Much has been written about the relationship between Psychiatry and the Pharmaceutical industry. The ways in which the two groups increase each other’s revenues, work together to influence public perception of the value of psychotropic drugs and the giving and receiving of gifts and incentives which influence professional practice to the detriment of patient safety.
Psychology on the other hand has been conceptualized as a discipline that rejects the medical model of emotional distress in favour of non-drug, holistic, patient centred care. The evidence however suggests that psychology’s links to both the mental illness and pharmaceutical industries are as strong as those of psychiatry and arguably more insidious given the extent to which they exist below the radar of those exposing mental health abuses.
It is well known that psychologists, like psychiatrists, use the DSM to label people with diagnoses that justify the prescribing of a psychotropic drug. According to the Society for Humanistic Psychology (Division 32 of APA),
“The DSM is a central component of the research, education, and practice of most licensed psychologists in the United States. Psychologists are not only consumers and utilizers of the manual, but we are also producers of seminal research on DSM-defined disorder categories and their empirical correlates. Practicing psychologists in both private and public service utilize the DSM to conceptualize, communicate, and support their clinical work
Less well known perhaps is that psychology was as involved in the development of the ‘bible of psychiatry’ as psychiatry itself. The American Psychiatric Association tells us that the DSM-5 task force and work group members comprised nearly 100 psychiatrists and 47 psychologists.
Psychology’s involvement in the development of the DSM-5 sits alongside its intense lobbying over the past 30 years for prescribing rights for psychologists (RxP). The APA states;
“APA supports the efforts of state and provincial psychological associations and individual psychologists as they pursue the right of appropriately trained psychologists to prescribe psychoactive medications.” 
Its position has secured prescribing rights for psychologists in a number of US States and is quoted by Psychology’s professional associations in other parts of the world who are preparing training curricula for their members on psychopharmacology and actively pursuing prescribing rights.
In its lobbying for prescribing rights, the American Psychological Association put forward arguments which centred on increasing access to treatment for communities underserved by psychiatrists, convenience for patients and the potential to increase revenues for the industry at a time when psychologists salaries were decreasing.  It rejected claims that psychology would lose its focus on psychosocial approaches claiming that psychologists working within the biopsychosocial model could not ignore the biological dimension of mental illness and that psychologists would reduce their focus on therapy in favour of prescribing.
Nicholas Cummings, former president of the American Psychological Association however is less sure about this, asserting that when psychologists obtain prescribing rights “it remains to be seen . . . whether they abandon the hard work of psychotherapy for the expediency of the prescription pad.” 
There are a small number of prescribing psychologists worldwide and little research has been done on their practice and prescribing rates. As with any profession, from the limited information available, they appear to have adopted a range of approaches.
In an interview published by the American Psychological Association, James Quillin and Linda Upton, prescribing psychologists from Louisiana, report having 60% and 40% respectively of their patients on medication while E. Mario Marquez from Albuquerque has had prescribing rights for more than a year, but hasn’t issued a single new prescription and says the right to prescribe is also “the power to not prescribe, or to help wean patients off medications.” It is reported that “Marquez considers a range of psychosocial treatments before writing a prescription. In fact, he will only consider writing one after the child has already undergone comprehensive psychological evaluation and psychological tests; after he has interviewed the child’s parents or guardians; after he has observed the child in school; after the child’s teacher has rated the child’s behavior; and after he has the child’s medical, school and psychological history.” 
At the other end of the spectrum is Dr. Greenspan, a member of the American Society for the Advancement of Pharmacotherapy, a division of the American Psychological Association, who in a conference biography says she “adores the practice of psychopharmacology and believes that prescriptive authority is the key to psychology’s future” and is “devoted to RxP initiatives in the U.S and Canada. 
In 2003, psychologists were warning that “As professional psychology moves into a new era of prescription privileges, it will likely receive increasing direct financial and marketing attention from the pharmaceutical industry causing potential conflicts of interest that may affect the scientific database.” 
By 2004, they were reporting that this threat had been realized with psychologists being targeted with “gifts, perks, and educational programs by big pharma.” 
Interestingly, psychologists seem to have convinced themselves that they will be able to resist pharmaceutical company attempts to influence their prescribing behavior in a way psychiatry has not. In an article about the need for psychology to erect a ‘firewall’ between itself and the pharmaceutical industry in an era of prescribing psychologists, prominent psychologists address the issue by stating that
“One of the most important promises made by organized psychology in the pursuit of prescription privileges is that it will approach pharmacotherapy from the perspective of the scientist-practitioner . . . To back up this promise, we propose a high standard of scientific integrity and a clear boundary between science and advertising.” 
The Canadian Psychological Association comments that;
“It may be argued that it is naïve to assume that psychologists have a scientific moral superiority producing immunity from pharmacological marketing influences. It is equally naïve to argue that one should avoid delivering a potentially effective treatment because it exposes one to these marketing influences. Medicine has taken many steps in recent years to come to terms with this corporate influence, and psychology would have to take similar steps.”
