Texas Psychological Association

By: Emily G. Sutter

Type: General Entry

Published: August 1, 1995

The Texas Psychological Association was founded on September 28, 1947, when its first slate of officers met. A constitution was drafted and adopted by the membership at the first annual meeting in February 1948. The TPA's declared purpose is to advance psychology as a science and as a means of promoting human welfare. Soon after its inception the TPA became a state affiliate of the American Psychological Association; hence its membership requirements reflect those of the national organization. Membership includes all specialties of psychology, though since the mid-1960s clinical and counseling psychology has had the strongest representation in the organization. Full members must have a doctoral degree in psychology, and associate memberships are available for those with master's degrees in the profession. Psychology students may join as nonvoting affiliates. The TPA has divisions focusing on various aspects of the discipline, including applied psychology, school psychology, and trainers of psychologists. A fourth division exists for the organization's associate members. Funding for the association comes from members' dues. In December 1964 the TPA was incorporated. It is governed by an elected executive committee. The sixty original members of the TPA were interested in sharing scientific information through scholarly research and presentations at annual association meetings. By the early 1960s the emphasis was shifting to such professional practice aspects of the discipline as licensure, education of practitioners, and applications of psychological knowledge in direct human services. This shift was reflected in the election of officials: the experimental psychologists from university faculties who dominated the first decade of TPA's history were replaced by practicing psychologists with backgrounds in mental-health clinics or private practice. By 1976 TPA made the decision to offer affiliation to local area societies for closer communication. When membership reached 2,000 in 1987, an executive director was hired, and the association rented office space in Austin. Membership in 1993 was 2,375. As its membership and staff expanded, TPA's influence with the legislature improved. In 1969 the legislative committee, under the leadership of Larry Smith of San Antonio, accomplished passage of a statewide certification and licensing law for the profession, the Psychologist's Certification and Licensing Act. The law, which established a six-member Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, took effect the following year and is still considered by most members as one of the TPA's most significant achievements. As a state agency the board operates completely independently of TPA, although substantial communication occurs between the two groups and many TPA officers have become board members. TPA sponsors educational meetings and workshops, a journal called Texas Psychologist, newsletters, and reports to the local area societies. Committees and task forces coordinated by the officers cover such areas as continuing education, public information, ethics, professional standards review, insurance, state agencies and organizations, and legislation. In the 1990s the association met annually in November, and the divisions often held annual meetings and workshops. Meetings rotate through the major cities in Texas.

Richard Cohen and Michael C. Gottlieb, "The First Licensed Psychologists in Texas," Texas Psychologist 38 (Spring 1986). Emily G. Sutter, "Sesquicentennial Series-TPA in Review: The Organization," Texas Psychologist 38 (1986). Emily G. Sutter, "Sesquicentennial Series-TPA in Review: The Presidents," Texas Psychologist 38 (Spring 1986). Texas Trade and Professional Organizations (Austin: University of Texas Bureau of Business Research, 1987). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


  • Health and Medicine
  • Organizations
  • Associations
  • Boards

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Emily G. Sutter, “Texas Psychological Association,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 24, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/texas-psychological-association.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 1, 1995

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: