The controversy over whether psychologists should be allowed to have prescriptions privileges or not has been going on for awhile now. There are many arguments for both sides. Individual differences and opinions come into play here. Individuals who have made a name for themselves in the world of psychology, may have their opinions be more valued than others who are maybe not so well known. Psychology is a big field and psychologists work with many different types of professions which may have some influence. The issue of prescription privileges brings a big debate in whether the eward is bigger than the risk.
There are many benefits to giving prescription access to psychologists. Davis, & Tulkin, (2016), found that psychologists who were more in favour of gaining prescription privileges, were basing their decisions off of their strong, personal feelings about the care for individuals with mental health problems and the admiration they have for respected colleagues who were also in favour of prescription privileges. This is important to note because this means that psychologists who are at the fore front of this issue, are making decisions based on what is best for their clients.
They are showing that they really care about their clients and believe that prescribing medication when necessary for these individuals would be most beneficial for practicing psychologists and the clients in therapy. Giving psychologists the ability to gain prescription privileges, would be more beneficial because of their ability to delve into the clients feelings and emotions, and using this knowledge of the individual to their advantage in knowing which medication might work best for the client (Cole, 2002). The work the psychologist does with the client in sessions can be very valuable.
If the psychologist had the access to prescribing a medication that would help that clients progress in therapy and help manage their emotions and feelings effectively, then why not give the psychologists the option of having that quality. Therapy also consists of regular contact and visits between the client and the psychologist. LeVine, (2007), notes that it is important to make sure that you acquire lots of information about the client and to objectively assess their situation, in which you also have the ability not prescribe.
This ties in with these regular routine sessions which would provide insight into hat LeVine is talking about. The convenient access to checking in with the client, seeing how they’re doing, if the medication is helping, and being able to intervene immediately if the medication needs to be changed at all, compared to having to go through multiple doctors to have the medication changed in the first place.
The approval of the changes is going to be needing approval from everyone involved however, if the psychologist has access to this, then it would reduce wait times and appointments needed to do something that possibly cannot wait any longer to be changed. There are many other arguments n favour of psychologists being able to have prescription privileges not mentioned here. There are a number of papers on this topic and these are just some of the arguments for. However, with pros, comes the cons, in which there is also support for why psychologists should not be granted prescription privileges.
One of the problems about psychologists having access to prescribing medication for clients, is mentioned by Hayes & Heiby, (1996), that it could change the base model of which psychologists believe in and change psychology to be based around the medical model (as cited in Cole, 2002). Psychology believes in the biopsychosocial (BPS) model, and for this change to a strictly science, medical model, would be dangerous now as well as long term, according to the thoughts of DeNelsky, (1996).
This would interfere with many things in the future such as education, and lead people to believe that psychologists are turning into psychiatrists (DeNelsky, 1996). The public might believe that psychiatrists are there for a reason and it is known that they are a bit different from psychologists and they value that. DeNelsky, (1996), also discusses how this major change ight affect how these psychologists carry out their therapy and the effects of medication access through psychologists possibly being irreversible.
If these changes are thought of being irreversible it just adds to the risk and unlikelihood that psychologists will be granted such privileges. Another negative effect that could potentially happen would be that, if psychologists were granted access to prescribing medication and something happens to the client because of the medication, additional threats to the client’s health as well as ethical principles could be evident. Ethics would play a big role in his, where if psychologists were granted access, then there would be some changes to the Code of Conduct needed (Cole, 2002).
The Code of Conduct is a big professional document and for changes needed to be made to such a document, would require a lot of effort, work, and time so that the issue at hand is properly and appropriately integrated into the field. In addition to the ethics, some might believe that the training made available to psychologists if it were allowed for them to get prescription privileges, would be insufficient and actually could be harmful to the client (Cole, 2002). Minimal training for sychopharmacology would make some wonder if they are getting the best and enough training they need to carry this out well.
Education, when becoming a psychologist, is not something that can be easily changed either. DeNelsky, (1996), discusses his concern about this, where medication could eventually become so influential, that psychologists may end up learning more about medications, which would decrease the amount of time for learning psychological principles and theories. This would be problematic and decrease the value and quality in therapy. Prescription privileges might also change the relationship with ther professions that psychologists sometimes have to work with.
The connections and interactions with other jobs such as psychiatrists, doctors, social workers, and more, might also be disrupted and negatively affected more than they already are. Rae, Jensen-Doss, Bowden, Mendoza, & Banda, (2008), show this in their study, where child psychologists and pediatricians have different opinions on prescription privileges for psychologists, which suggests that the relationships are bound to change if psychologists were to get access to medications. There could be more disagreement which could create unnecessary conflict ffecting the professional individuals involved, as well as the client.
Also if other professions already prescribe these medications for the client, then by allowing psychologists in the mix too, might complicate things and might be an unnecessary add on which has the potential to do more harm than good. I believe that psychologists should have the ability to choose whether they want to acquire prescription privileges or not. I don’t think it would be necessary or fair to make it a mandatory thing, but for individuals who would want to pursue the extra knowledge and qualification, I agree that it should made vailable to those who want it.
The psychologist is the one who knows or gets to know what might be happening deep inside the individual. These clients may confide only in their psychologist and not really tell anyone else what is really going on. The rapport built in these relationships can have great impact, since the psychologist knows possibly more about the individual than anyone else, to a certain extent. This decision of whether or not the client should be on medication might be better in the hands of a psychologist. General doctors, do not have the vast knowledge about psychology and the disorders nvolved like psychologists do.
Doctors have minimal training in the field of psychology and its disorders so it seems like the doctor may not necessarily be the best person to be prescribing potentially strong, behaviour changing medication for this specific group of individuals who seek therapy from psychologists. Psychologists having prescription privileges would help benefit the profession. I agree with the majority of articles and papers reviewing this issue and the positive side to allowing psychologists to have prescription privileges.
I acknowledge the other side of the argument and value the oppositions reasoning, owever, in my opinion, I see more benefit in psychologists having prescription privileges. It is already happening a select number of states, such as New Mexico, where LeVine, (2007) discusses how beneficial prescription privileges are to psychologists there, and that the results from her case studies, such as having a patient go from 11 medications to 6, have been positive, shedding light on that it is possible for this to work in a favourable and integrated way.
I like that this is not just an idea anymore and is actually being implemented in a few areas. It would be important to check in frequently with these places here this is practiced and make sure it is on a good pathway to maximizing the clients wellbeing as well as staying true to the psychological principles. My opinion in favour for prescription privileges also falls in line with all the pros previously mentioned.
I understand that there may be consequences or negative effects if this were to be implemented, however there is always going to be a down side to things and for most counterarguments there are ways to deal with them that are effective and appropriate. I believe the field of psychology would be able to handle it and should go forth with it.