Can a Psychologist Prescribe Medication?

Can a Psychologist Prescribe Medication – Overview

In most cases, psychologists cannot prescribe medications to their patients. However, recently, several states have been pushing to grant psychologists the privilege to do so. A few states allow psychologists to prescribe certain medications.

Where Can Psychologists Prescribe Medication

Psychologists can prescribe medication in the military and the Indian Health Service, provided they meet specific training and certification criteria, not limited to those certified in New Mexico or Louisiana. Besides this, psychologists can prescribe medications if they practice in Illinois, Idaho, and Iowa.

Professional psychologists first gained the privilege of prescribing medications in New Mexico in 2002 and Louisiana in 2004. In 2014, Louisiana became the third state in the United States to grant prescribing rights to psychologists with the appropriate training. 2016 Iowa granted prescriptive powers to psychologists, and Idaho followed suit in 2017.

In such instances, psychologists need to undergo special training and be permitted to prescribe only select medicines helpful in treating mental health disorders.

What Training Do Psychologists Need to Prescribe Medication

Can a Psychologist Prescribe Medication

Can a Psychologist Prescribe Medication – What Training Do Psychologists Need to Prescribe Medication

Different states have different sets of rules regarding the training a psychologist needs to undergo to prescribe medications to patients.

The training that psychologists need to undergo in different states to be able to prescribe medications to their patients:


In Louisiana, psychologists must complete a post-doctoral master’s degree in clinical psycho-pharmacology before passing a board-recognized national exam. They should also hold a certificate of responsibility from the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists.

New Mexico

In New Mexico, psychologists must undergo a minimum of 450 hours of didactic training and 400 hours of supervised practice in psycho-pharmacology.


In Illinois, psychologists need to undergo special training in psycho-pharmacology, just like in the other states. In addition, psychologists are also required to complete a supervised clinical rotation of at least 14 months and cover a variety of settings, such as hospitals, prisons, and mental healthcare clinics.


In Iowa, psychologists must complete a post-doctoral master’s degree in clinical psycho-pharmacology. In addition, psychologists should also have sufficient and relevant clinical experience in assessment and pathophysiology.


In Idaho, psychologists must get a post-doctoral master’s degree in clinical psycho-pharmacology. Still, the state does not dictate a specific hourly limit required for additional training before granting prescription powers to eligible psychologists.

Why Should Psychologists Have the Power to Prescribe Medication?

People supporting psychologists having prescriptive rights include the National Alliance of Professional Psychology Providers and Division 55 of the American Psychological Association. Supporters argue for psychologists’ prescriptive rights to enhance access to care, particularly in underserved areas, and to integrate psychological and pharmacological treatment approaches more effectively.

According to studies, around 30% of primary care physicians handle cases of people with psychiatric conditions. Primary care physicians are allowed to prescribe psychiatric care medication to around 70% of patients suffering from mental health problems. While primary care physicians may prescribe psychiatric medications, there is a concern about the depth of their training in mental health compared to their broader medical education.

Supporters suggest that more people would have better access to mental healthcare if psychologists could use other treatment strategies besides pharmacological interventions. They also state that giving psychologists prescriptive powers can increase accessibility to mental healthcare and allow patients to receive faster treatment.

It helps rural patients get psychological treatment more efficiently and decreases the overall wait time in many states that currently face a significant shortage of trained and certified psychologists. This effort can easily overcome the problem and difficulty patients often face when accessing mental health care services on time.

Why Should Psychologists Not Have the Power to Prescribe Medication

Several medical and psychiatric organizations oppose prescriptive rights for psychologists due to concerns over training adequacy in pharmacology and medical diagnosis. These include the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. This idea’s opponents state several reasons psychologists should have the power to prescribe medications.

Opponents argue against prescriptive rights for psychologists, citing reasons such as insufficient medical and pharmacological training, the potential for medication side effects, and the challenge of distinguishing psychiatric symptoms from underlying medical conditions.

Besides this, the opponents also state that many patients who are prescribed psychotropic medications usually have one or more coexisting medical conditions and that physicians are better trained to determine if and when medication is needed.


Currently, a limited number of states allow trained psychologists to prescribe medications, reflecting ongoing debates and evolving legislation on this issue across the US. However, other states are still on the fence regarding this topic but seem likely to consider allowing psychologists to prescribe medications to treat mental health disorders.

See Also

Can a Psychiatrist Prescribe Medications

Can You Prescribe for Yourself

Can Nurse Practitioners Prescribe

Can Chiropractors Write Prescriptions

Self Prescribing Laws

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