The Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) is a comprehensive and challenging assessment for men and women who want to enter this exciting field of mental health care. Developed by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards in consultation with expert test administrators, the exam is essential for men and women who want to obtain certification and licensure to practice psychology.
The test consists of 225 multiple-choice questions and should take no more than four hours and 15 minutes to complete. Twenty-five of these questions are pretest items used to develop future versions of the exam. Impossible to identify, they do not contribute to the final score.
The content of the EPPP is broken down into eight categories: the biological bases of behavior (11 percent of the exam); the cognitive-affective bases of behavior (13 percent); social and multicultural bases of behavior (12 percent); growth and lifestyle development (13 percent); assessment and diagnosis (14 percent); treatment, intervention, and prevention (15 percent); research methods and statistics (7 percent); and ethical, legal, and professional issues (15 percent).
Exam scores are determined by the number of questions answered correctly, or the raw score. There is no distinction between those questions answered incorrectly and those that are unanswered, so it is to the candidate’s advantage to guess when unsure of an answer.
The raw score is placed on a scale that ranges from 200 to 800 according to a formula that accounts for the relative difficulty of the test version. There is no mandatory minimum passing score for the EPPP, although it is typical for a jurisdiction to require at least a 450 for supervised practice and a 500 for independent practice. A 500 is roughly equivalent to answering 70 percent of the questions correctly.
1. The basic structure of a neuron is composed of:
a. Depolarization, soma, and neurotransmitters.
b. Cell body, axon, and dendrites.
c. Synapse, axon, and neurotransmitters.
d. Refractory cells, axon, and cell body.
2. What are the three major layers of the brain?
a. Hindbrain, midbrain, and forebrain
b. Corpus callosum, temporal lobe, and frontal lobe
c. Basil ganglia, cerebellum, and parietal
d. Midbrain, highbrain, and forebrain
3. There are two types of glandular systems in the body. What are they?
a. Exocrine and adrenal
b. Parathyroid and endocrine
c. Thyroid and adrenal
d. Endocrine and exocrine
4. What does it mean when we say that the brain has “plasticity”?
a. It has a consistency that resists complex cellular divisions
b. It cannot be altered
c. It can be altered
d. Some of its basic components are similar to polymers
5. Which of the following is primarily used to measure brain activity?
b. Stanford Binet
1. B: Cell body, axon and dendrites. The basic structure of a neuron (nerve cell) is composed of one cell body (soma), one axon, and one or more dendrites. The cell body contains many structures, including all the general parts of a cell. It is basically the control center. Dendrites receive their information from other neurons and transmit that information to the cell body. The axon extends away from the cell body to transmit or relay the neural signal.
2. A: Hindbrain, midbrain and forebrain. The hindbrain is at the central core of the brain and includes many parts that regulate such things as sensory perception and motor functions. The midbrain, just as it sounds, is located between the hindbrain and forebrain. It acts as a relay station between the forebrain and the spinal cord. The forebrain includes the most complex actions of the neural network in the central nervous system and is associated with information processing and visceral and motor functions.
3. D: Endocrine and exocrine. The endocrine system secretes hormones directly into the bloodstream where they are carried to various cells throughout the body. Many endocrine hormones regulate body processes that happen more slowly (like cell growth). Others, such as epinephrine (adrenalin) and norepinephrine from the adrenal glands, rapidly mobilize the body’s fight-flight syndrome. Exocrine glands secrete fluids directly through a duct (or tube) that ultimately leads to the surface of the body. Examples include sweat, tears, and saliva, as well as prostate fluids, pancreatic fluids, and bile.
4. C: It can be altered. As individuals experience new things, learn and grow, and adapt to injuries such as physical trauma or stroke, the brain also adapts and changes. Neural pathways reorganize over the span of the lifetime, depending upon the individual life experiences. Research has indicated that the environment can have a significant impact on brain function. For instance, in a stimulating environment, the number of synaptic connections in the brain is increased. In contract, subjects who are environmentally more restricted may demonstrate less synaptic connections.
5. D: MRI. The Stanford Binet, as well as the WISC and WAIS are primarily intelligence tests. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is a technique used to view the internal structure of the body in a very detailed way. It is a noninvasive medical test that uses a magnetic field, radio frequency pulses, and a computer to allow doctors to see things that other tests (such as CT scans and x-rays) cannot show. A “functional” MRI is increasingly being used because it can detect metabolic changes that take place in the active part of the brain, which aids in determining healthy brain activity or dysfunction.
