Movement for Interstate Psychology Practice Advances

By Kenneth P. Drude, Ph.D.
May 5, 2015

Prospects for interstate psychology practice significantly improved in February when the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Board (ASPPB) finalized an interjurisdictional compact, known as the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT).

The ASPPB, an organization representing all of the psychology licensing boards in the United States and Canada, last year presented a draft compact for public comment. The finalized version incorporated some minor changes in response to feedback received. The PSYPACT is intended to facilitate both interstate telepsychology and temporary in-person practice of psychology. (The draft had only focused on interstate telepsychology and did not include a temporary in-person practice provision.)

States that adopt the PSYPACT by passing the necessary legislation, will establish a legal mechanism for psychologists licensed in one state to practice in another state via telecommunications. State psychology licensing boards now typically require independent licensure in each state for the practice of telepsychology. Most state psychology boards, however, do have provisions for temporary in-person practice of psychology for varying periods of time, without having a separate license. The PSYPACT standardizes the necessary qualifications of psychologists for permitting temporary practice among compact member states.

The psychology compact is similar to other interstate compacts in creating a commission composed of representatives of the member states that will have the responsibility of implementing the interstate agreement and developing the procedures and rules to do so.

Rather than the compact being a licensing board-to-licensing board agreement, the compact forms a state-to-state legal contract. Legislation must be passed in each state legislature in order to become a party to the compact. A minimum of seven states will have to adopt the PSYPACT in order for it to be activated and for the compact commission to be formed.

ASPPB is working with the Council of State Governments to develop resource documents that can be used in advocating and supporting legislative efforts for states to join the compact. Further plans for garnering professional (including licensing boards and professional organizations) and legislative support for the PSYPACT has not yet been announced.

The PSYPACT was developed by the ASPPB Telepsychology Task Force over several years and in response to input from psychology licensing boards and other stakeholders. The document  can be found at the ASPPB website.

Other healthcare professionals are  working to create interstate compacts. The Federation of State Medical Boards has a compact that a number of states are actively pursuing legislative action to adopt.

That compact, although streamlining the licensure process across states, continues to require physicians to be licensed in each state in which they provide services. Another health profession, physical therapists, also is in the process of working to get an interstate compact. Information about that compact being developed by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) can be found on the FSBPT website.

Twenty-four states are members of the Nurse Licensure Compact that regulates the interstate practice of nursing that was created almost 15 years ago. Although there may be interest among some counselors and social workers for compacts to facilitate interstate practices, there is no national effort to develop them.

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