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 Advancing Psychology as a 
Science and as a Profession
Since 1949

Psychologists: Who we are and what we do

Psychology is generally defined as the scientific study of human behavior, emotions and cogni-tions. Psychologists study the broad array of human experience and use their knowledge to improve the human condition across a variety of settings.

What do psychologists do?

Psychologists are commonly thought of as pro-viders of mental health services. Using tech-niques based on the best available research, clinical skills and experience, psychologists help people to cope more effectively with life prob-lems. Psychological services lead to improve-ments in mental and physical health, as well as increased functioning and productivity.

What is required to become a psychologist?

Training for a psychologist involves competitive graduate school selection, rigorous academic preparation and extensive one-on-one clinical supervision. An average of 11 years is required for the training process from the start of an undergraduate degree to the point of inde-pendent licensure to practice. The lengthy training process assures the public that psychologists are highly qualified profes-sionals who operate from an extensive base of knowledge and experience.

The Challenge: Psychologist Workforce Shortage

Iowa is facing a critical shortage of psychologists.

  1.  Iowa ranks 46th among the states in the num-ber of psychologists per capital
  2. Lowest rank of psychologists among neighbor-ing states
  3. Nearly 50% of Iowa psychologists are currently over the age of 55.


In 2007 the Iowa Legislature appropriated $50,000 to explore options for increasing the psychology workforce. This funding allowed the Association to hire a training director, identify solutions to the workforce shortage, collabo-rate with potential training sites, apply for other funding and propose a pilot project for psychology training.

In 2008 the Iowa Legislature appropriated an additional $50,000 to conduct a pilot project to start a training site in a rural community mental health center. The aim of the pilot project is to

  1. Develop a postdoctoral training program that focuses on serving the mental health needs of rural and underserved Iowans
  2.  Gather information about the financial and educational aspects of the program so that it may be replicated in other sites across the state. Poweshiek County Men-tal Health Center in Grinnell is the site of the pilot project.

Trainees are expected to commit to continued practice in Iowa. Currently, the site has one postdoctoral trainee completing the program and has selected a second trainee for the 2009-2010 training year. It is expected that the ini-tial $50,000 in funds will allow a third trainee to be selected for the 2010-2011 training year. To train three psychologists on a limited budget of $50,000 is a remarkable accomplishment.

1Source: Iowa’s Mental Health Workforce (2006) . A report by the Center for Workforce Planning, Iowa Department of Public Health

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