Prescriptive Authority Task Force

2009-2010 Committee


Chair Lorne Sexton, CPA
Craig Turner, CRHSPP
Rose-Marie Charest, ACPRO
Meghan Richards, CPA Student Section
Don Saklofske, CCPPP
Kerry Mothersill, CPA Clinical Section
David Nussbaum, CPA Psychopharmacology Section
Mary Broga, CPAP
JoAnn Leavey, CPA Rural and Northern Section
Kim Lavoie, CPA Health Psychology


In September 2008, in response to growing interest in the prescriptive authority issue, CPA initiated a Prescriptive Authority (RxP) Task Force.

Terms of Reference


To review all related issues and develop a statement for the CPA Board of Directors


  1. CPA Sections
    • Clinical Psychology
    • Psychopharmacology
    • Rural and Northern Psychology
    • Students in Psychology
    • Health Psychology
    • Up to three other Section representatives from Brain and Behaviour, Adult Development and Aging, and/or Clinical Neuropsychology
  2. CPAP
  3. ACPRO
  4. CCPPP

The most important consideration is of a representative process which can assist the Task Force in dispassionately examining the issues in order to develop an integrative statement to present to the CPA Board of Directors.

Rationale and Mandate

At least one (Ontario) has started to develop advocacy plans for obtaining such authority. In the absence of material from Canadian Psychological Association, they will have to rely on material from the American Psychological Association.

In the United States, the American Psychological Association and state associations of psychologists have been advocating for prescriptive authority for psychologists. The American Psychological Association’s official position, as stated on their website, is:

“APA supports the efforts of state and provincial psychological associations and individual psychologists as they pursue the right of appropriately trained psychologists to prescribe psychoactive medications. Prescriptive authority for psychologists is a legislative, regulatory, and educational issue impacting the scope of practice of licensed psychologists.” (Boldface added for emphasis)

There are currently (2008) two states where psychologists have been granted prescriptive authority: New Mexico (2002); Louisiana (2004). In 2007 nine legislative attempts by state associations failed (National Psychologist, Sept/Oct 2007). It should be noted that support for this issue in the USA is mixed and there is continuing controversy regarding the appropriateness of seeking prescription privilege. The issue of prescriptive authority in the United States has also resulted in increased tensions between psychology and medicine, particularly psychiatry.

Up until this point in time, the Canadian Psychological Association has not developed a formal position statement on prescription privileges for psychologists. The training models for the profession, although similar in many ways, are different in the United States and Canada. Thus, the training models for the United States for prescriptive authority for psychologists may not be completely transferable to a Canadian education and training context. Issues around prescriptive authority involve clinical practice, provincial regulation, and education/training.

The CPA Board of directors thus commissions the Task Force to consider the relevant professional literature and diversity of opinion towards advising the Board as to the following issues regarding prescription privilege for psychologists:

  • wisdom of the moving the profession in this direction: assessment of reasons for and against
  • priority of prescription privilege as an advocacy issue
  • implications for training in graduate programs
  • adequacy of APA post-doctoral training model
  • certification and regulatory issues
  • other relevant issues as raised by Task Force membership


View the CPA Task Force on Prescriptive Authority for Psychologists in Canada report. See the Winter 2010 Issue of Psynopsis for a summary of the interim progress report.

The task force’s final report should be completed in 2010.