The American Association of Psychiatric Technicians (AAPT) is a nonprofit organization that administers a voluntary national certification examination to test knowledge of psychiatric technology.
AAPT uses the term “Psychiatric Technician” to include a variety of employees with bachelors degrees or less who are providing direct care to individuals with mental illnesses and/or developmental disabilities. Some examples of job titles are words such as psychiatric, mental health or behavioral health followed by technician, aide, worker, counselor, assistant or associate.
Certification is an important process in the 46 states (and the armed forces) that do not have a licensure requirement that regulates the qualifications and scope of practice of Psychiatric Technicians. (The states that license Psychiatric Technicians are California, Arkansas, Kansas and Colorado. AAPT’s National Certification does NOT allow an individual to practice as a Psychiatric Technician in these states.)
Voluntary certification is a way for unlicensed Psychiatric Technicians to gain recognition as para-professionals, with the legitimate right to participate as members of mental health treatment teams.
National Certification allows individuals to put the initials NCPT after their names, standing for Nationally Certified Psychiatric Technician. In some cases, NCPTs receive better pay and promotional opportunities. And in some instances, employers require National Certification.
COMMENTS FROM THE JOINT COMMISSION
The Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) maintains standards for healthcare facilities that include ensuring the competence of all levels of employees.
When AAPT submitted our national certification information for review by JCAHO, we received the following response from JCAHO’s Associate Director, Department of Standards, Interpretation Unit:
“Although the Joint Commission does not routinely review documents submitted by organizations for the purpose of consultation, critique or approval, I would like to share some observations. My impression is that the documents relating to your program and how they compare to Joint Commission standards are, in most respects, consistent with the intent of the standards.”