New Jersey Psychological Association
Advocacy Report  
4th Quarter


On October 29, 2020, the Licensure Amendments Bill  S2582/A543 that revises psychologist training requirements
passed both houses and is in front of the governor for signing.

NJPA has
a call in with the governor’s office to discuss the points of the bill and we submitted a letter requesting that the governor sign the legislation. We are hearing positive feedback regarding the intent of the legislation.

Read more below!

The Importance of Your NJPA Membership!

NJPA is fighting for the promotion, protection, and enhancement of the profession.  Being a member of NJPA means that you can participate in the process. Stay alert, stay active, stay an NJPA member in 2021!

Your membership will expire on December 31st. Plan ahead and renew before December 1st and you’ll get a $20 coupon to be used toward any 2021 NJPA live continuing education webinar/venue program!

Click here to renew your dues now

Federal Advocacy

APA advocates for federal policies and legislation that advance human welfare and improve society.

 Click here for a full list of APA’s advocacy initiatives.

2020 American Psychological Association Practice Leadership Conference 

In March 2020, NJPA President and elected CSL Member-at-Large, Lucy Sant'Anna Takagi, PsyD, NJPA President-Elect, Daniel Lee, PsyD, NJPA Executive Director, Keira Boertzel-Smith, JD, Director of Professional Affairs, Susan C. McGroarty, PhD, NJPA Diversity Delegate, Alexandra Gil, MA, and NJPA Early Career Psychologist Delegate, Chris King, JD, PhD, represented NJPA at the 2020 APA PLC. Your NJPA delegates sent, from Washington, DC, updates on changes in the Medicare law, and the most current notifications on the emerging COVID-19 crisis and how it would impact psychologists and their patients.

On March 11, 2020, NJPA conducted virtual Capitol Hill visits. We asked our state representatives to: 
1. Urge passage of the “Medicare Mental Health Access Act” (H.R. 884/S. 2772);

2. Exclude psychologists’ services from the projected 7% payment reduction in 2021;

3. Strengthen funding for critical psychology workforce programs.

The 2021 APA Practice Leadership Conference will be held virtually in March 2021.

Thank you 2020 NJPA Committee on Legislative Affairs Members!

Daniel Lee, PsyD
(Board Co-Chair/NJPA President-Elect);
Virginia Waters, PhD (Secretary and COLA Co-Chair for Q2-Q4 2020);
Aida Ismael-Lennon, PsyD (Member);
Gregory Benson, PsyD
Debra Davis, PhD
Barry Katz, PhD
(Past 2019 COLA Chair/Member);
Kristina Kroot, MA
(NJPAGS Rep);  
Michelle Pievsky, PhD (Member);
Hulon Newsome, PsyD (Member); 
Frank Weiss, PhD
(Past 2018 Chair/Member);
Harold Zullow, PhD

Keira Boertzel-Smih,
(Executive Director); 

Jon Bombardieri
(Government Affairs Agent)    

 Follow us!

 Get Involved!!!!!

Visit the NJPA Member Advocacy website page (login required)

There are a lot of changes occurring in the NJPA Committee on Legislative Affairs (COLA), including ongoing efforts to keep membership informed and more involved in the process of legislative advocacy.  Legislative information and updates can be found in the NJPA Friday Updates, stand-alone email blasts, publications, and on NJPA social media. Visit the Member Advocacy website page to  review current bills and submit comments to COLA or notify COLA of a bill of interest to the profession.

Consider joining COLA! 
If interested, please contact NJPA Executive Director, Keira Boertzel-Smith or at 973-243-9800.

NJPA Legislator of the Year

The NJPA Legislator of the Year honors a New Jersey legislator who has sponsored or championed legislation that directly benefits psychologists and/or consumers of psychological services.

2020 Legislator of the Year:  Angelica M. Jimenez

Click here to read about the NJPA Legislator of the Year award winners.

In October, Dr. Lucy Sant'Anna Takagi and Keira Boertzel-Smith represented NJPA at Assemblywoman Huttle’s virtual legislative eventAssemblywoman Huttle was the NJPA 2018 Legislator of the Year.  We discussed psychology, psychologists, NJPA, access to care, and telehealth in NJ. 

