Via Mary Louise Serafine, Attorney at Law: some excellent news from our neighbours to the south.  A Texan law, similar to Ontario’s controlled act of psychotherapy, was recently struck down.


“The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued its judgment that the central part of the Texas psychology licensing law is unconstitutional because it violates freedom of speech,” Serafine said.

“The law defined the ‘practice of psychology’ too broadly.  I thought it was unconstitutional because it effectively banned giving advice about the whole of life.”

Serafine continued, “Many states have the same overbroad, unconstitutional law because the APA—the American Psychological Association—drafted the model act.  The psychologists’ lobby obviously intended it to be broad.  It gives psychology boards too much power to drive others out of business if they offer help with personal problems.”

Serafine quoted the Court of Appeals’ opinion in her case, Serafine v. Branaman, No. 14-51151 (5th Cir.):

“The ability to provide guidance about the common problems of life—marriage, children, alcohol, health—is a foundation of human interaction and society….  By limiting the ability of individuals to dispense personal advice about mental or emotional problems based on knowledge gleaned in a graduate class in practically any context, subsection (c) chills and prohibits protected speech. But that is precisely what the overbreadth doctrine is meant to prevent.  Section 501.003(c), and by implication, Section 501.003(b)(2), are overbroad and contravene the First Amendment.  [citations omitted].

…asked whether it was possible to draft a narrower definition of the practice of psychology, Serafine said, “No.  Because there is no scientific basis for it. There isn’t even a general professional consensus about the correct principles and methods of psychology.  The lobby is one of self-interest.”

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UPDATE: Fifth Circuit Strikes Texas’ “Practice of Psychology” Law as Unconstitutional