Psychology Practice Definitions

purple bar

Client or patient means a recipient of psychological services within the context of a professional relationship. In the case of individuals with legal guardians, including minors and incompetent adults, the legal guardian shall also be considered a client or patient for decision making purposes.

Top of Page

purple bar

Code of conduct means the set of regulatory rules of professional conduct which has been adopted by the Board, PDF File  172 Nebraska Administrative Code (NAC) 156 - Regulations Defining Unprofessional Conduct by a Psychologist and PDF File 172 NAC 157 - Code of Professional Conduct for the Practice of Psychology, to protect the public welfare by providing rules that govern a professional's behavior in the professional relationship.

Top of Page

purple bar

Confidentiality ; privilege; exceptions (PDF File Neb. Rev. Stat. § 38-3131). The confidential relations and communications between psychologists and their clients and patients shall be on the same basis as those between physicians and their clients and patients as provided in PDF File Neb. Rev. Stat. § 27-504.

In judicial proceedings, whether civil, criminal, or juvenile, in legislative and administrative proceedings, and in proceedings preliminary and ancillary thereto, a client or patient, or his or her legal guardian or personal representative, may refuse to disclose or may prevent the disclosure of confidential information, including information contained in administrative records, communicated to a psychologist, or to a person reasonably believed by the client or patient to be a psychologist, or the psychologist's or person's agents, for the purpose of diagnosis, evaluation, or treatment of any mental and emotional disorder. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, the psychologist shall be presumed to be authorized to claim the privilege on the client's or patient's behalf.

This privilege may not be claimed by the client or patient, or on his or her behalf by authorized persons, in the following circumstances:

  1. When abuse or harmful neglect of children, the elderly, or disabled or incompetent individuals is known or reasonably suspected;
  2. When the validity of a will of a former client or patient of the psychologist is contested;
  3. When such information is necessary for the psychologist to defend against a malpractice action brought by the client or patient;
  4. When an immediate threat of physical violence against a readily identifiable victim is disclosed to the psychologist;
  5. When an immediate threat of self-inflicted injury is disclosed to the psychologist;
  6. When the client or patient, by alleging mental or emotional damages in litigation, puts his or her mental state in issue;
  7. When the client or patient is examined pursuant to court order;
  8. When the purpose of the proceeding is to substantiate and collect on a claim for mental or emotional health services rendered to the client or patient or any other cause of action arising out of the professional relationship; or
  9. In the context of investigations and hearings brought by the client or patient and conducted by the board, when violations of Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 38-3102 to 38-3125 are at issue.

Top of Page

purple bar

Doctoral degree means a doctoral degree from a program of graduate study in professional psychology from an institution of higher education. The degree shall be obtained from a program of graduate study in psychology that meets the standards of accreditation adopted by the American Psychological Association or present a certificate of retraining from a doctoral program in psychology which meets standards of accreditation adopted by the American Psychological Association. It is the responsibility of the applicant to provide evidence to demonstrate equivalency if the program is not accredited by the American Psychological Association.

Top of Page

purple bar

Duty to warn ; limitation; immunity (Neb. Rev. Stat. §38-3132)

  1. No monetary liability and no cause of action shall arise against any psychologist for failing to warn of and protect from a client’s or patient’s threatened violent behavior or failing to predict and warn of and protect from a client’s or patient’s violent behavior except when the client or patient has communicated to the psychologist a serious threat of physical violence against a reasonably identifiable victim or victims.
  2. The duty to warn of or to take reasonable precautions to provide protection from violent behavior shall arise only under the limited circumstances specified in subsection (1) of this section. The duty shall be discharged by the psychologist if reasonable efforts are made to communicate the threat to the victim or victims and to a law enforcement agency.
  3. No monetary liability and no cause of action shall arise against any person who is a psychologist for a confidence disclosed to third parties in an effort to discharge a duty arising under subsection (1) of this section in accordance with subsection (2) of this section.

Top of Page

purple bar

Inactive License means the voluntary termination of the right or privilege to practice psychology. The licensee retains the right or privilege to represent himself or herself as having an inactive license.

Top of Page

purple bar

Institution of higher education means a university, professional school, or other institution of higher learning that:

Top of Page

purple bar

Internship means a program meeting the standards of accreditation adopted by the American Psychological Association. It is the responsibility of the applicant to provide evidence to demonstrate equivalency if the program is not accredited by the American Psychological Association.

Top of Page

purple bar

Lapsed License means the voluntary termination of the right or privilege to represent oneself as a licensed person and to practice psychology.

Top of Page

purple bar

Major mental and emotional disorders means any mental and emotional disorder in which the following behaviors occur or might reasonably be expected to occur regardless of specific diagnoses or the nature of the presenting complaint (PDF File 172 NAC 155 - 002.20):

  • Persistent and/or severe suicidal or homicidal thinking and/or behaviors;
  • Persistent and/or severe behaviors injurious to self and/or others;
  • Psychotic symptoms which include delusions, hallucinations, or formal thought disorders; or
  • Physical complaints or signs suggestive of deterioration or anomaly in physiological, psychophysiological or neuropsychological functioning.

The following diagnoses as referenced in the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and the International Classification of Diseases are major mental disorders:

  • Schizophrenia;
  • Major depressive disorder;
  • Bipolar disorder;
  • Delusional disorder;
  • Psychotic disorder;
  • Panic disorder; and
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder.

Certain diagnoses which are referenced in the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and the International Classification of Diseases, such as dissociative disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, dissociative identity disorder, severe eating disorder, and borderline personality disorder, are more likely than others to demonstrate one or more of the above behavioral criteria, although these diagnoses alone do not constitute a major mental disorder.