Also known as psychotherapy, therapy helps people find ways to deal with stressful and difficult life situations and their psychological effects – depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mood disorders. Most therapists are trained psychologists. Unlike psychiatrists, psychologists cannot prescribe medication; instead, they focus on behavioral and cognitive therapy.
According to the American Psychological Association, 9 out of 10 Americans feel that psychotherapy is significantly helpful. Therapy has also been shown to improve overall health status. About two-thirds of Americans said they are likely to seek help for stress, an increase from earlier decades and a testament to greater awareness of the mental health community. Because the stigma of mental illness and mood disorder is beginning to subside, more people feel comfortable seeking therapy.
Education – Therapy jobs require a high level of education, including a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field, a doctorate (either a Ph.D. or a Psy.D. degree) and licensure/certification in the state of practice.
Trends in psychotherapy – Therapy jobs may include working one-on-one with patients, or working behind the scenes in testing, research, or administration. Many therapists become writers or teachers, helping to train the next generation of therapists. Therapy jobs also can be found in hospitals and other health care facilities. About 34% of all trained psychologists choose to start their own therapy practice.
Managed care and insurance – With activists lobbying hard to secure mental health care insurance rights, more people have access to psychotherapy and its benefits. In 2008 Congress passed the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, requiring health insurance to cover both mental and physical health equally. Because of this, therapy jobs now resemble medical jobs, in that you need to understand and work within insurance guidelines for your patients.
How To Find Therapy Jobs
The recent economic downturn has affected many fields, including psychotherapy. With changes in the economy and job losses across the nation, Americans need more help coping with stress and depression. While demand is growing steadily, competition has spiked way up. Finding therapy jobs can be a challenge, but if you’re willing to think outside the box and do some homework then you will be ahead of the game.
Use your school history. Your undergrad alma mater and graduate school are good places to start when looking for therapy jobs. They might be able to refer you to a nearby institution or private practice, and at the very least they can put your name on a list for recruiters.
Reach out to local hospitals, rehab facilities, and schools. If you are trained and licensed, you may be in high demand in your own backyard. It wouldn’t hurt to send your CV and cover letter to nearby mental health care facilities, such as hospitals and rehabilitation centers. Private and public schools of all levels also need therapists – even if they don’t have a current opening, they will keep your information on file.
Connect with other therapists. Like many other professionals, psychologists depend heavily on their list of professional and social contacts to secure therapy jobs. Online social networking websites make keeping in touch simple – if you haven’t already, join sites like Facebook and LinkedIn to keep up with contacts you’ve made over the years. When you attend psychology conferences, conventions, and meetings, linger afterwards and get to know some of your colleagues.
Take advantage of your therapy membership associations. National associations and their local chapters can be great job sources, especially if you use them to network.
Therapy Jobs Resources
Therapists need all the tools they can get. Mental health trends change constantly, the job itself can be isolating and draining, and you need to stay on top of continuing education and training. The following list of resources is a great place to start for the support you need.
American Psychological Association (www.apa.org) – clearinghouse of information on psychotherapy, including career guidance, job search, news, and the latest research. The site also offers a job search, helpful tips, and networking opportunities like conventions, meetings and online support.
Psychotherapy.net (www.psychotherapy.net) – these “resources to inspire therapists” include articles, continuing education credits, educational products, and interviews with prominent therapists.
Clinical Psych Jobs (www.clinicalpsychjobs.com) – searchable database of jobs in clinical psychology. The site also offers resume posting.
Encyclopedia of Psychology (www.psychology.org) – a database of psychology information, including a career center offering job search engines specific to psychology.
Association for Psychological Science (www.psychologicalscience.org) – Previously the American Psychological Society, the APS offers publications, conventions, and various other forms of education and networking to its members. This site also has an extensive employment section offering job listings searchable by category and location.
Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (www.asppb.org) – formed in 1961 to serve psychology boards in the United States and Canada, the ASPPB is the ultimate authority on psychology certification. This site offers specific licensure requirements by state, province, or territory, and guidelines for transferring across states.