NJPA, NJPAF, and Affiliates Joint Meetings on Advocacy

We will continue our joint advocacy efforts in 2021, much like the below 2020 event. On September 13, 2020, NJPA and NJPA Foundation leadership participated in an EUCAP meeting to discuss NJPA, NJPAF, and EUCAP currrent topics.  Assemblywoman Nancy Muñoz was a featured guest at this meeting and spoke with the meeting attendees about the impact of COVID on access to mental health and mental health care, and funding for important health care in New Jersey. We discussed legislative issues such as the New Jersey School Based Youth Services Program (SBYSP), continuing education for professionals, and licensure amendments. We went on to have a robust discussion about the need to expand and extend the use of telehealth past the New Jersey COVID state of emergency. Click here to read more.

NJPA Foundation - Empowering and Training Psychologists of the Future

in New Jersey, access to care remains a challenge, especially for the most vulnerable.  The mission of our Foundation focuses on supporting future mental health professionals, who are training to work with children and families recovering from sexual and physical abuse, neglect, and domestic violence, children in the foster care system, and individuals with special educational needs.   Our ability to help support programs focused on delivering mental health services to these underserved populations depends on the generosity of our donors.  Your generous donations will help open the door to access to mental health services for these deserving individuals.

Listen to this important message from NJPA Foundation President, Matt Hagovsky, PhD introducing the NJPAF 2020 “Donate a Session for the Profession” Fundraising Drive.

Support the Future of Psychology. Donate to the NJPA Foundation today. Click here to make a donation.

People are struggling.  NJPA is here for you, your clients, and the public

Setting our Intentions for 2021

Life during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic can be extremely stressful. This ongoing stress has translated into a new normal of frequently and openly discussing mental health issues, and a flood of New Jersey mental health legislation for review. Legislators are contacting NJPA to discuss existing and potential legislation related to mental health. NJPA members are contacting NJPA Central Office, leadership, and our NJPA Director of Professional Affairs about their guild issues related to COVID-19. NJPA is proposing our own legislation related to access to care. The American Psychological Association is reaching out to collaborate on important initiatives.

One thing is clear, 2021 will only get busier. NJPA is setting our 2021 advocacy intentions for being a responsive and effective mental health resource in New Jersey.  Gain a seat at the table! NJPA's Committee on Legislative Affairs (COLA) is currently looking for more volunteers. Consider joining COLA!  If interested, please contact NJPA Executive Director, Keira Boertzel-Smith or at 973-243-9800.

Here are some examples of new state legislation related to mental health: 

A-4919/S-3147 Revises definition of domestic violence to include psychological abuse and economic abuse.

A-4929  “College Mental Health Services Act”; establishes grant program for public institutions of higher education and requires public institutions of higher education to report certain information concerning mental health treatment and suicides.

A-4930/S3013  Renames “security aid” as “health and safety aid” to reflect that secure schools provide for students’ mental health; provides that State aid for nonpublic school security services may also be used for mental health services. 

A-4931 Requires school districts to establish procedures for online reporting of harassment, intimidation, and bullying.

A-4645/S-3111   Requires health insurance carriers to categorize mental health treatment and therapy received by victim of domestic violence as medically necessary treatment and provide full benefits coverage therefor.

S-3096  "Improved Suicide Prevention, Response, and Treatment Act."

S-3101 Requires institution of higher education to provide victim-centered training to employees who assist student victims of sexual assault.

S-3102 Requires institutions of higher education to adopt affirmative consent standard and other policies regarding sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.

Understanding the New Jersey Legislation Process

The 2018-2019 NJ legislative session ended on January 13, 2020 and the new session began the next day on January 14, 2020.  All 2018-2019 legislation that did not get through both houses, and also bills that got to the governor’s desk and were not signed by the governor, died and had to be introduced by the sponsor for the 2020-2021 legislative session, if they decided to follow through with the bill.

The New Jersey Legislative Website page -

NJPA Advocacy Status Report

I.  Permanent Expansion of Telehealth
Dr. Lucy Sant'Anna Takagi testified at the Senate Health Committee Telehealth Meeting. The Committee heard testimony from members of the public concerning the provision of services using telemedicine and telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic, including how those services are covered under health benefit plans, and the ways in which state law concerning the provision of services using telemedicine and telehealth may be revised or restructured on a permanent basis. (Listen to Dr. Lucy Sant/Anna Takagi starting at recording time 1:38:00)

Chairman Vitale and the committee members are currently reviewing all the comments that have been submitted and plan to have a follow-up hearing to discuss their findings and next steps.  The Chairman anticipates having the follow-up meeting in December.

