From MPA's President Robin McLeod, Ph.D., L.P.: MPA Volunteers - Makin' it Happen in Minnesota!

Welcome to Spring!  The Minnesota Psychological Association’s annual convention is behind us now, and we are looking forward to the coming months.  While writing this essay to you, I learned that the Minnesota legislature passed a bill containing MPA’s proposed Duty-to-Warn language, and Governor Dayton signed it into law!  There is NO ambiguity remaining – psychology supervisors and psychologists-in-training can rest assured that in Duty-to-Warn situations, you are protected with immunity. 

The issue began about this time last year when the Executive Director of the Minnesota Board of Psychology notified MPA that a Duty to Warn case had been overturned on appeal with a ruling indicating that psychology supervisees are not covered with immunity in our current Psychology Practice Act in situations where a Tarasoff warning is required.  In essence, an appeals court had ruled that when receiving information about a credible homicidal threat, supervisees could be sued effectively should they report this information to authorities.  Due to language in the MN Practice Act, this appeals court ruled that only licensed psychologists have immunity is such situations.  MPA leaders were relieved that the Board of Psychology had given us this heads-up, and then sprang into action.   We knew that not only would we need to work to change the language of the law to achieve important clarification in the Practice Act;  we also recognized that we would be serving all psychologists in Minnesota by submitting an Amicus Curiae Brief to the Minnesota Supreme Court, slated to hear this case in 2016.

Under the steady leadership of then-president Dr. Scott Palmer, we consulted the American Psychological Association’s Practice Organization (APAPO), who provided guidance in submitting an application for a legislative grant to advocate for clarification in this point of law.  They also recommended that we move forward with filing an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case, noting that after filing the brief, we could apply for another grant through their Psychology Defense Fund.  If you ever wonder whether to pay dues to the APAPO, now you know how important it is to do just that.  The American Psychological Association advocates nationally for psychology.  It is the APAPO, however, that advocates and fights nationally for the interests of psychologists.  Just a few weeks ago the Supreme Court hearings on the Duty-to-Warn case were heard, and in a few months we will learn of their decision.

Here at the same time as MPA leadership worked on the amicus brief, Dr. Trisha Stark and her MPA Legislative Committee worked hard to craft legislative language that explicitly identifies doctoral-level psychology trainees as “licensees” of the MN Board of Psychology for the purposes of Duty-to-Warn situations.  This Practice Act clarification resolved ambiguity in language, and confirmed the original intent of the law to cover students and post-doctoral psychology applicants for licensure in these situations.  MPA volunteers met with legislators in March of this year during Mental Health Day on the Hill to communicate the importance of their support for this legislation, and MPA representatives spoke in both Senate and House hearings.  As the Minnesota legislative session continued, however, MPA experienced a setback when we learned that our stand-alone legislation would not be heard in a final House committee, rendering the bill effectively dead for 2016.  Due to the very hard work and expertise of MPA’s lobbyist Patrick Lobejko, MPA was able to get the language of our bill amended onto other legislation.  I am told that doing this is an almost herculean feat!

As I sit back and reflect on the work of MPA volunteers, psychologists who step up to advocate for ALL psychologists in Minnesota, I also look ahead to the work before us.  You can feel confident that the psychologists who volunteer to lead our association work diligently to advocate for and protect your interests.  As we become aware of situations that threaten what it is that we do as psychologists, we do not sit back and wait to find out how bad it will become.  Instead, we step forward, sometimes into turbulent waters, because we believe in you.  While this most recent Duty-to-Warn threat to the practice of psychology in Minnesota was a very public battle, there are times when MPA leaders are behind the scenes in non-public ways, protecting your interests, fighting for your right to practice psychology in our state, protecting your interests and working toward concrete clarity in the Minnesota Psychology Practice Act.  Our motto:  Connection, PROTECTION, Growth! 

Robin McLeod, Ph.D., L.P., is the 2016 MPA President. She founded and owns a small private practice behavioral health specialty clinic with two locations: Woodbury & St. Paul.  You may email her at [email protected].  Her websites are:  and


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