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Division V
Division of Clinical Psychopharmacology

Our Mission
Expanded Access to Comprehensive Mental Health Care through prescriptive authority for psychologists, education, and development of standards of professional competence in psychopharmacology for California psychologists.

The Board of Division V invites you to use the materials found under the tab "Resources for Psychologists" to improve your professional competence in psychopharmacology.  Although some materials are available to all CPA members, others are restricted to Division V members only.  (Feel free to ask any member of our board for additional materials you may find useful!)

By joining Division V, you can make a difference in helping to expand safe access to comprehensive mental health care for all Californians and by helping to move the mission of prescriptive authority forward.  We welcome our new members!  Click here to join now.

Our Purposes and Objectives

  • Expand access to comprehensive mental health care for Californians.
  • Obtain and maintain prescriptive authority for properly trained psychologists in CPA and throughout the State of California.
  • Encourage the dissemination of information within the field of psychology regarding pharmacotherapy and related therapies; to discuss problems of common interest, and to foster friendship and collaboration among psychologists. 
  • Assist in maintaining a high level of professional competence among practicing psychologists through on-going training programs, and by consulting with colleges and universities in the development of clinical psychopharmacology curricula. 
  • Work with CPA's legislative team in consultation with the State Legislature and the Board of Psychology regarding prescriptive authority, the training of psychologists in clinical psychopharmacology, the scope of practice of psychologists trained in clinical psychopharmacology and safe patient care. 
  • Collaborate with other Divisions and Chapters of CPA to further the interests in clinical psychopharmacology.

Prescriptive Authority for California Psychologists

The most important goal of Division V is to obtain prescriptive authority (RxP) for appropriately trained California psychologists who want to add this skill to their therapeutic armamentarium and therefore, to expand access to care.  There are many forces fighting against us in this state, and it will require many hours and many, many, MANY dollars to accomplish this goal.  You can help by making a donation to the California RxP Fund, which is a fund set up exclusively for helping to bring prescriptive authority legislation to California.  Click here to donate
History of the RxP Movement:  It has been almost thirty-five years since the first legislation to "study the feasibility" of prescriptive authority for psychologists was presented to a state lawmaking body.  This happened in Hawaii in 1985.  the first two states to approve prescriptive authority to psychologists were Louisiana and New Mexico (Fox, DeLeon, Newman, Sammons, Dunivin, & Backer (2009).  As of 22020, five states including Louisiana, New Mexico, Illinois, Iowa and Idaho have passed legislation that expanded the scope of practice for specially trained licensed psychologists to prescribe certain types of medication.  Psychologists can also prescribe in the military, Indian Health Services, and in Guam. 

In 1996 APA first approved training guidelines and model curriculum for advanced training in clinical psychopharmacology (APA, 1996).  Those guidelines were revised in 2009 (APA, 2009).  In 2019, as required by APA each 10 years, the APA approved revised curriculum requirements for designated training programs in clinical Psychopharmacology.  At the same time it developed and approved model legislative recommendations for states considering legislation for psychologists to obtain prescriptive authority (APA, 2019).  An APA specialty petition for Psychopharmacology has now passed committee review and will be considered by the Council of Representatives and Board in 2020.

Division V has worked closely with senior leadership within CPA to create the infrastructure and raise the money necessary to develop a legialative campaign for psychologists to gain prescriptive authority in California.   One can never count one's legislative votes before they are garnered, but those who have been watching the politics of prescriptive authority for psychologists feel the time is ripe at last.  In a manner that parallels the significant need for training psychologists in the 1960s and 1970s when there was a dire shortage of doctoral level mental health professionals, the new decade beginning in 2020 has started with an equally dire need to train psychologists to prescribe because of the significant shortage of psychiatrists in our state.  This shortage is particularly severe for certain groups of consumers including the poor, children, elderly and rural residents.  Appropriately trained psychologists could fill the gaps in the mental health care shortage by doing what they know how to do safely.

Medical doctors are able to write prescriptions for psychological diagnoses. Why shouldn't properly trained psychologists be able to prescribe drugs?  In states and other areas whee psychologists have been prescribing for over 20 years our outcomes are comparable to those of our physician colleagues and other prescribers.

Current California Scope of Practice: The scope of practice for California psychologists includes "Appropriate collaboration or consultation with physicians or other prescribers to include the assessment of the need for additional treatment that may include medication or other medical evaluation and treatment and the patient's mental capacity to consent to additional treatment to enhance both the physical and the mental status of the persons being treated."  (  This means that a psychologist may discuss medication with a prescriber for a patient that both health care professionals are treating.   Depending on the psychologist's level of expertise in psychopharmacology and the prescriber's request for details, specific medications and dosages may be recommended to the prescriber.  In consulting on medications, as in all things, the Ethics Code forbids psychologists to practice outside of the boundaries of their competence.  Division V, through its offering of psychopharmacology workshops and conferences, is dedicated to being a resource to all of California's licensed psychologists.


American Psychological Association (1996).  Recommended Postdoctoral Training in Psychopharmacology for Prescription Privileges.  Washington, D.C.: Author.

American Psychological Association (2009).  Recommended Postdoctoral Education and Training in Psychopharmacology for Prescription Authority.  Washington, D.C.: Author.

American Psychological Association (2017). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct of the American Psychological Association.  Washington, D.C.: Author.

American Psychological Association (2019). Model Education and Training Program in Psychopharmacology for Prescriptive Authority. Washington, D.C.: Author.

Fox, R.E, DeLeon, P.H., Newman, R., Sammons, M.T., Dunivin, D.L., Backer, D.C (2009).  Prescriptive authority and psychology: A status report.  American Psychologist, 64(4), 257-268.




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