NJPA Updated Talking points and outreach to Senator Vitale

II. PsyPact in New Jersey S2506/A4205
In July 2020, the NJPA Executive Board approved to support the bill, and o
n September 18, 2020 voted to actively support this bill. This position requires the full resources of NJPA behind a bill, including financial support, grassroots activation, NJPA written communication, and preparing testimony to present at legislative hearings. NJPA’s government affairs agent shall actively lobby sponsor(s), committees, legislature, and the governor’s office.

NJPA has been providing Assemblyman Greenwald with PsyPact resources and anecdotes illustrating how PsyPact will help with access to and continuity of mental health care.

Director of Professional Affairs, Dr. Susan McGroarty wrote an article for our members, reminding them that if licensed in NJ and EITHER your feet OR the client’s feet are not in NJ proceed with caution and seek information to make sure you are complying with interjurisdictional practice regulations. Click here to read the article.

III. Licensure Amendments S2582/A543 Revises psychologist training requirements

On October 29, 2020, the bill passed both houses and is in front of the governor for signing. If this bill is signed into law, it means: 

  • Psychologists still have to complete 3500 hours of supervised experience and pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) before obtaining a license.
  • If signed, however, all 3500 hours may be completed pre-doctorally.
    • Currrently, only 1750 hours could be completed pre-doctorally and 1750 have to be completed post-doctorally.
    • If an applicant has not completed all 3500 hours pre-doctorally, they will be able to  accrue them post-doctorally.

IV.  Earmarking Continuing Education Training to Include Suicide Prevention - Bill A2961 that requires annual suicide prevention training for mental health practitioners.
On October 16, 2020, Drs. Daniel Lee, Hulon Newsome, and Barry Katz, with NJPA Executive Director, Keira Boertzel-Smith, and Government Affairs Agent, Jon Bombardieri, met with Assemblyman DePhillips to discuss this bill.  We shared that NJPA wants to support New Jersey legislators’ commendable efforts to prevent suicides by New Jersey residents as seen in Bill A2961, as we share this same preventative interest.  At the same time, NJPA would like to manage the earmarking of psychologists’ continuing education required credits by third parties and other professionals. The assemblyman is currently reviewing these points. We will continue the discussion.

V. Maiden Names A2308/S3145
We are pleased to report that our NJPA advocacy work is paying off and we are moving our Bill A2308, that addresses legal names required on applications for professional and occupational licensure, through the legislative process. In October, our bill was up in the Assembly Regulated Professions Committee. The bill passed passed the Assembly Regulated Professions Committee by votes of 8-0 Click here to listen to NJPA President-Elect, Dr. Daniel Lee, testify in Trenton  (The committee begins talking about the bill 3:53 minutes in the recording.  Dr. Lee's testimony and the bill vote starts 5:09 - 8:54 minutes into the recording.) 

The assembly bill now goes to the General Assembly for a full vote of that house.  NJPA has submitted a letter to the Speaker asking that the legislation be posted for a vote. 

On November 5th, Senator Greenstein introduced the senate version, S-3145, which was referred to the Senate Commerce Committee.  NJPA submitted a letter to Chairwoman Pou asking that the legislation be posted in committee. 

NJPA Bill Positions

1. Actively Support - This position requires the full resources of NJPA behind a bill, including, financial support, grassroots activation, NJPA written communication, and preparing testimony to present at legislative hearings. NJPA’s government affairs agent shall actively lobby sponsor(s), committees, legislature, and the governor’s office.

2. Support – This position may require written communication from NJPA indicating our support. Limited resources committed to effort. NJPA’s government affairs agent may lobby if necessary.

3. Seeking Amendments – This position requires written proposed amendment(s) to be sent to sponsor(s). Amendments may occur in conjunction with support or oppose positions. NJPA’s government affairs agent may lobby if necessary.

4. Monitor - Bill remains in the NJPA bill report. COLA will be advised by the NJPA government affairs agent of any significant movement in case amendments are proposed which may change our position.

5. Oppose – This position may require a letter from NJPA indicating our opposition. Limited resources committed to effort. NJPA’s government affairs agent may lobby if necessary.

6. Actively Oppose – This position requires the full resources of NJPA in opposition of a bill, including, financial support, grassroots activation, preparing testimony to present at legislative hearings. NJPA’s government affairs agent shall actively lobby sponsor(s), committees, legislature, and the governor’s office.

7. No Position - Bill has no significant impact on psychology and is carried in the NJPA bill report for historical purposes only.

