Psychologists moving to the state for work can receive Arizona licenses under “reciprocity” law.

Psychologists planning to move and establish residency in Arizona may now qualify for a new license to practice if they have been licensed in another state for at least one year. 

This change is part of a “reciprocity” law signed April 10 by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R). Reciprocity requires Arizona licensing boards to recognize professional and occupational licenses granted in other states and allow relocating professionals to continue working while they apply for licensure in Arizona.  Psychologists who are licensed in another state for at least one year and have no legal impediments affecting their licensure also qualify more quickly for a new Arizona license.

In addition to having one year of licensure in another state, the law requires professionals to have no complaints filed against them, no criminal history, and they must never have had their license revoked or surrendered. The professionals must also have met the education, work experience and clinical supervision requirements of their state of licensure, passed the licensure or certification exam, and paid all applicable fees to the state of Arizona.

The law applies broadly to all licensed or certified professionals — including psychologists, physicians, hair stylists and plumbers — who move to Arizona. The reciprocity language was included in legislation that was targeted toward the spouses of military personnel in order to make it easier for them to get licensed to work within their profession when their spouses were detailed to Arizona.

Dealing with different in licensure requirements

Enacting a reciprocity law was a priority for Ducey, who sought to attract more qualified professionals to the state and reduce barriers to licensure. However, the Arizona Psychological Association (AzPA) did not support the legislation when it was proposed, fearing that other state licensure requirements were not as rigorous as those in Arizona.

“[The governor and his administration] want to attract professionals that are in good standing and make it easier for them to come to Arizona, which is commendable, but we want to be careful,” says Phil Barry, PhD, legislative representative for AzPA. There are concerns about the implications of this legislation for the practice of psychology and many other professions.

Barry says the law removes some authority from licensing and credentialing bodies such as the Arizona Board of Psychologist Examiners. Under the law, licensing boards have to grant licenses and certifications to professionals relocating from other states even if they don’t meet specific licensing requirements set in Arizona. “There is no assurance that the [out-of-state] licenses are equivalent — the big issue as far as I am concerned,” Barry says.

Also, the law only requires one year of licensure for psychologists and other professionals to qualify for reciprocity, which may not be enough experience for a psychologist. “Arizona already accepted license mobility for psychologists through the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards’ Certificate of Professional Qualification in Psychology and the National Register of Health Service Psychologists,” processes that have a five-year licensure requirement for reciprocity, Barry says.

The law does allow licensing boards to require that incoming applicants pass a jurisprudence exam on the laws of Arizona. The Arizona Board of Psychologist Examiners does not have a jurisprudence exam requirement.

Although the AzPA did not support the legislation, Barry says the association is monitoring how the legislation is implemented.

Date created: July 2019