Psychopharmacology: The case for prescribing psychologists in South Africa

Joachim Fana Lance Mureriwa*, Antonio George Lentoor, Thabiso Rapapali, Maud Bopape, Azeeza Rawat

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In South Africa, clinical psychologists conduct psychological assessments and psychotherapy, but they do not prescribe medications. Psychiatrists prescribe and can conduct psychotherapy. The general and specialist medical practitioners prescribe psychotropic medications but refer patients to psychiatrists for specialist management. Nurse Practitioners are not allowed to initiate prescriptions, but they can repeat them. This paper provides evidence that it is desirable, and feasible, to train psychologists to
prescribe safely and effectively. Prescribing psychologists have high-level training in both psychotherapy and psychopharmacology. For this reason, they are better placed than non-prescribing psychologists or psychiatrists to provide integrated and versatile mental health interventions at reduced costs. Prescriptive Authority promote the
professional independence of psychologists. The Task Team of the Pharmacology Association for South African Clinical Psychologists recommends an expansion of the scope of practice for the psychology profession. The expansion would enable specialist psychologist registration, under various categories, amongst them prescribing, clinical, educational, industrial, neuropsychology, and others. The Task Team recommends that the Undergraduate and Honours degrees should be combined into a 4–5-year degree, leading to professional registration as a General Practice Psychologist. This degree would cover the current course content of Psych I, II, and III; basic medical sciences including anatomy and physiology; and the applied courses currently on the Honours degrees, such as psychometry and counselling. The General Practice Psychologists would practice in all areas of psychology, at a non-specialist level.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Advances in Neurology and Neurological Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Psychopharmacology
  • Prescriptive Authority
  • Psychologists
  • Psychotherapy
  • Psychotropic Medication
  • Mental Health


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