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Be a psychologist without being a collegiate: is it possible?

Be a psychologist without being a collegiate: is it possible?

October 2, 2023

We have finished the Degree in Psychology. And now that? Do we consider doing a master's degree, we present ourselves to the PIR or to oppositions from another branch of psychology? Do we practice directly in any field?

We can take any of these options, but before getting to exercise we have to take into account if we intend to practice as such, we will be asked to join us. But you have to ask yourself Is it possible to practice as a psychologist without being a collegiate?

  • Related article: "Psychologists: what they do and how they help people"

What does it mean to get registered?

The Official College of Psychologists (COP) is an institution responsible for regulating the professional practice of psychology in Spain.

Their tasks are broad, because it is the institution that is responsible for ensuring the interests of both professionals and their clients, establishing regulations (such as the deontological code) that entail the recognition of a series of rights and guarantees, contributing to advise and form to its members and promoting the development of psychology. It also fights against the existence of professional intrusion from other occupational sectors.

The fact of becoming a collegiate implies being part of a group that brings together the majority of professionals in the sector, so that it facilitates the contact with the professional and the formation of groups and committees Dedicated or specialized in different areas. Likewise, in order to be a member of the university, it is necessary to have a background in regulated psychology (specifically, a bachelor's degree in psychology), which implies a greater level of security for your clients in terms of knowledge and qualification of the subject within the scope of the psychology.

Despite the fact that it implies an economic cost (collegiality means paying a half-yearly fee), membership also has a series of benefits beyond those previously mentioned. Some of the most relevant include the aforementioned legal advice in case of need and the possibility of consulting the ethics committee before ethical conflicts, the inclusion in a job board, the obtaining of accreditations, the possibility of training in different courses that allow to maintain a continuous training (some training results from a distance while other courses have discounts) or the possibility of benefiting from the agreements and relations of the school with different institutions and companies.

  • Related article: "Clinical psychology: definition and functions of the clinical psychologist"

Historical obligation

The need to become a collegiate has been an aspect that has been linked to psychology in Spain since its inception.

In the year 1974 the law 2/1974 of Professional Associations was elaborated in which it indicated that all activity that was regulated by a professional school required the registration in said school to be carried out . This would include psychology from 1979, when law 43/1979 on the creation of the Official College of Psychologists was established.

Since then, this provision has been ratified throughout history in various laws, including the law 7/1997 in which it was considered an essential requirement for the exercise of the collegiate professions to be incorporated into the corresponding school by simply enrolling in one of them in case of having different territorial colleges in the State, or the law 25/2009, which also includes the obligation to enroll in the Professional Association in its articles 3 and 5 modifying some aspects of the one established in 1974.

As we see, throughout history it has been necessary to be collegiate to be able to practice. However, in recent years there has been controversy as to whether it is necessary to graduate or not to practice as a psychologist. During 2013, the Draft Law on Services and Professional Associations was drafted, which defined and reduced the type of professions that required membership to be able to practice the legal, technical and health fields . In the latter case, several branches related to medicine and other disciplines were included, but nevertheless clinical psychologists were excluded.

This supposed that the performance of the psychologist would not need to be registered in the Official College of Psychologists. However, it was argued that the professional performance of the psychologist requires assurances regarding having the necessary training for it, given that it involves an intervention that occurs negligently and without sufficient preparation can put at risk the integrity of patients or clients . That is why the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness has determined in its latest draft the reinclusion of psychology within the professions that do require registration .

Collegiate: essential?

In conclusion, currently for the legal practice of psychology in Spain is necessary the membership in the Official College of Psychologists. This obligation is given for those who exercise their work in both public and private clinical practice . Failure to do so will be committing an act punishable by law, considering an administrative offense punishable.

On the other hand, those professionals who are not linked to clinical-health practice are not legally required to be registered unless their activity is directly aimed at citizenship, due to the consideration that the constitution establishes the imperative of freedom of association . Despite this, it is advisable, since even without being a legal imperative is required in many jobs and can offer attractive advantages to its members.

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