To date however, psychology has not been particularly successful in avoiding becoming a tool of the industry. Training for drug company reps is based on “outcomes from well-designed research studies in the field of cognitive and educational psychology” , colour psychology is used to increase positive perceptions of drugs and medication adherence. Psychologists are employed by drug companies in a range of roles. Cognitive Psychologist Dr LaFountain developed the pharmaceutical industry’s only patented model predictive of drug adherence and has developed three US patents and one global patent for innovation in pharmaceutical marketing and analytics.  Peter J. Snyder a neuropsychologist who works at Pfizer is employed to develop biomarkers of CNS disease progression and treatment response.
The development of psychological tools to assist pharma marketing may be a product of the fact that in contrast to the ethical principles developed by psychiatry, the American Psychological Association’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct includes an exemption clause which allows psychologists to breach their code of ethics where the code is in conflict with their employers demands. 
Psychologists enjoy a very positive image with the public receiving a ‘very favorable’ or ‘somewhat favorable rating from 82% of Americans,  while a Canadian study commented that “psychiatrists seem to have an image problem” and found that around 75% of respondents were hesitant to see a psychiatrist because they are too ready to prescribe drugs.
They may be surprised that when a group of New Zealand psychologists were asked how useful medication would be in their practice 55% said “very or somewhat useful, 6% were unsure and 36% respondents said it would not be useful. Fifty-two percent of respondents listed at least one medication that would be of assistance with 91% of respondents to this question saying antidepressants and/or mood stabilisers would be useful. Medication for anxiety was thought to be useful by 61%, anti-psychotics by 27%, hypnotics by 24%, and stimulants by 19% of the group. 
I may have been living under a rock but I was shocked to find how many professions have prescribing rights around the world – opticians, dentists, midwives, nurses, chiropractors, osteopaths, pharmacists, podiatrists and physiotherapists. In fact, Dollars for Docs identifies a podiatrist as being the fourth on the list of the top earners from the pharmaceutical industry with a payment of over $650,000.
In reading the policy documents of these groups along with those of psychologists it is clear that for them, authority to prescribe symbolizes their legitimacy as scientists and physicians. Prescribing rights are accompanied by changes in job titles – medical chiropractors for example – which elevates them above colleagues without prescription pads. Prescribing has become a huge status symbol within the non-medical and alternative therapy fields.
I find this ironic given many chose their profession based on a rejection of the medical model. I find it even more ironic in relation to psychologists given the manufacturers of the drugs they prescribe talk about the ‘presumed mechanism of action’ as they are unable to provide any scientific evidence of their biological mechanism of action. As a symbol of scientific rigour, prescribing psychiatric drugs doesn’t seem the best choice.
I think the writing is on the wall that psychology will fill the gap left by the shortage of psychiatrists, that it will be cheaper, more accessible and less tarnished than psychiatry but deliver the same harms. I think it will become the new target for pharmaceutical industry corruption as drugs are branded as part of a holistic approach to curing mental disorders rather than miracle neurobiological cures. I think the public who are increasingly wary of psychiatry will be lulled into a false sense of security that psychology will have equal emphasis on psychosocial as biological approaches and feel safer and more comfortable engaging with psychologists to their detriment. I think those of us who promote alternatives to psychiatry need to be careful that we are not sending people from the frying pan to the fire.
 APA website, the American Psychological Association’s official position (adopted in 1995),
 Andrew M Pomerantz (Editor)2008 Clinical Psychology: Science, Practice, and Culture / Edition 2 Chapter3 Current Controversies in Clinical Psychology
 Cummings, N. A. (2007). Treatment and assessment take place in an economic setting, always. In S. O. Lilienfeld &W. T. O’Donohue (Eds.), The great ideas of clinical science (pp. 163–184). New York: Routledge (Taylor and Francis Group).
 Stambor, Zak. Psychology’s Prescribing Pioneers: Medical and Prescribing Psychologists in Louisiana and New Mexico Claim Added Patient Benefits. Monitor Staff July/August 2006. (37)7 American Psychological Association.
 Ontario Psychological Association The Prescriptive Authority (RxP) Initiative in Ontario
 David O. Antonuccio and William G. Danton. Psychology in the Prescription Era Building a Firewall Between Marketing and Science. American Psychologist 58(12), 1028–1043
 Reist, David; VandeCreek, Leon The Pharmaceutical Industry’s Use of Gifts and Educational Events to Influence Prescription Practices: Ethical Dilemmas and Implications for Psychologists. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, Vol 35(4), Aug 2004, 329-335
 James B. Gottstein Ethical and Moral Obligations Arising From Revelations of Pharmaceutical Company Dissembling Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry. 2010, 12(1)
 Mills, K. Getting beyond the couch How does the general public view the science of psychology?Monitor Staff. 2009, 40(3)
 Sanua, V., Ph.D.; Perceptions of Psychologists and Psychiatrists The Psychotherapy Patient. 9(3-4). Published online: 26 Oct 2008
 Fitzgerald, J., Galyer, K.; Collaborative Prescribing Rights for Psychologists: New Zealand Perspective. New Zealand Journal of Psychology. Nov, 2008 37 (3)