Category Archives: Alternative/Unlicensed

Gregory Bateson and Choosing Your Assumptions Wisely

gregory_bateson_steps_to_an_ecology_of_mindSo I’ve been surveying brief therapy techniques and advanced modalities, and what do I find? Most of them seem to have a direct connection with one man, Gregory Bateson: brief therapy, hypnotherapy, NLP,  Hakomi, sensorimotor psychotherapy, family therapy, and many more.

Wait, what? Gregory Bateson wasn’t a therapist, he was an anthropologist. He studied cultures in New Guinea. (He was married to Margaret Mead, another famous anthropologist.) But maybe that’s the point. Big changes tend to be started  by outsiders who bring a new perspective. Typically they’re from a related field. Freud wasn’t a psychiatrist: he was a neurologist. Louis Pasteur wasn’t a physician: he was a chemist.

Being an anthropologist gets you out of the office and into the field, watching people interact with each other in ways that seem weird to you but (mostly) work for them. You can’t understand it you never see it! Read More...

What’s the Difference Between a Counselor and a Psychologist?

Which is better, a counselor or a psychologist?Everyone will tell you that a licensed psychologist has a PhD and a licensed counselor has a Master’s degree. Fair enough. But if you’re looking for therapy, what can psychologists do that counselors can’t, and vice versa? And should you expect a better outcome with a PhD psychologist than a counselor with a Master’s degree? In short, what’s the difference between a counselor and a psychologist? And what about exempt, alternative therapists who have taken trainings, but don’t have a license or an advanced degree?

Is Conventional Wisdom True?

How many of these statements do you believe?

  • A counselor deals with simple problems; a psychologist deals with complex problems.
  • The difference in coursework between a counselor (with a Master’s degree) and a psychologist (with a PhD) is that a psychologist spends those extra years focusing on advanced therapy skills.
  • Psychologists can diagnose “mental disorders”; counselors can’t.

None of those statements are true. Here’s the real deal:

  • Counselors and psychologists deal with the same problems.
  • The difference in coursework is that psychologists are trained to do scientific research. Therapy training is about the same.
  • Both counselors and psychologists can diagnose “mental disorders.”

So, yes, I’m claiming that psychologists and counselors are the same thing, unless you’re looking for someone to run rats through a maze. Now, is this just my opinion, or do I have something to back it up? Perhaps something authoritative, like the legal definitions of the two professions? Read More...

How Much Do Degrees Matter? An Engineer’s Viewpoint

Do degrees really matter? And, if so, when? Here’s my take, which is an engineer’s viewpoint. As you’d expect, that means that the practical skills you learn along the way are considered to be the main thing, while the social value of the degree is not given much weight. I’m not claiming that this viewpoint is the best one, just that it’s worth thinking about.

Three Examples

My father, Ambrose D. Plamondon, in spite of having polio as a teenager and being unable to walk far, even with a cane, spent a productive career as an aeronautical engineer. This was surveyor landerback in the early days of jets and space travel: the Fifties and Sixties. He took on the monumentally difficult task of designing the stabilization control systems for many spacecraft, including the Bluebird satellite and the Surveyor moon lander. He designed the loading system for the TOW missile. He was one of the inventors of the Hughes Magnetic Memory Drum, a revolutionary advance in mass storage in the Fifties, which helped reduce the size of computers so they could be put into fighter jets. Read More...

Why Join a Professional Organization?

Licensed professionals like to claim that “unlicensed people can’t be trusted because they have no formal code of ethics and no committee that hears complaints.” Setting aside the crucial issue of whether this kind of formalism has  any real effect on misconduct (and, if so, in which direction), the premise itself is false. Lots of professional organizations have codes of ethics and compliance boards.

I belong the the National Guild of Hypnotists, and it has an ethics committee that can throw me out if I do something they find unacceptable. But more importantly, if I mess up and someone complains, they’ll try to set me straight first. There are some very good people on that committee, because the best of the best always believe in the power of helping others. Read More...

What the DSM and the Medical Model are For

ketchupThe “medical model of mental illness” and the new fifth edition of the DSM (DSM-V) have been kicked around by a lot of people recently. But let’s not lose track of the fact that the DSM serves a useful purpose. Most people wouldn’t put ketchup on everything, but they won’t claim that ketchup is useless, either. So, too, with the DSM.

Let’s keep in mind that DSM stands for “diagnostic and statistical manual,” and its main purpose is to allow different professionals to talk to each other with an agreed-upon vocabulary, and for records and statistics to be kept that had an agreed-upon meaning. This function is essential!

For example, suppose a guy goes on the rampage and breaks 57 windshields with a baseball bat because (he claims) this is the only way to keep the vampires at bay. After the sound of broken glass dies away, any number of people want to know, “Now what?” — starting with “jail or hospital?” and continuing on down the line. What to do depends on what’s going on with this dude, and that’ll influence actions by the cops, the courts, the hospital, the health-insurance company, the prosecuting and defense lawyers, his placement or probation if found guilty, and on and on. Read More...