Note: The following opinion is a lightly-edited excerpt from the new fourth edition of Basics of California Law for LMFTs, LPCCs, and LCSWs. The ban on soliciting testimonials from clients is discussed in one of the book’s new “Room for Debate” segments. To see Emma Jaegle’s counterargument supporting the ban, get the book. For more on what’s in the new edition, which is updated to 2017 state law, click here.
I’m presenting at the Networking Luncheon at this week’s AAMFT Annual Conference in Indianapolis. (Come see!) The topic of the presentation will be the big picture of what’s happening in the field of psychotherapy: Fewer people are coming for services, they’re paying less for them, and our salaries as professionals are dropping relative to inflation. I’ll be talking about what individual practitioners can do to turn the ship. With the steps I outline in the book Saving Psychotherapy (and in next week’s talk), you can improve your own practice while helping the field as a whole. If you’d like a brief taste of what I’ll be talking about next week, I’ve recently done a couple of interviews you might like.
The National Labor Relations Board declared this week that student assistants at private universities are employees and have the right to unionize. The decision overturned a 2004 precedent. It will allow thousands of teaching and research assistants to use collective bargaining to demand better pay and working conditions.
The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) has announced the development of the EPPP-2 (or EPPP Step 2), a new licensing exam for Psychologists. States would adopt it as an addition to, and not a replacement for, the current EPPP. Even though the test is in the early stages of development, it’s already controversial.
Since the qualifications for each of the psychotherapy professions is largely consistent across state lines, it makes sense for the professions to do what they can to make it easier to take your license from one state to another. In recent months, there have been a handful of advances in license portability. Here’s where each of the professions stands today.
Over the past months, a number of readers have privately, and very kindly, asked whether I would be okay with them selling their used copies of my exam prep book, Preparing for the California MFT Law & Ethics Exam, once they’re done with it. In short, I am. But selling isn’t your only option for using test prep materials after you have passed the test you bought them for. And there are a couple of options you shouldn’t take. Let’s run down the list of what you can and can’t do with used exam prep materials.
I am part of several online groups for psychotherapists, on Facebook and elsewhere. We talk about ethics, about theories, and sometimes about cases (without identifying details, of course, to protect confidentiality). Most of the time, when people say something that isn’t right, the collective wisdom of the group corrects the error. That’s one of many positives of social media: It allows professionals all over the world to share information and hold each other to high standards of knowledge and behavior.
Sometimes, though, a myth or misstatement is so common that the collective doesn’t effectively stop it. Here are the five misstatements about legal and ethical issues that I see most often from therapists.
The so-called “gig economy” — best exemplified by ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft — has brought political attention to the plight of workers who are hired as independent contractors rather than employees. As independent contractors, these workers typically have no ability to engage in collective bargaining, often receive little or no benefits, and have limited workplace protections. The attention they are receiving might end up helping therapists and counselors who take insurance — or who would, if the pay and benefits were better. It could also help clients by improving accessibility of care.
The American Psychological Association apologized on Friday for its actions that allowed psychologists to participate in the torture of military detainees. Those actions are detailed in the extensive “Independent Review Relating to APA Ethics Guidelines, National Security Interrogations, and Torture” (otherwise known simply as the Hoffman report). It is the most thorough examination to date of how APA staffers, aiming to remain in the good graces of the Central Intelligence Agency and (especially) the Department of Defense, actively sought to create ethics policies that allowed psychologists to be involved with torture and shielded them from consequences for doing so.
Note: The following is an edited excerpt from Saving Psychotherapy: How therapists can bring the talking cure back from the brink. You can buy it on Amazon.
Licensing exams do not assess your effectiveness as a therapist. They aren’t meant to. That bears repeating: License exams do not assess your effectiveness as a therapist. They are a licensing board’s best effort at assessing whether you have the minimal knowledge (not skill, knowledge) to be able to practice independently without being a danger to the public. That’s all. When therapists decry the fact that license exams are nothing like doing therapy, they’re right – and their point isn’t relevant. Exams aren’t supposed to be like therapy. If you want to know how good you are as a therapist, look elsewhere, because exams are not and are not intended to be a barometer of clinical effectiveness. They are a somewhat crude assessment of safety for independent practice.
With that aim in mind, do they work? Do licensing exams make therapists safer?
There’s remarkably little data to answer that question.