May 20, 1997 New Castle County - Civil Division- (302-577-8400) Carol Ellis, Director Division of Professional Regulation Cannon Building, Suite 203 P.O. Box 1401 Dover, Delaware 19903 Re: Twenty-four Del. C. § 3519(e) - Exemption from Licensure Dear Ms. Ellis: You have asked whether unlicensed psychologists on the staff of the University of Delaware Center for Counseling and Student Development ("Counseling Center") are exempt from licensure for the 6 year period under 24 Del. C. § 3519(e). For the reasons stated below, we believe that they are. The second paragraph of 24 Del. C. § 3519(e) was introduced as House Amendment No. 1 to Senate Bill No. 61 and was enacted as part of 70 Del. Laws Ch. 57 in 1995. The second paragraph provides :
"Notwithstanding any contrary provisions in this chapter, any person who is a full-time faculty member in a nationally accredited doctoral level clinical training program in the State, and who is actively pursuing licensure under this chapter for a period not to exceed 6 years, may participate in and may supervise matriculated graduate students in activities defined as the practice of psychology within the context of such programs; and may conduct any research and teaching activities related to the activities of such program."
There are, therefore, three requirements for a person to be exempted pursuant to § 3519(e). First, the person must be a "full-time faculty member." Second, said faculty member must be in a "nationally accredited doctoral level clinical training program in the State." Third, the person must be "actively pursuing licensure under this chapter for a period not to exceed 6 years." We understand from your letter that the two parts of this statute which are at issue when applying it to the Counseling Center are whether the staff at the Counseling Center are "full-time faculty members" and whether the Counseling Center conducts a "nationally accredited doctoral level clinical training program training program in the State."(1) In letters to the Board of Examiners of Psychologists ("Board") dated September 30, 1996 and January 23, 1997, John B. Bishop, Ph.D., Assistant Vice President for Student Life, states that the persons employed as psychologists in the Counseling Center are full-time faculty members according to the Constitution and By-laws of the University of Delaware. He attaches to those letters sections of the University Constitution. Section 1 of that Constitution provides that "full-time professional members...in the Center for Counseling and Student Development" are part of the University faculty with full voting membership in the University Faculty. It appears that the Board's concern is that these persons may not actually be engaging in instructional activity full-time. We do not read § 3519(e) as requiring that. It merely requires that the person be a "full-time faculty
member". The University defines the psychologists in the Counseling Center as full-time faculty members by its Constitution and there is nothing in § 3519(e) to suggest that the General Assembly meant anything other than one who is so designated by the institution of higher learning. Second, Dr. Bishop has stated that the Counseling Center runs an internship program that is accredited by the American Psychological Association ("APA"). We understand that this internship program, or another similar APA accredited program, is a requirement for receiving a doctoral degree in psychology for most accredited programs and, therefore, part of the program matriculated graduate students must complete to receive their doctoral degree. Therefore, this internship program is a "nationally accredited doctoral level clinical training program in the State" in that it is both nationally accredited by the recognized accrediting association as well as being a clinical training program at the doctoral level since it is part of the course of study needed to be completed in order to achieve the doctorate degree in psychology. We are aware that some of the Board's concern is based on the fact that House Amendment No. 1, which contains the language at issue here, was negotiated late in the session and had in mind the faculty members in the Department of Psychology of University of Delaware and not the Counseling Center. However, as shown above, the clear language of the statute leads to only one result. A fundamental rule of statutory construction is "to ascertain and give affect to the intent of the legislature." Coastal Barge Corp v. Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board, Del. Supr., 492 A.2d 1242 (1985) "[I]f the statute as a whole is unambiguous, there is no reasonable doubt as to the meaning of the words used and the Court's role is then limited to an application of the literal meaning of the words." Id . at 1246. We believe the language is clear and there is no need to resort to other methods of statutory construction. Additionally, the Synopsis of House Amendment No. 1 to Senate Bill No. 61 supports our conclusion. The Synopsis states in part:
"This Amendment permits the continuation without interruption of well-qualified clinical programs which provide valuable training for doctoral psychology degree candidates, and a valuable public service. It allows post graduate program faculty members, who must spend time researching, teaching, and supervising students, additional time to comply with psychologist licensure requirements..."
In summary, we find that the language of the second paragraph of 24 Del. C. § 3519(e) is clear and unambiguous. Nothing in the language suggests that it was intended to apply only to the Department of Psychology and not to programs such as the Counseling Center.(2) If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. Very truly yours, Malcolm S. Cobin Assistant State Solicitor MSC:ce Approved: ____________________________ Michael J. Rich, State Solicitor
1. We are aware that the Board is working on regulations to
define the third prong, namely when someone is actively pursuing
licensure for a period not to exceed 6 years.
2. This opinion is based on the facts that have been presented in
your letter and the attachments thereto; namely that the
Counseling Center is an APA accredited internship program for
doctoral candidates, that the persons at issue are full-time
faculty members of the University of Delaware, and that such
persons comply with the requirement to pursue licensure in 6
years or less.
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