Update to the NJPA Committee on Legislative Affairs Policies and Procedures 

I. COLA Confidentiality Agreement
There will be distribution of bills and COLA agenda before COLA meetings to the board (including the affiliate representatives and Affiliate Caucus chair) and members to encourage input.  Use of NJPA LISTSERV - NJPA members may discuss New Jersey legislative bills on the NJPA LISTSERV, as an individual NJPA members, as long as they follow Rule 3 of the LISTSERV Terms of Use (Expression of Personal Opinions on Political and Social Issues). Confidentiality of advocacy strategic planning still remains.

II. COLA Operations Manual – Co-Chairs and Bill Position Approval 
COLA will now be governed by two chairs. The general co-chair will sets agenda and runs the COLA meetings. The NJPA president-elect co-chair reports out from meetings to board and membership. Both chairs, plus the NJPA executive director and government affairs agent, will work on organizing bills for review each month.

New for 2020 - The NJPA Executive Board will be the body that approves NJPA bill positions based on COLA recommendations and rational statements. The co-chairs will decide on which if any motions should be recommended to the board.

III. Cross Pollination and Collaboration
COLA will explore cross pollination with other NJPA committees, NJPA Foundation, and affiliates to consider regulatory/legislative cross over efforts.  This Q2, COLA has worked with the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (CODI) on review of an implicit bias bill.

New for 2020 - COLA, like all NJPA committees, will present to the NJPA Executive Board a collaboration agreement form submission for any suggested COLA collaborations with outside groups.

IV.  Member Communication and Engagement 
COLA has goals to develop the NJPA Advocacy website real estate, develop manners in which NJPA trains members in advocacy, develop the manner in which members can reach out to COLA, and how flagged items are addressed. This Q2, COLA has worked with NJPA members Drs. Phyllis Bolling and Neuza (Maria) Serra on reviewing higher education/college counseling legislation. 

How to reach out to COLA
To notify NJPA about an advocacy topic, please use the NJPA Member Advocacy website page (login required) to submit a comment for COLA's review.

Grassroots Efforts - September 25, 2020 Access to Care and Maternal Health Disparities across the New Jersey Landscape

NJPA and Montclair State University hosted a successful program on Access to Care and Maternal Health Disparities across the New Jersey Landscape.

Thank you to presenters Angela Clack, PsyD, LPC; Cynthia Lischick, PhD; Director and Professor, Department of Teaching and Learning, Gerard Costa, PhD, IMHM-E-C. MSU, Center for Autism and Early Childhood Mental Health; and Jill Wodnick, MA, LCCE,  IMH-E®(II), MSU, Center for Autism and Early Childhood Mental Health, Giving Birth & Being Born Initiative on Improving Maternal Health. Thank you to our guest participants: Assistant Commissioner of Family Health Services, Lisa Asare, Assemblywoman Shanique Speight, and Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake

This workshop focused on the impact of trauma on mother’s help seeking behaviors and psychological strategies to support maternal and infant mental health with a focus on women of color; healthcare professional’s evaluation of domestic violence and coercive control; and strategies to intervene and interrupt the process and issues specific to women of color. The participants learned about the specific barriers that women of color face when seeking assistance in the face of domestic violence. The afternoon was dedicated to a panel discussion covering the complex factors that influence physical health and mental health disparities in women of color, childbirth education, doula care and family engagement, as a critical tool in improving maternal health and maternal-child health inequities in access and quality of care, in New Jersey and the United States, including the presence of implicit bias in care and education systems.                                           

Working together with the American Psychological Association - Strengthening federal support for psychology students and trainees during COVID-19

Congressman Payne was added as a cosponsor for H.R. 6720, the Student Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Health Workers Act, after meeting with NJPAGS representatives, Chelsea Torres, Dominique Reminick, Alex Gil, and Kristine Kroot, and NJPA leadership in a virtual Capitol Hill visit! Our visits with Senator Cory Booker, Senator Robert Menendez, and Representative Donald Payne’s offices were scheduled to address the need to strengthen federal support for psychology students and trainees during COVID-19 by: cosponsoring and passing H.R. 7761, the Protecting Access to Loan Forgiveness for Public Servants During the COVID-19 Pandemic Act; cosponsoring and passing H.R. 6720, the Student Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Health Workers Act; and cosponsoring and passing H.R.7449/S. 4141, the Bank on Students Coronavirus Emergency Loan Refinancing Act.  

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