State laws and ethical standards govern the level and nature of qualifications and training that a person must meet to identify oneself as a mental health professional. These laws and standards vary from one state to another and from one profession to another. Below are some examples for the State of California. You will also find listed at the bottom of this page some national professional organizations you may contact to get information about how to check the qualifications of mental health professionals in other states. For general information about checking the qualifications of mental health professionals, look at the section below which applies to the particular type of professional person of interest to you.
When using the web links below, you may sometimes reach a screen that asks for a password for that organization. Just click on the cancel button and after a brief pause you will usually be connected without a password.
Feel free to ask any psychologist where he or she took their doctorate degree in psychology, and to ask for their psychology license number. Ask how long the psychologist has been in practice in your community and whether he or she has any university or hospital affiliations.
In California a psychologist must hold a psychology state license. You can contact the California Board of Psychology to find out if a psychologist is properly licensed.
California Board of Psychology
1426 Howe St., Suite 54
Sacramento, CA 95825, (916) 263-2699 www.dca.ca.gov/psych/timeline.htm
The National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology lists psychologists state by state in communities across the nation. It is carried in libraries and can be contacted at (202) 783-7663 or at the website: www.nationalregister.org Information about actions taken by the Committee on Professional Practice and Ethics appears at: www.nationalregister.org/coppe.html
Other good resources for information about psychologists in California are:
The California Psychological Association:
1022 G Street Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 325-9786 www.cpapsych.org
The Orange County (California) Psychological Association:
The American Psychological Association Website provides much general information about the profession of psychology at www.psycport.com
The Ethics Code of the American Psychological Association can be viewed at: www2.apa.org/ethics/code2002.doc
In other states in the U.S. and for Provinces in Canada, see:
Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB)
Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
PO Box 4389
Montgomery, AL 36103
334-832-4580, FAX: 334-269-6379
A psychiatrist must hold a license as a medical doctor in the state in which he practices. You can check to see if a physician is licensed by contacting the appropriate state agency. For example, in California you may check on information about psychiatrists, through the Medical Board of California, which licenses physicians, investigates complaints and takes disciplinary action. The website address is: www.mbc.ca.gov.
The California Psychiatric Association can be reached at (916) 442-5196 or at its website at www.calpsych.org
The Orange County Psychiatric Society can be reached at (714) 978-1160.
It is important to know that any physician can call himself a psychiatrist although physicians get minimal training in psychiatry in medical school. If you consult a psychiatrist, you want to make sure that he does have proper training in the field of psychiatry. Feel free to ask him where he took his post-graduate residency training in psychiatry and ask if he is board certified in psychiatry. You can verify his board certification at: www.certifieddoctor.org/scripts/verify.asp
Marriage and Family Counselor
In California a marriage and family therapist (or counselor) must hold a state license. To check on the licensure of Marriage and Family Therapists in California, you may contact: The Board of Behavioral Sciences in Sacramento, California. It can be reached at (916) 445-4933, or at its website: www.bbs.ca.gov. Licensing and disciplinary information is available at this website.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
In California you may check on the licensure of an LCSW by contacting The Board of Behavioral Sciences in Sacramento, California. It can be reached at (916) 445-4933, or at its website: www.bbs.ca.gov. Also see the information listed below under the National Association of Social Workers below.
National Professional Organizations
To find out about the relevant licensing requirements and qualifications in other states you may contact the county, state or national professional organization. Some useful addresses, phone numbers and internet sites are listed below.
American Psychological Association
750 First St., NE
Washington DC 20002
The National Register of Health Service Providers in
Psychology lists psychologists state by state in communities across the nation. It is carried in libraries and can be contacted at (202) 783-7663 or at the website: www.nationalregister.org Information about actions taken by Committee on Professional Practice and Ethics appears at:
National Association of Social Workers
750 First Street N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002
or in Sacramento, California (800) 538 2565
Society for Clinical Social Work
American Association for Marriage & Family Therapy
1133 15th St., N.W., Suite 300
Washington, D.C. 20005
American Psychiatric Association
1400 K Street. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005
Canadian Psychological Association