So far this year, 11 jurisdictions—Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia—have joined the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (Psypact). Psypact is an agreement allowing psychologists in participating jurisdictions to practice across state lines, whether via telepsychology or temporary in-person practice.
Of the 26 states participating in the compact, 18 states have enacted Psypact legislation that has been formally adopted by the Psypact Commission, the compact’s governing body. Alabama, Kentucky, and Minnesota have enacted Psypact legislation, but, due to modifications made to the legislation, that legislation has not yet been formally adopted by the Psypact Commission. (The Commission is slated to meet in August 2021 to review legislation in these states.) New laws take effect later this summer for Arkansas, Ohio, and West Virginia. Maine’s law goes into effect in September. And Kansas’s law goes into effect in January, 2022.
“Psypact may get a few more states by the end of the legislative session,” said Psypact Executive Director Janet Orwig. Five other states—Iowa, New Jersey, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Vermont—introduced Psypact legislation this year. “And we’re hoping to continue this same kind of growth next year.”
A combination of factors has helped drive this growth in the number of participating states, said Orwig. For one, the COVID-19 pandemic caused many patients to relocate beyond the reach of their psychologists’ licenses at a time when mental health needs—whether new or ongoing—were soaring. Many college students returned to their hometowns to take classes virtually, for example, and some families retreated to second homes with more space in rural areas. Plus, said Orwig, legislators have become increasingly familiar not just with telehealth but with the idea of interjurisdictional compacts as other professions have started introducing legislation of their own. Occupational therapists, audiologists and speech therapists, counselors, and teachers are working on compacts, too.