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Articles: ASPPB rolls out EPPP-2 – names ‘early adopters’ &
Hoffman Report’s flaws should be acknowledged  

Taking Notes in Class

ASPPB rolls out EPPP-2 – names ‘early adopters’

By James Bradshaw,

Senior Editor
February 5, 2020

Beginning in January, those seeking to take the examination for licensure as psychologists in Arizona, Nevada, Guam and the Canadian provinces of Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland

and Labrador will be required to take two tests – at an additional cost of $450.

Since 1965, all state and provincial licensing boards have required applicants to pass a written examination measuring knowledge of practice areas – the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP).

That test is now EPPP (Part 1 – Knowledge) to distinguish it from a second test, EPPP (Part 2 – Skills) designed to measure an applicant’s ability to apply that knowledge in practice. The new test will also be mandatory on Feb. 15 in Missouri, March 1 in Manitoba and Nov. 1 in Georgia.

The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) provides the exams. Adoption of the EPPP-2 has been controversial since it was first proposed that it would be mandatory for all jurisdictions beginning Jan. 1, 2020.

Strong objections and criticism led ASPPB to back off and designate the adoption of the EPPP-2 as “voluntary.”

In rolling out the new test for January, ASPPB’s website noted: “At this time, it is optional for licensing boards (jurisdictions) to sign on to require the EPPP (Part 2 – Skills). Between Jan. 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2021, jurisdictions who sign on will be considered ‘early adopters.’ ”

That seemed to indicate EPPP-2 will become mandatory in all jurisdictions Jan. 1, 2022.

But Mariann Burnetti-Atwell, Psy.D., ASPPB’s CEO, told The National Psychologist, “That decision has not been made.”

The announcement of the test rollout has re-engendered criticisms questioning the scientific validity of the skills test and accusing ASPPB of adopting it primarily as a moneymaker.

Burnetti-Atwell said a fact sheet supporting the test’s validity has been sent to member licensing boards.

Initially, ASPPB announced the second test would be priced at $600, the same as the original EPPP, but later reduced that to $450 in response to those complaints.

In actuality, the tests will cost candidates more when local fees and other charges are added.

Those costs for the original EPPP are $87.50. The same amount is likely to be added to

registering for the second test.

During consideration of adding Part 2, the association made a concession to

critics on when candidates are eligible to take the exam.

Formerly, candidates could not apply to take the test until all other requirements for licensure were completed. That was changed to permit applying once academic coursework is completed, excluding practicum, research or internship credits.

In response to those questioning why the association saw a need for adding the skills section to testing,

Burnetti-Atwell said, “Skills are not assessed in a consistent manner across jurisdictions and many of the methods used (oral exams, letters of recommendation) have reliability concerns.”

She said by adding the skills test early adopters will have a reliable, valid and defensible assessment of competency of their candidates.

“Some jurisdictions have expressed interest in replacing a state skills exam or oral exams for that reason,” she said.

She said the change to allow pre-degree candidates to take the Part 1 exam follows the medical model, which most jurisdictions believe to be the most appropriate time.

She said ASPPB began developing the skills test “because this was a known need in licensure assessment.”

As for being a moneymaker, Burnetti-Atwell said, “The costs of developing and maintaining an examination program is considerable and subsequently there are costs that must be covered.”

She said it will take years for ASPPB to recoup that cost.

“Ultimately, the decision to update the EPPP was that it helped jurisdictions to better assess their candidates and that ultimately is in the best interests of ensuring public protection.”

That reasoning is in line with the objective when the EPPP was first adopted – creating universal standards across the jurisdictions to aid mobility as psychologists change jurisdictions or temporarily practice in a jurisdiction where they are not licensed.

She said just as some jurisdictions will adopt the EPPP-2 early while others may not, it will be up to individual licensing boards to decide whether to allow taking the EPPP-1 pre-degree.

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Hoffman Report’s flaws should be acknowledged

By Sally Harvey, Ph.D.
February 5, 2020 

For the past decade, members of Division 48 (Peace) and Division 39 (Psychoanalysis) of the APA have filed and/or supported licensure and ethics complaints and attempted to instigate criminal investigations against military psychologists for abusing detainees.

None of these accusations has been found to be credible, presented as they were in the absence of evidence and in the face of unqualified denials by these psychologists.

As a military psychologist, I have anguished over what appears to be a deep-seated and prolonged bias against military psychologists by some of our colleagues. Yet even I was stunned to see the panel put forth by these two divisions at the 2019 annual convention: “Changing APA Ethical Practices in the Post-Hoffman Report Era.”

A military policeman was part of the panel, and his abstract read this way:

“While my time at Abu Ghraib took place after the infamous events of 2003-04 were revealed and operationally halted, at least at the tent camps, I was a witness of and participant in the unethical and inhumane treatment of detainees…. I placed handcuffs and shackled children in cages for punishment purposes and was forced by the nature of my duty to contribute to their general maltreatment.”

The very same groups who without evidence accused military psychologists of unethical behavior gave a public platform to someone who openly acknowledged his abuse of detainees, and proceeded to champion him not as unethical and criminal, but as a whistleblower.

I was not alone in my reaction to this abstract. Forty psychologists signed a letter to APA and the divisions supporting this panel to ask how a program touting inhumane and likely illegal behaviors could have been accepted for the convention program.

APA President Rosie Davis, Ph.D., responded that exercising oversight on the program would be to “censor content” and placed responsibility upon the panel’s organizers. She offered that APA welcomed “diversity of thought and opinion even if it is sometimes uncomfortable,” concluding by “strongly encourag[ing]” the signatories to contact Division 48.

This same “diversity of thought and opinion” encouraged by Davis has not been a feature of those criticizing the work of military psychologists. As Davis was well aware, Division 48’s president had already characterized the signatories’ concerns about the panel as “an obvious and objectionable

attempt to censor scholars and intimidate whistleblowers and veterans.”

Such a reply is absurd – many of these signatories are combat veterans who served in harm’s way to defend free speech. This anti-military bias was on full display during the panel, and it was personal. Steven Reisner, Ph.D., a Division 39 representative to the APA Council, accused (without evidence) a group consisting primarily of military psychologists of publishing documents “hacked out of our personal computers.”

A more ominous side of this bias is seen in the 2013 interview of Stephen Soldz, Ph.D. Soldz, a close colleague of Reisner and, like Reisner, a primary source for the Hoffman Report, said about Larry James, Ph.D., Division 19’s (Military Psychology) representative to council:

“James can’t write an English sentence…. They (Wright State University officials) gave him the job (director of the Department of Psychology) – partly because he’s black. The president came in and basically said, ‘We’re going to have a black dean, and that’s it.’ …But I hear he’s been an awful, awful dean. He doesn’t show up for work. He basically doesn’t do anything.”

But APA’s leaders know otherwise. On June 23, 2007, an open letter recognized James “as a

hero in [his] work at Abu Ghraib to develop training and to implement systems to prevent

further acts of abuse.” That letter’s 18 signatories included Davis as well as Sandy Shullman,

Ph.D., (president-elect, 2019) and Jennifer Kelly, Ph.D., (president-elect, 2020).

The board’s continuing silence about Soldz’s comments is inexplicable. In July, 2019, Davis herself spoke about the “pernicious effect” of racist statements: “I personally understand the harmful impact of such statements…. This is not who we are as Americans.”

Following the leak of the Hoffman Report to The New York Times, the APA board did nothing to discover the leak’s source. Credible evidence has emerged that Mr. Hoffman himself, or a member of his team, leaked the Report – as the board must have suspected, given how tightly APA controlled access to this document. If true, that would have upended the entire investigation by revealing that Hoffman had his own agenda and was not a neutral, independent investigator.

The majority of the board, despite their involvement in underlying events and knowledge of the Report’s falsity, remained silent as they proceeded to publish the Report. Only after substantial evidence mounted that Hoffman had in his possession documents and witness statements that refuted all his major findings, did the board conclude a review was necessary.

Unbelievably, despite the obvious conflict of interest and strong objections from council members, the board rehired Hoffman for this task! The statement by then APA President Susan H. McDaniel, Ph.D., in April of 2016 to council, claiming the board’s decision was “driven by our fiduciary responsibility to the association” was either naïve or intentionally disingenuous. Predictably, that report has never materialized.

But the board has not simply remained neutral or “welcomed diversity of thought and opinion.” APA summarily dismissed an ethics complaint lodged against the Special Committee co-chairs overseeing the Hoffman investigation.

The public member of the Ethics Committee, a retired judge, resigned in protest, writing that the process was “so flawed that I can no longer participate.” APA, in turn, silenced the discussion of the judge’s letter.

APA’s lawyers have persistently sought to quell criticisms of the Report, silencing staff members from discussing the Report and threatening council members with exclusion from governance meetings for speaking out with the truth.

Continuing to stand by the Hoffman Report – which APA and Hoffman’s law firm have recently described as merely Hoffman’s “opinion,” rather than an effort to find the facts and “ascertain the truth” as was originally promised – has cost APA nearly $8 million. APA members should be outraged when they consider how this money could have been spent to advance psychology.

Kelly and Shullman, both of whom are well-versed in the Hoffman controversy, have a choice. They can remain silent, perhaps out of fear of renewed media attacks by APA’s critics or the prospect of uncovering organizational malfeasance. Or they can step forward with courage in the spirit of truth and transparency – in the best interests of a scientific, ethical organization and its members. If they choose silence, it may be incumbent upon the association’s members to then consider legal avenues to speak the truth to APA power.

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Sally Harvey, Ph.D., is a retired colonel, served nearly 28 years on active duty with the U.S. Army, In 2015, she chaired a presidential task force for APA’s Division 19 (Society for Military Psychology) which produced a report refuting the Hoffman Report’s primary findings. She is an independent consultant in New Braunfels, Texas, and may be contacted at

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