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TESTIMONY from MR. MICHAEL NAHL
before the Health and Government Operations Committee
of the Maryland General Assembly regarding

HOUSE BILL 953
on March 4, 2004

Mr. Nahl is a member of the FACT Board of Directors.

Fair Access Coalition on Testing
Supporting House Bill  - 953
Submitted by Michael Nahl

Good afternoon, members of the Health and Government Operations Committee of the Maryland General Assembly.  My name is Michael Nahl, and I am the Advocacy Chair of the National Fair Access Coalition on Testing (FACT). I have been a member of the Steering Committee of FACT since its inception in 1995 and I am a licensed professional counselor in Virginia who specializes in the use of psychological testing. I am here to provide testimony in support of House Bill 953 (“HB 953”), State Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists (“the Board”)– Specialized Psychological Testing.

The National Fair Access Coalition on Testing represents over half a million clinicians in various professions.  Among the national organizations represented in FACT are the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the American Mental Health Counselors Association, the American Counseling Association, the Association for Psychological Type, the Association of Test Publishers, CPP, Inc., Educational and Industrial Testing Service, the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Coalition of Arts Therapies Associations, the North American Association of Masters in Psychology, and the Vocational Evaluation Network Adjustment Association.  Moreover, the organization includes credentialing bodies such as the National Board for Certified Counselors, the Art Therapy Credentials Board, the Center for Credentialing in Education, the Certification of Disability Management Specialists Commission, the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselors Certification, and the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.  A variety of state branches, boards, and divisions are also represented within the membership of FACT.

The organizations and individuals represented by FACT are united in their support of the premise that psychological testing should not be restricted to clinical psychologists or, for that matter, any other profession, but rather that its use should be based on competency and not licensure.  All of the organizations and individuals represented by FACT share the common expectation that individuals utilizing psychological tests will be sufficiently educated and trained to provide competent and capable services.  We have written a code of ethics that is based on the contributions of all of our member professions’ codes of ethics.  The National Fair Access Coalition on Testing proudly supports the House Bill 953, which operationally defines the criteria that Maryland professional counselors must meet in order to utilize psychological testing.  This self-governance is very laudable and, in our experience, goes beyond the requirements of any licensure law for counselors or psychologists that addresses qualifications for testing.

Many of my colleagues have, or will, present cogent arguments that explain the value of making additional competent psychological evaluators available to the citizens of Maryland.  The thrust of FACT’s commentary is that psychological testing is not in the province of psychologists only, but that it is a valuable tool that should be shared among all duly trained, licensed, certified, or experienced individuals.  No one profession or body should have the right to restrict the practice of another, nor should one profession be given the right to exclusive decisions about intellectual property, like psychological testing, that is created by a wide variety of professions. Many "psychological" tests were
authored by nonpsychologists who would be barred from using their own tests if the Board of Psychology were able to reserve psychological tests only for licensed psychologists!

House Bill 953 is a shining example of legislation that establishes a high degree of competency required to perform psychological testing, and thereby amply provides for the protection of the public. We strongly endorse House Bill 953 and strongly oppose Senate bill 696.

I would like to briefly present myself as an illustration of a licensed professional counselor who specializes in psychological testing.  In 1976, Virginia became the first state to license professional counselors. We have performed testing ever since, including projective testing since 1993.  We are reimbursed for testing by TRICARE, Medicaid, all commercial insurances, and virtually all managed care companies.  I provide psychological testing for several clinical practices, a variety of Hampton Roads courts, and many public agencies.  I also co-own Personnel Assessment Services and Police Psychological Services.  These businesses provide pre-employment testing, fit for duty evaluations, promotional testing, and other evaluations to businesses and city agencies.

I have a Master’s degree in Psychology and additional courses in Counseling.  Three of my graduate courses directly involved psychological testing, but I also took related courses in statistics, research methods, psychopathology, and the like.  I am a member of the Society for Personality Assessment and the International Rorschach Society.  I am a past president of the Virginia Association of Clinical Counselors and current president of the Hampton Roads Association of Clinical Counselors.  I have served in national leadership and currently sit on the Steering Committee of the Fair Access Coalition on Testing, representing the American Mental Health Counselors Association.  For years, I was on the Provider Advisory Committee of Tricare Regions 2 & 5, and was a member of the Psychological Testing Subcommittee, for which I wrote the report about our committee’s work.  In addition, I am on the National Credentials Committee of Value Options, a major managed care company.

I have been performing psychological testing since 1977, for many years under the supervision of clinical psychologists while I worked in a psychiatric hospital, performing the vast majority of all psychological evaluations.  Since I am now licensed to practice testing independently, I no longer utilize such supervision, but instead supervise others.  I estimate that I have performed close to 10,000 psychological evaluations of various types over my career.  Those of us who do psychological testing are a relatively small minority of counselors and psychologists.  We are generally highly trained practitioners whose practice is governed by our licensing boards, various codes of ethics and standards of practice, and the test publishers’ guidelines.

In closing, I thank the Committee for the opportunity to testify.


 

 
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