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Psychologists Still Seek Prescription Privileges: No New News

Psychologists Still Seek Prescription Privileges: No New NewsThis story caught my eye only because of its headline, Psychologists seek authority to prescribe psychotropic medications. Really? I thought… I never heard that before.

Oh, wait a minute, I have. Because the last time I checked, psychologists have been seeking prescription privileges for something like 16 or 17 years, maybe longer. In all of that time, they’ve only gained them in two states.

Was another state joining New Mexico and Louisiana? Was there a renewed push for this service because of a sudden demand for prescriptions from those who have a mental illness?

In other words, for this new article that appeared in the Washington Post (but was actually written by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a healthcare policy organization) — what’s newsworthy about this story?

After reading through the story twice, I couldn’t find a single thing.

In any story about psychologists wanting to expand their professional scope to suddenly include the practice of medicine, you can bet on a few things the author has to be sure to include:

  • The “successes” psychologists have had with gaining prescription privileges in 2 states (often with no context for how many times psychologists have tried in other states, but failed)
  • A spokesperson for the American Psychological Association noting how this is an “access” issue (but with no actual scientific data to back up the assertion; instead anecdotal data is used)
  • A note about the widespread prevalence of mental illness rates in America, to make it appear that there’s huge pent-up demand for services (simply untrue)
  • No serious analysis of the logical fallacy conducted that leaves otherwise thoughtful professionals to conclude that psychologists would never succumb to the same market pressures that pushed psychiatry out of psychotherapy and primarily into writing prescriptions (e.g., it pays better to write more prescriptions than it does to conduct psychotherapy)
  • The obligatory objection statement, usually coming from a spokesperson from a psychiatry group, the AMA, or, in this case, NAMI
  • No actual update on where exactly the psychologists are this year in the battle to win prescription privileges in more states, other than noting it is “winding its way through” a half dozen state legislatures (again, with no mention this happens every year and every year it is rejected)

As you probably know, I reject the argument that psychologists need a special law passed in each state to suggest their professional training makes them a unique class of citizens that can undergo a specialized training program for prescribing psychiatric medications. Psychologists have always had multiple routes open to them to gain prescription privileges — get an MD, or become a physician’s assistant or some other health care professional who has limited prescribing privileges.

Psych Central is against this ridiculous attempt of psychologists to expand their scope of practice into areas that they simply were not trained to do. Being experts in human behavior doesn’t mean you’re a good professional to be understanding the complex interactions that psychiatric medications have with dozens of different non-psychiatric medications and hundreds of medical conditions. That’s why we have physicians.

If there are too few psychiatrists, the solution is far simpler and less expensive — create whatever incentive is necessary to encourage more new doctors to specialize in psychiatry. The solution is not for one profession to try and impinge on another profession’s area of expertise and services.

Read the article: Psychologists seek authority to prescribe psychotropic medications

Psychologists Still Seek Prescription Privileges: No New News

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Dr. John Grohol is the founder of Psych Central. He is a psychologist, author, researcher, and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 1995. Dr. Grohol has a Master's degree and doctorate in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member of the Society for Participatory Medicine. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here.

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APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2018). Psychologists Still Seek Prescription Privileges: No New News. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 21 Mar 2011)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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