Multiple factors can prevent a specific patient from seeing a specific therapist. Their respective locations is one such factor. Until recently, a patient could only see therapists who received licenses to practice in their state.
The Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact, or PSYPACT, is changing that. Keep reading to learn more. This overview explains what PSYPACT is and how it’s helpful for therapists and their clients.
What is PSYPACT?
PSYPACT offers a range of potential benefits to both therapists and their patients. Specifically, PSYPACT allows participating therapists to treat their clients across state lines (in states and jursidictions which participate in the compact) via telehealth appointments.
Traditionally, psychologists and other such professionals have only been able to practice in the states or territories in which their licenses were issued. This has naturally resulted in such difficulties as:
- Therapists being unable to treat patients who might benefit from their services but who live in other states
- Patients no longer being able to see therapists with whom they’ve grown comfortable after moving
- Therapists having limited options from which to choose when referring clients to other therapists (as they could only refer them to therapists licensed to practice in a patient’s state)
Those are just a few examples of the types of barriers PSYPACT can theoretically break down. In participating states and jurisdictions, therapists who have joined PSYPACT can offer their services across state lines via temporary face-to-face treatment.
Along with allowing patients to seek treatment from therapists in other states or to continue receiving treatment from therapists they currently see after moving elsewhere, because PSYPACT also allows therapists to offer telehealth services, it’s helpful for those with limited mobility. Patients who might struggle to regularly attend in-person therapy appointments can now receive treatment from the comfort of their own homes. This may also be helpful if a patient lives very far away from their preferred therapist, regardless of mobility issues.
Which States Participate in PSYPACT?
Along with the benefits listed above, it’s worth noting that when a therapist gets a PSYPACT number, they can offer their services in any of the states that currently participate in this program.
As of this writing, the following states participate in PSYPACT:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- North Carolina
- West Virginia
Additionally, PSYPACT legislation has been enacted in Connecticut, and is slated to become effective in October 2022. PSYPACT legislation has been enacted but technically remains under further review in South Carolina and Rhode Island. In Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, PSYPACT legislation has been introduced but has not yet been enacted.
How the COVID-19 Pandemic Fueled PSYPACT’s Growth
Numerous states have enacted PSYPACT legislation fairly quickly due to the many advantages it offers. However, as a report from the American Psychological Association points out, the COVID-19 pandemic may have played some role in helping PSYPACT grow as rapidly as it has.
During the pandemic, individuals relocated for many reasons. Some wealthy residents of large cities where the virus was spreading moved to second homes in more isolated areas to avoid infection. College students who no longer needed to attend class in-person may have moved back home with their families, as there were no practical or social reasons to continue living on or near campus during the worst days of the pandemic.
Those are just two examples. In some instances, relocating meant moving to another state. This could have potentially interrupted a patient’s therapy during a stressful time when they may have needed it most. Thanks to PSYPACT, however, many were able to relocate to other states while continuing to see their preferred therapists.
How Can a Therapist Participate in PSYPACT?
The process of joining PSYPACT involves several steps. A therapist interested in joining should refer to the official website to ensure they fully understand all the relevant details and requirements. That said, the general steps of the PSYPACT application and authorization process are as follows:
- Apply for an E.Passport Certificate from the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards
- Upon receiving E.Passport approval, apply to the PSYPACT Commission for an Authority to Practice Interjurisdictional Telepsychology
- Receive official APIT authorization document in an email
Naturally, you can only receive PSYPACT authorization to practice in PSYPACT participating states. If you wish to practice in a state that has not yet enacted PSYPACT legislation, monitor the map on PSYPACT’s website to learn if and when circumstances change.
PSYPACT is Changing Therapy for the Better
Although no one can predict the future, if trends continue as they have, there’s good reason to suspect PSYPACT’s reach will expand. This will yield positive developments for therapists and patients, ensuring limitations such as geography don’t get in the way of treatment.