Technology is changing the game when it comes to mental health care. We were already experimenting with virtual therapy options, and when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, telehealth became the norm. Licensing regulations, however, did not keep up with these trends. People probably thought, “Oh, cool, does this mean now I can see the U.S. leading expert in OCD who lives in California?”. Unfortunately, mental health licensure is specific to a state, meaning that even if we have a virtual practice, we can only see patients physically located in the state where we are licensed. (And, yes, that means if you’re on vacation, you can’t just log in to therapy per usual.) Fortunately, some new legislation called PSYPACT is facilitating greater access to out-of-state therapists.
What is PSYPACT?
The Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT) allows psychologists to see patients who are located out-of-state, as long as they comply with all guidelines. Yes, this only applies to psychologists (Ph.D., Psy.D.) and not master’s level therapists (who are working toward their own legislation – our licenses are actually different).
The states/regions included are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia (DC), Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
If you see your state on here, congratulations! If not, unfortunately, you cannot see a psychologist located out of your state (but please advocate for your state to adopt PSYPACT!). Have hope, because new states are being added over time.
What are the pros of PSYPACT?
As I’ve discussed in other posts, depending on your (or your child’s) diagnosis, it may be helpful to work with a specialty mental health provider. Well, depending on where you live, there might be no specialists within driving distance or full waitlists for every psychologist you call. Potentially you’re leaving for college out-of-state or you travel frequently for work. Maybe you’re a mental health provider yourself and you don’t want to work with someone you know outside of the therapy space. Maybe you’ve seen a psychology researcher or social media maven you’d just really love to work with, and now that’s an option! This also allows you to join a therapy group with people from other areas. PSYPACT expands access to quality care and greater provider (therapist) choice.
Who is not appropriate for PSYPACT?
No one is necessarily inappropriate for PSYPACT, but someone might just not be a great fit for virtual therapy. For example, a young child may not benefit much from a more talk-heavy therapy over video. (Of course, more parent-focused work could be really beneficial virtually!) Someone who is having serious safety concerns, such as wanting to hurt themselves, would benefit more from in-person care. Someone who is not particularly tech savvy might feel frustrated by virtual-only therapy. [This is not an exhaustive list. If you consult with a psychologist, they can give you guidance on whether your case is a good fit for virtual therapy.]
It also just might depend on your current therapy goals. You might overall be a great fit for virtual therapy, but you’re currently wanting to work on your phobia of driving. Although that’s not impossible virtually, you might find it easier to work on that concern in person. So virtual therapy can be a fluid thing.
My two cents: I think it can be nice to find a “home base” therapist, who is maybe local or not, and then always be prepared to switch providers at certain times, if you ever need to work on something that is outside of your therapist’s scope of practice. So, PSYPACT could be helpful for you long-term or just as a short-term fix.
TLDR: PSYPACT is a great option for seeing an out-of-state expert for therapy, if that’s best for your current needs.
I now have PSYPACT authorization and look forward to serving patients who may not be able to find a specialist in their area! Find out if a provider has PSYPACT authorization here.
This blog was last updated in June 2023.