial psychology, and Psychological Assessment. For psychologists, there will be no industrial psychology subject. Instead, it will be replaced by psychological counseling and psychotherapy plus advanced subjects of Theories of Personality, Abnormal Psychology, and Psychological Assessment.
Here’s the catch – these subjects should appear in your transcript of records aside from graduating the psychology degree before you can qualify for the board exam. The Commission on Higher Education released a memorandum in 2009 (CMO No. 38) that details the undergraduate curriculum in psychology. If your school already adopted this while you are studying, chances are you will not encounter concerns in your TOR. However, some schools have not fully implemented the CMO 38 and so these schools may have different subject coverage in their psychology programs. Nevertheless, in the last IRR Briefing done in DLSU-CSB, Dr. Villar stated that they may allow subjects that have different names but have the same content with the 4 test subjects. For example, Psychology of Mental Disorders and Psychopathology may be treated as equivalent to Abnormal Psychology in the same way as Clinical Assessment and testing is equivalent to Psychological Assessment.
Another development you should watch out is the possible change of test subjects next year. Dr. Villar stated in the DLSU-CSB IRR briefing that they may file a request in the PRC to remove industrial psychology and replace it with developmental psychology as one of the test subjects in the psychometrician board exam. This is due to the differences in the undergraduate curriculum of different schools/colleges/universities. Specifically, there are schools who only offer industrial psychology as an elective and some of these students may have not taken it even after graduation. For the psychologist board exam, there has no announcement yet if developmental psychology will be added as its 5th subject. We should wait for further announcements and board resolutions regarding this changes.
Lastly, the scope of examination for each of these test subjects will NOT be released by the PRB, at least as of now they planned not to release it. It means that we are left alone to decipher/guess what topics will appear in the board exam questions. However, a consultation with professors and lecturers of different schools was done in Assumption College last February 26, 2013. They discussed the possible topic coverage of the test subjects as well as the national competencies and expectations for the new psychometricians and psychologists. The result of these consultations will hopefully be publicized in the form of board resolution so that everyone will be informed accordingly.
7. The Professional Regulatory Board of Psychology
The Professional Regulatory Board of Psychology, a.k.a “PRB” is the governing body that will oversee and regulate the practice of psychology in the Philippines. They are under the administrative control and supervision of the Professional Regulation Commission which is a government institution. Currently the acting chairman of PRB is Miriam Cue and has 1 member which is Imelda Villar.
Notable to all of the PRC’s regulatory board is their quasi-judicial nature. The PRB therefore has the authority to issue subpoena testificandum and subpoena ducestecum. This ability allows the PRB to hear cases pertaining to the psychology act. They can also revoke licenses, visit institutions to check compliance with the law, coordinate with CHED, and assist in creating guidelines for continuing professional education.
Just like most of the laws, the RA 10029 and its IRR have a list of prohibited acts and penalties to those who break the law. As a rule of thumb, if any one performs one of the psychological services mentioned in the IRR BUT without a license, that person should be prepared to be imprisoned for 6 months to 3 years and/or pay a fine of Php 10,000-100,000. Also, people are not allowed to call themselves psychologist/psychometricians if they are not yet licensed. For corporations and institutions involved in psychological services, they need to secure a permit from PRB before they can legally operate. Lastly, do not fool the PRB because if they discover the truth, you will be punished. And no borrowing of License Card!
9. Code of Ethics
The Law mandates that psychologists and psychometricians need to adopt their own code of ethics. Currently, PAP already has its Code of Ethics for Psychologists which is available in their website. Since PAP will be the accredited professional organization (APO), we expect that the code of ethics from PAP will be used and adopted by the PRB.
Every profession under the regulation of PRC has their own Accredited Professional Organization (APO). If PRB serves as the legal and government organization overseeing the professional field, the APO acts to represent the professionals and its associates. They may serve in CPE accreditation, certifications, academic and research functions, among others. The Psychological Association of the Philippines will be the APO for psychology.