Persons who have exhibited behaviors consistent with a major mental disorder in the past have an increased probability of exhibiting such behaviors in the future, especially under stress.

Top of Page

purple bar

Mental and emotional disorder means a clinically significant behavioral or psychological syndrome or pattern that occurs in a person and is associated with present distress or disability or with significantly increased risk of suffering death, pain, disability, or an important loss of freedom. Such disorders may take many forms and have varying causes but must be considered a manifestation of behavioral, psychological, or biological dysfunction in the person. Reasonable descriptions of the kinds and degrees of mental and emotional disorders may be found in the revisions of accepted nosologies such as the International Classification of Diseases and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Top of Page

purple bar

Postdoctoral experience means work as a psychologist under the direct supervision of a licensed psychologist qualified to offer the services provided. To be postdoctoral, the experience must follow the formal awarding of the doctoral degree by an appropriate institution of higher education. The supervision shall be agreed to prior to the beginning of the period of experience and shall provide a level of oversight and training appropriate to the individual's experience level. In no case, however, shall such supervision constitute less than one hour per week. Such experience shall be compatible with knowledge and skills acquired during formal doctoral or postdoctoral education in accordance with professional requirements and relevant to the intended area of practice.

Top of Page

purple bar

Practice of Psychology means the observation, description, evaluation, interpretation, or modification of human behavior by the application of psychological principles, methods, or procedures for the purpose of preventing or eliminating symptomatic, maladaptive, or undesired behavior and of enhancing interpersonal relationships, work and life adjustment, personal effectiveness, behavioral health, and mental health. The practice of psychology shall include, but not be limited to, psychological testing and the evaluation or assessment of personal characteristics such as intelligence, personality, abilities, interests, aptitudes, and psychophysiological and neuropsychological functioning; counseling, psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, hypnosis, biofeedback, and behavior analysis and therapy; diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders, alcoholism and substance abuse, disorders of habit or conduct, and the psychological aspects of physical illness, accident, injury, or disability; psychoeducational evaluation, therapy, remediation, and consultation; and supervision of qualified individuals performing services specified in this section. Psychological services may be rendered to individuals, families, groups, organizations, institutions, and the public. The practice of psychology shall be construed within the meaning of this definition without regard to whether payment is received for services rendered.

Top of Page

purple bar

Supervision means a professional relationship in which a licensed psychologist shall have oversight responsibility for the psychological work of an individual not licensed as a psychologist. The purpose of supervision shall be to provide training to assist the supervisee to achieve full licensure whether practicing under a special license or not. In the case of a supervisee practicing under a special license, the supervisor will be responsible for determining the extent and character of supervision, keeping in mind the education and experience of the supervisee. In all cases the supervisor shall be competent to provide the services being supervised.

In this role, the supervisor assumes full legal and professional responsibility for the work of the supervisee. In cases involving oversight of individuals completing the postdoctoral experience (provisional licensees), individuals who have been issued a special license to practice psychology, or registration as a psychological assistant or psychologist associate; a supervisor may supervise up to four (4) individuals. Supervision shall be reflected on all documentation by a co-signature of the supervisor.

The supervisory relationship shall be agreed to in writing prior to its commencing and shall provide for a level of contact appropriate to the supervisee's experience and training. All clients shall be advised of this supervisory relationship. A copy of the contract must be provided to the Department.

Supervision is in contrast to consultation as defined in the PDF File Mental Health Practice Act (Mental Health Practitioner) in which case the type and extent of consultation shall be determined by the licensed psychologist.

Top of Page

purple bar

Supervision of a person with a master's degree in psychology means a professional relationship in which a licensed psychologist (not an individual who holds a special license to practice psychology) shall have oversight responsibility for the psychological work of an individual with a Master's Degree from an approved program, in clinical, counseling, or educational psychology or an Educational Specialist Degree in School Psychology who administers and scores and may develop interpretations of psychological testing under the supervision of the licensed psychologist. Such individuals shall be deemed to be conducting their duties as an extension of the legal and professional authority of the supervising psychologist and shall not independently provide interpretive information or treatment recommendations to clients or other health care professionals prior to obtaining appropriate supervision.

The purpose of this supervision will be to provide oversight that insures competent and ethical practice in accordance with the statutes and Code of Conduct as promulgated by this Board. The supervisor assumes full legal and professional responsibility for the work of the supervisee and must be fully competent to provide the psychological services which are being supervised. The supervisory relationship shall be agreed to in writing prior to its commencing. A copy of this agreement shall be submitted to the Board prior to its commencing. The Department shall acknowledge such receipt. Professional reports prepared by the master's degree individual must be co-signed by the supervisor who is a licensed psychologist. The supervisor/licensed psychologist must meet with the supervisee a minimum of one hour per week in face to face individual supervision.

Individuals practicing under this section may use the title psychological assistant in accordance with PDF File Neb. Rev. Stat. §38-3113 OR if a person has carried out the duties described above as part of their employment in institutions accredited by the Department of Public Institutions, the State Department of Education, or the Department of Correctional Services for a period of two (2) years prior to September 1, 1994, may use the title psychologist associate in the context of their employment in such settings. Use of the title shall be restricted to duties described in this subdivision, and the title shall be used in its entirety. Partial or abbreviated use of the title and use of the title beyond what is specifically authorized in this subdivision shall constitute the unlicensed practice of psychology.

Top of Page

purple bar

Documents in PDF format require the use of Adobe Acrobat Reader which can be downloaded for free from Adobe Systems, Inc.  Get Adobe Acrobat Reader

Psychology Page