New Mexico became the first state in the country to have an active law allowing psychologists the ability to prescribe psychotropic medications in 2002. With that being said, these psychologists were required to have postdoctoral training through many hours of coursework, patient practicum, and passing of the national certification exam allowing them this privilege. Throughout the years, more states have obtained this law such as Louisiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Idaho along with military and indian health services. This seems to be a trend and is to be expected to take place in many more states in the country.
There are many pros and cons when it comes to the question of whether psychologists should be allowed to prescribe medications to their patients. A pro in this case is that patients will see a decrease in the cost of treatment because they will only be seeking treatment from one provider rather than multiple. For example, in the past, one will see a psychologist for therapy while then having to see a psychiatrist or other health care provider for the prescriptions that they need. The fact that patients could consolidate with one single provider for their needs is definitely a plus.
Another pro of allowing psychologists the ability to prescribe medications for mental disorders is that it will open up a more wide range of mental health services. This is helpful in poorly-served or rural areas where psychiatrists are scarce and hard to come by. A benefit that comes along with being able to prescribe medication for your patients is also that psychologists have the ability to un-prescribe medications that they feel were unnecessary for their patient. This can help prevent over medication for issues that were thought to have been taken care of by a physician that was not specifically trained in the area of the mind or mental health.
For example, a child’s health care provider placing them on ADHD medications when they really just needed to have therapy sessions to work through underlying issues with the child and family. Although psychologists who are licensed to prescribe medications go through postdoctoral training and certification, a main con of psychologists having the ability to prescribe that I found is that it is believed that they do not have enough training to truly understand the human body. It is argued that psychologist do not know the true side effects and complications that come with the medications that they can prescribe such as drug interactions in patients with multiple medical conditions. Another con of psychologists having the ability to prescribe medication is that it will change the face of psychology itself and how people perceive psychology. People believe that treatment will lean more towards medication rather than true therapy and psychological work. It is possible that psychologist will lose the sense of giving therapy and start to rely more on prescribing medications for their patients as an easier alternative.