I attended a presentation about PSYPACT for the Minnesota Board of Psychology on Friday, May 17. Alex Segal, PhD, JD, presented on behalf of the PSYPACT parent organization, the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB). He is a psychologist and attorney, and is the Direct of Professional Affairs at ASPPB. He also was staff to the APA/ASPPB/The Trust (at that time, The Trust was APA’s medical malpractice organization) Joint Task Force on Telepsychology. PSYPACT is an “interstate compact.” This is a legal structure that was created by the US Constitution to allow states to negotiate form, legally binding understandings between them. Many compacts already exist, such a one that allows our driver’s license to be valid anywhere in the US. Another example is a compact that allows EMTs to cross state lines and legal provide services in emergencies.
He stated, “We (ASPPB) know that telepsychology across state lines is rampant,” and explained that one reason that PSYPACT was developed was to create structure for safely and legally doing this practice.
Also, there are potential complications for providing telepsychology across state lines that many telepsychology providers not be aware of. For example, it is common for states to have different “duty to warn” statues, and it is possible for a psychologist to be in a bind as to which state’s law must be followed when she is in one state and her patient/client is in another and is assessed as a danger to self, or others. Or, states may have different confidentiality statutes. For example, if a psychologist wants to talk to the parent of a client/patient , but the parent is in another state, how does he proceed? Dr. Segal explained that PSYPACT is designed to provide inter-state understandings about these, and many more, issues.
He reported that ASPPB decided to limit PSYPACT to doctoral psychologists in order to reduce resistance from states that only license doctoral psychologists – they may have opposed a compact that allowed master’s level psychologists from other states to practice in their state. Also, ASPPB decided to limit access to PSYPACT to psychologists with a totally clean history with their licensing board – with no history of discipline at all. He acknowledged that this will prevent some psychologists who made relatively minor mistakes in the past, or who learned from a more serious mistake, from accessing PSYPACT, but once again ASPPB decided that this was a compromise that would be necessary to gain endorsement from some states. He also noted that is the possibility that masters level psychologists and social workers may eventually have their own version of PSYPACT.
Since MHConcierge’s initial report on PSYPACT, another state, the 9th, has passed legislation endorsing PSYPACT. Dr. Segal reported that ABPPS is monitoring legislation in two other states that appears likely to pass soon, and he predicted that by the end of 2019 there may be as many as 15 states that have endorsed PSYPACT. As one of the MBOP members noted, “PSYPACT has momentum.”
Dr. Segal also reported that a representative of the Wisconsin Board of Psychology, after learning of his presentation for MBOP, contacted him to request a presentation for Wisconsin. This brings up the interesting possibility of MN and WI joining PSYPACT, which would enable us to (legally) provide telepsychology to our patients/clients who have summer homes in WI, or who live in Western WI.
PSYPACT also provides for limited in-person services, but most of the discussion was about telepsychology.
The Board members asked some tough questions, doing appropriate due diligence, I believe. No one on the Board seemed clearly hostile to PSYPACT – as far as I could tell, anyhow. None expressed concern about the safety and benefits of telepsychology.
The Board allowed visitors to make a brief comment. Here is what I said: “PSYPACT has been highly vetted, and I think it is good for psychology.” If you would like to comment on PSYPACT, here is the Board’s email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is a link to an APA presentation on Telepyschology and PSYPACT. it is from 2017, so it is dated in some ways. It does, I think, provide a concise and understandable summary of basic info about PSYPACT.
The slides include a “call to action” for APA members who want to support PSYPACT: