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Scope of Practice and Competence

Updated: Mar 2

A practitioner's scope of practice defines the services they may legally provide under their license or supervisor's license under state law. Graphic © dizain/

Scope graphic

Listen to Dr. Donald Moss explain the scope of practice © Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback.

Providers comply with applicable laws and the ethical standards of their profession and certifying organization. They require a government license or credential to treat a medical or psychological disorder independently. Those without a license or credential must obtain appropriate supervision to treat these disorders. BCIA certifies licensed practitioners to treat diagnosed disorders, technicians to treat diagnosed disorders under supervision, and non-licensed practitioners to apply biofeedback for relaxation, stress management, or optimal performance (Moss, 2020). For example, psychologists may not make nutritional recommendations in most states, and health coaches may not diagnose or treat medical or psychological disorders (Moss, 2013). Although BCIA certifies technicians to practice under supervision, their scope of practice is defined by their supervisor's scope of practice (Moss, 2020).

Scope of practice is the largest elephant in the room. Until they face complaints, licensed practitioners rarely read the statutes that regulate their scope of practice and professional responsibilities (Hopkins, 2013). Unlicensed certificants may not understand how the scope of practice applies to their activities or their supervisor's license limitations. Without an appropriate license, they may not even legally purchase FDA-regulated devices like electrocephalographs. Graphic © Aleksandr_Kuzmin/

Elephant in the room

Summary Whether practitioners are licensed or unlicensed, they must comply with relevant state statutes or risk prosecution. Professionals should understand their own or supervisor's scope of practice and respect these guard rails. Learn More

References Hopkins, B. (2013). Legal aspects of counseling: What you don't know might hurt you. Workshop presented at the Biofeedback Society of Texas conference, Austin, Texas. Moss, D. (2013). Professional conduct in biofeedback and neurofeedback. Workshop presented at the International Society for Neurofeedback and Research conference, Dallas, Texas. Moss, D. (2020). Professional conduct in biofeedback and neurofeedback. BCIA Webinar. presented to BCIA.

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