Can California Psychologists Prescribe?
California psychologists cannot legally prescribe medication. This prohibition is established in Section 2904 of the California Business and Professions Code.
Often, consumers seeking mental health services are taking medications or suffering from conditions that could be treated very successfully by medications prescribed by a physician. Psychologists are often the first mental health care providers assessing and treating such consumers. Indeed, many psychologists have extensive training and experience in the applications of medications. Psychologists may discuss medications with a patient. A psychologist may suggest to a physician a particular medication to be prescribed by a physician. However, the ultimate decision as to whether a patient should receive medication lies solely with the physician. A psychologist may engage in a collegial discussion with a patient's physician regarding the appropriateness of a medication for the condition being treated. A psychologist has primary responsibility to monitor the patient's progress in psychotherapy which includes assisting in monitoring the changes which may be attributable to the medication in the patient. Psychologists should maintain a close consultative relationship with physician care givers in order to assure appropriate overall treatment of the patient.
There are many psychological conditions which manifest themselves in physical symptoms. There are physical problems which have psychological symptoms as well. The best interests of the patient demand that psychologists work closely with primary care physicians and psychiatrists who are prescribing medications to the patient of the psychologist. While a psychologist's responsibility can include involvement in limited aspects of a patient's medications, the patient's physician is the only person who may lawfully prescribe the medication for the patient.