Why good therapists suffer from exploitation

Barry Duncan has an article in the current Psychotherapy Networker asking, “Why would anybody become a therapist?” The job offers low pay compared to other jobs with similar training requirements. Workers in community mental health are often stretched beyond the breaking point. And as we’ve covered here regularly, employer abuses of therapists are unfortunately common. When even a single therapist pushes back against exploitation, it makes a real difference. But that doesn’t happen very often.

Duncan’s article offers some interesting overlaps with our past coverage here. It can explain fairly well why even the best therapists can be easy targets for exploitation at work.

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Why MFTs struggle to influence public policy

George Hodan / PublicDomainPictures.net / Licensed under Creative Commons 0As marriage and family therapists, we have a vast body of knowledge supporting our work with families and communities. Many of the pinciples and interventions from this body of knowledge could be utilized in public policy, to great positive effect. As two examples, family breakdown could be reduced, and juvenile crime recidivism decreased, both in ways that actually save taxpayers money. Politicians of all parties should be chomping at the bit for such policies.

Except that they don’t. And the April 2009 Family Relations journal helps us to understand why not.

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Is it couple therapy, couple’s therapy, or couples therapy?

Matthew Henry / Burst / Used under licenseOkay, let’s not pretend this is an important question in the grand scheme of things. It is not. But for anxious types (like me) who want to make sure we’re using the right terminology, how do we describe that service of providing relationship therapy for two people? Is it couple therapy, couple’s therapy, or couples therapy?

I’m proud to offer a definitive, authoritative answer.* Read on.

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MFT licensure: Why 3,000 hours?

Whenever I get into conversations about the MFT licensure process, and how it differs from one state to another, similar questions come up. Earlier I addressed the fundamental question of whether license examinations make for better therapists. Another common question I hear: Why do we require 3,000 hours of supervised, prelicensed experience for MFT licensure?

(Making things more complicated, why do some states require more? California uses the 3,000-hour standard. Arizona, like a handful of other states, requires 3,200 hours. Some other states simply say “two years of full-time supervised experience or the equivalent.”)

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Senioritis: The last stretch of hours before licensure

Brodie Vissers / Burst / Used under licenseWe all remember the last semester of high school. A new life chapter was approaching. Our childhood was ending. We would soon experience the freedom of the college world.

It was scary to know that we would be on our own, but we were itching to leave. We knew the quality of our work did not reflect what we were capable of, we just wanted it out of the way. I even remember calculating how much I had to do to just barely pass my classes and coast through the rest of my school year. It did not matter that more difficult times and more responsibility were imminently ahead of us, we just wanted to be done with high school. We called it “senioritis.”

Nearing the end of your 3,000 hours towards licensure can be eerily similar.

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Using FaceTime for therapy sessions might actually be HIPAA compliant

Basics of California Law 5th edition coverWith so many therapists and clients owning iPhones, some therapists have started experimenting with doing sessions via Apple’s FaceTime videoconferencing. While Apple does not provide a Business Associate Agreement (typically required under HIPAA) for use of FaceTime, there is an interesting legal argument that suggests FaceTime may still be safe for therapists to use.

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