Serafine urges Governor Abbott to veto HB 3808

To: The Honorable Greg Abbott, Governor
Re: Urgent veto of HB 3808 is needed

Dear Governor Abbott:

I write as the Austin attorney and psychologist who brought the Serafine v. Branaman case, which struck down as unconstitutional the Texas definition of the “practice of psychology” because it infringed the freedom of speech.

Before you is House Bill 3808. It should be vetoed, urgently, by June 9th.

HB 3808 is a Trojan Horse. Ostensibly about educational loan assistance, it carries a bad amendment. The amendment redefines the “practice of psychology” so that it is worse than the old one and equally unconstitutional.

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The amendment outlaws a broad swath of opinion, advice, and ideas about personal life, whenever this infinite subject is discussed without a license during a “relationship” only the government can identify.

Texans deserve health freedom, especially in mental health. Some people prefer unlicensed practitioners outside the conventional system. They want life coaches, hypnotherapists, spiritual healers, business coaches, athletes, masters-degreed psychologists (currently prohibited unless “supervised”), curanderas, positive thinking coaches, internet programs, and countless others who are forced to operate under the radar or in fear of agency action based on definitions such as the one inside House Bill 3808.

HB 3808 otherwise accomplishes only a longer list of people who receive educational loan assistance and don’t need it—this time adding marriage and family therapists.

I urge you to veto HB 3808.

Respectfully submitted,
Mary Lou Serafine

American Psychological Association publishes story on conflict between free speech and regulation of psychology

The implications of Serafine v Branaman on state laws regarding the licensing of psychologists is becoming more widely known among psychologists.

The American Psychological Association published this story in its May issue of Monitor on Psychology noting how the decision “significantly disrupted the regulation of the practice of psychology in Texas, and it has serious implications for states with similar statutes.”
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While there are many professional associations in psychology, the American Psychological Association, with over 100,000 members, is by far the largest and most politically active.

The APA advocates a “model act” for licensing psychologists that purports to prohibit the defined “practice of psychology” and use of the word “psychologist,” except by government license. It is these two prohibitions in the Texas version of the act which Serafine succeeded in getting struck down as violating the freedom of speech.

Serafine advocates that states should certify psychologists as an option which would not infringe on First Amendment civil rights.