Therapy Jobs Search Tips
Whether you are a trained school psychologist, occupational therapist, or research psychologist, finding a therapy job comes down to 1) who you know, and 2) how committed you are to the job search. If looking for a job day after day leads to depression, you won’t be able approach your job search with enough energy to find the right position. These search tips will help you remain alert and motivated.
Stay current. Psychological policies and trends change constantly. While you don’t always need to jump on the latest bandwagon, it helps to keep up-to-date with changes in clinical and counseling psychology. Your future employers and patients expect you to know what’s out there, especially when it comes to treatment. A new perspective may also put some extra energy into your career.
Prioritize your own mental health. Therapy jobs in themselves can be tough on your emotions, as you continually process your own reactions to your patients’ experience. But searching for a job in today’s market adds to the stress. According to a report from the American Psychological Association, the current economic situation is a major stressor for eight out of ten Americans. Don’t neglect your own mental health while looking for a job.
Use online search tools. The internet offers a wealth of online search engines that you should bookmark into your “favorites” folder and check daily for new job postings. Examples of search engines include Hotjobs.com, Monster.com, and Careerbuilder.com. If you check with these sites first thing every morning, you can cross it off your “to-do” list and feel that much better.
Always be professional. Take some time to clean up your resume. Your wording should clearly highlight all of your relevant education, work experience, and memberships. Also, you should have two resumes – one for printing out on nice heavy paper, and another for online submission.
What does it take to be a clinical psychologist? Well, besides being able to handle the stress and pressure of evaluating, diagnosing, and treating mental disorders, there are certain personality traits that help. It takes sensitivity and compassion to treat the client. Psychologists should be resilient and be prepared for the ups and downs of their patients’ conditions regardless of how long the process takes. And lastly, the clinical psychologist must be stable enough to deal with other people’s problems in order to refrain from getting too emotionally and personally involved with their clients. The clinical psychologist works in a variety of clinical settings, including adult mental health units, child and adolescent mental health services, primary care clinics, community mental health teams, and hospitals. The clinical psychologist works with a range of mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, and eating disorders and assists in identifying learning disabilities, such as dyslexia and attention deficit disorder. They may also assist with behavioral problems and psychical problems, like coping with life-threatening diseases and illnesses such as cancer and HIV/AIDS. Not every day in the life of a clinical psychologist will be the same, with most involved in a mixture of clinical work, administration, clinical research, and perhaps teaching.
Educational requirements for a clinical psychologist are usually an undergraduate or master’s degree in psychology. Most students will have taken courses in general psychology and experimental psychology with laboratory work and statistics. High grades and one to two years of relevant clinical research in the specialty or interest are also common requirements. Experience in the field is important and gives a student a competitive edge over others. Assisting a professor with a research project or volunteering in a mental health clinic is advantageous too. Choosing a specialty and applying to a graduate program is the next step. Most schools will require a competitive Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score (at least above 1200) and a grade point average above 3.3. All clinical programs require an American Psychological Association (APA)-approved internship. Two to three years doctoral training, clinical work and research are required as well.
Upon completing the doctoral program, whether it be a PhD (doctor of philosophy), PsyD (doctor of psychology), or EdD (doctor of education), the individual must become licensed in the state he or she chooses to practice. In order to become licensed, most states administer a multiple-choice exam and require the applicant to present a case study to a board of psychologists.
The doctoral program is rigorous albeit rewarding. It helps prepare students for the nature of the work they will do. Most patient-therapist relationships are long-standing, with most conversations being two way depending on the therapeutic orientation the therapist chooses to use. Nowadays, most therapists use the cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approach.
Although television and movies portray the life of a clinical psychologist glamorous, there is actually so much more behind the scenes. Providing assessments and evaluations are usually how most junior clinical psychologists begin their professions. These IQ and personality tests help to identify learning disabilities and cognitive deficits. The clinical psychologist helps design educational plans for children and helps parents with behavioral management plans. Many times, the clinical psychologist has out-of-the-office visits to schools, training sessions, and public talk sessions.
The psychologist’s salary varies depending on the specialty. The national average for a clinical psychologist is $124,000 a year with extra bonuses and perks. Flexibility in schedule and generous benefits are among the extras they can receive. As compared to the clinical psychologist, the national salary average for a psychiatrist is $162,000 a year, and a forensic psychologist’s salary is $63,000 a year. The national salary average for a psychotherapist is $47,000 a year, and an industrial organizational psychologist’s salary is $64,000 a year.