March 16, 2021
By Jon Riches

After a long and tedious fight, the Goldwater Institute has secured justice for Dr. Carol Gandolfo—and for other Arizonans looking to exercise their right to earn a living. 

Dr. Gandolfo is an accomplished psychologist who has been licensed to practice psychology for nearly 20 years. She has vast experience as a mental health provider and an impressive resume. She is, in short, an experienced and respected mental health professional. Dr. Gandolfo received her license to practice psychology in California, but she later moved to Arizona with her husband, where she volunteered for local agencies and quickly became a valued member of her local community in the Grand Canyon State.

Carol Gandolfo (Photo by James D. Peterson)

After Arizona passed the Goldwater Institute’s landmark Breaking Down Barriers to Work law, which allows Arizona residents who hold occupational licenses from other states to receive an Arizona license, Dr. Gandolfo applied to practice psychology in this state. Although she met the law’s criteria, the Arizona Board of Psychology Examiners denied her license, claiming that she had been an Arizona resident for too long, and that her doctoral degree was insufficient because it was from a state-accredited school rather than a regionally accredited school. After the Goldwater Institute took up Dr. Gandolfo’s case and appealed the denial of her license, the Board reversed its decision and granted Dr. Gandolfo her license, as well as several others who were similarly situated. 

Yet when Dr. Gandolfo appealed the Board’s refusal to abide by state law, the Board retaliated against her by opening an investigation against her for practicing psychology without a license. That Complaint was predicated on no reliable evidence, and it was based on lawful activities, including volunteer activities with the Sedona Police and Fire Departments, over which the Board had no jurisdiction.

Today, the Board closed the Complaint with a nonpunitive letter. This action recognizes that Dr. Gandolfo did not engage in any wrongdoing. And it draws to a close a long and punitive investigation that was only brought forward because Dr. Gandolfo exercised her rights under Arizona’s universal licensing law. 

At a time when more Arizonans are in need of mental health services, the Board should focus on allowing respected professionals to provide those services. The Board’s decision today allows Dr. Gandolfo to get back to providing the care she is trained and experienced to provide, and it assures other Arizonans that they can practice their professions free from the arbitrary restraints of occupational licensing boards. 

Jon Riches is the Director of National Litigation at the Goldwater Institute.

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