Practicing Your Profession In Oregon Without a License, Legally and Ethically

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Can therapists and alternative practitioners practice without a license in Oregon? In many fields, yes, they can! Are there any rules at all? Yes, there are. I created this Web site to make this information easier to find and understand.

When I started my hypnotherapy practice in Oregon, I found the few online resources scattered and confusing, and this is still the case: No agency takes much of an interest in us. Hence, this Web site.

Oh, and if you’re a licensed practitioner, welcome! Most of the posts on this site will be 100% applicable to you, too, as we discuss topics such as ways to build your practice and give it a compelling, personalized Web presence.

Oregon Mellow

One thing you need to understand about Oregon is that it’s not one of those states where the Legislature is license-happy. As in some other states, the Legislature deliberately keeps things a little loose here, as you’d expect in Oregon.

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Two Oregon Boards Attack Free Speech

An Engineer Can’t Call Himself an Engineer in Oregon

Oregon engineer Mats Järlström, was slapped with a $500 fine by the Oregon Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying. His crime? Sending them a helpful letter, one in which he (accurately) identified himself as an engineer.

According to the Board, no one but a licensed professional engineer can call himself an “engineer” in Oregon. Never mind that Järlström’s observations might save lives. Järlström is suing, with assistance from the Institute of Justice. (See the IJ article, Lawsuit Challenges Oregon Law Prohibiting Mathematical Criticism Without a License.)

The idea that Oregon’s engineers like me can’t call themselves “engineers” came as a big surprise to everyone. Even to Oregon’s engineers. Actually, especially to Oregon’s engineers. Why? Because licensing boards are like pointy-haired bosses, entirely antithetical to the serous, get-‘er-done mindset of engineers. They’re have nothing to contribute and are painful to listen to, so we don’t. Boards are, in a word, silly.

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Feds Closing In On Licensing Boards

An alert reader pointed out an article by Eric Boehm today, New FTC Task Force Will Put Licensing Boards On Notice, where he describes the new Economic Liberty Task Force of the Federal Trade Commission. The Task Force is focused solely on the illegal persecution of exempt practitioners by state licensing boards, with a dual role of:

  • Advising state licensing boards of the limits the federal government imposes on their power.
  • Taking legal action against many boards that insist on violating federal law.

All this came about when, once again, the Federal Trade Commission’s powers were affirmed in the courts, this time by the Supreme Court (FTC v. North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners, 2014).

Why a Task Force?

In that decision, the Supreme Court reiterated in extremely clear language that state licensing boards aren’t allowed to hassle anyone except their own licensees. There are a couple of exceptions, but they require that the state law governing the boards be structured in a particular way—which it generally isn’t. (It certainly isn’t in Oregon.)

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Court Overturns Incompetent Psychology Board Decision

The Oregon Court of Appeals today overturned a disciplinary action of the Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners.

How bad was the psychology board’s original decision? Read on and decide for yourself.

The Board Does the Right Thing … Or Does It?

Justice at lastDavid T. Bice, a licensed psychologist, was disciplined in by the board in 2011 for improprieties that allegedly happened all way back in 2003. Dr. Bice appealed, of course, and the Oregon Court of Appeals supported him, slapping down the Psychology Board for an unbelievable number of mistakes, some of which were clearly deliberate.

I quote from the Oregon Court of Appeals decision (emphasis is mine; notes ending with ‘RP’ are also mine):

“In August and September 2003, SM, an 18-year-old woman, saw petitioner [that is, Dr. Bice —RP.] as a client for seven sessions. SM had decided to stop seeing her prior therapist because she did not like the advice she was receiving and began seeing petitioner, who had been her father’s therapist, to help her process her grief over her father’s sudden death, before she left the state for college. [SM turned 18 the day after her first session with petitioner.] SM’s mother filed a complaint against petitioner shortly after SM stopped treating with him based on allegations that petitioner had behaved in a manner that made SM uncomfortable, ‘indicating that [petitioner’s] behavior with SM was personal and physical without being overtly sexual.’ The board dismissed that complaint because SM told her mother that she did not want to pursue the complaint herself and did not sign a release for her records. The board, which it now admits was in violation of its own rules, deliberately decided not to notify petitioner about the complaint or the dismissal.
—From 281 Or App 623 (2016)

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Occupational Licensing Under Fire From Everybody

Hair braiding is no longer a crime in IowaThe Wall Street Journal has come out against the creep of occupational licensing, identifying it as a major cause of economic stagnation. The following is quoted from the July, 26th 2016 Wall Street Journal:

Braids of Liberty: A victory in what should be a nationwide war on occupational licensing

One reason for the slow pace of U.S. job creation is the spreading web of licensing laws that impede the self-employed and small business. So two cheers for Iowa, where state lawmakers have liberated hair-braiders from a requirement to get a state cosmetology license.

As with most such rules, hair braiding laws around the country result from lobbying by beauty-ship owners who want to hobble competitors and state licensing boards that want to retain power.  Incredibly, the Iowa law forced women who merely want to help other women braid their hair to spend as much as $22,000 and 2,100 hours in training. Some cosmetology schools don’t even teach hair-braiding, which is a skill often handed down from African-American mothers to daughters.

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Psychologists: If You Know the Right People, You can Do What You Like

Oregon’s Psychology Board is still trying to give the impression that they actually do their job. On Friday, they issued a press release:

Press release by Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners in Shelly Kerr case.

Shelly Kerr, unethical UO psychologist
Shelly Kerr

As is so often the case, they leave out some important facts:

So it’s not even a slap on the wrist.

Deliberate? Or Accidental?

Charles Hill, Director Oregon psychology board
Charles Hill, executive director, OBPE

When dealing with the Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners, one should always stop and ask whether anyone knew what they were doing.

There can be no doubt that, in this case, they knew exactly what they were doing: when the fine was reduced from $5,000 to $2,500, it was at the plea of the University (which is actually paying it), not from Kerr.

Even the $5,000 is just a rounding error from the University’s point of view. So far, their expenses include:

This is the context in which the Psychology Board decided that a $5,000 fine was too large, so they magnanimously knocked it down to $2,500.

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