Category Archives: Bullying From Psychology Board

This is the Age of Science, So Let’s Crunch the Numbers!

scientists_studying_psychologistsThe Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners has come under a lot of criticism recently, but how can we tell if it’s justified? Well, this is the Age of Science, so let’s do some research!

May 25, 2015: This is a work in progress. I’m putting the framework here and providing access to the raw data. As I work my way through the data, I will post conclusions. I will also add links and references over time.

June 2, 2015: I’ve uploaded a spreadsheet with most of the data entry complete, but not the analysis. See the update at the end of this article.

Purpose of the Experiment

To see where the Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners (OBPE) lies on the spectrum between scrupulous, even-handed fairness and the reckless, biased, abuse of power.

Background About the Fairness Problem

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
— Lord Acton

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An Epic Fail: How Not To Intimidate Someone

So there I was, attending the Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners Meeting on March 20. It was sparsely attended, as usual, with just myself, Christian Wolff (a licensed Psychologist Associate who attends all the board meetings), someone associated with the Oregon Psychological Association, and another guy.

A Mysterious Stranger

After the meeting, Christian and I went out to the lobby and were talking, and the other guy also went to the lobby, so Christian did the polite thing and went over and introduced himself. Then he came back and told me what he learned:

(The laughter is mostly mine.) In short, the other guy was a security guard: a Mr. Colton of Advanced Security, Inc. in Salem. (Nice guy, by the way.) Now, normally I’d have assumed that the only reason for a security guard to attend something as sedate as a Psychology Board meeting would be to catch up on sleep, but he showed too much interest in us for that. In short, he oregon_board_of_psychologist_examinerswas there for us!

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Kurt Swensen Talks about Psychology Board Bullying

Kurt Swensen, host of the popular podcast Online Recovery Support Radio (with around 200,000 listeners) talks about the bizarre bullying he’s undergoing from the Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners at the beginning of podcast Episode 307.

As with the Psychology Board’s other victims, he has received a vague and incoherent letter from the OBPE, followed by a bullying phone conversation that left him shaken. But now he’s lawyered up, and his listeners are ready to help in any way they can.

I wish him well, and will watch events with interest. I fully expect him to win. As usual, the Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners has no case.

What Does Bullying From the Psychology Board Sound Like?

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public.

Karen Berry
Karen Berry of the OBPE

So suppose you’re an alternative counselor operating under Oregon’s generous exemptions, meaning you don’t need to have a license. What does it sound like when the Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners tries — illegally — to bully you into shutting down?

It sounds just like this (shared with the permission of its recipient):

Note that Karen Berry, the “Investigator” for the Board of Psychologist Examiners,  doesn’t even pretend that she’s investigating “the practice of psychology,” which is the only thing the Board is authorized to investigate. She admits that she wants a counselor to shut down a counseling practice.

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Legal Update for Exempt Practitioners

25099212_sIn Oregon, the Board of Psychologist Examiners (OBPE) has long claimed a legally dubious authority over exempt practitioners. This is odd, because these exemptions are not for psychologists, but for counselors and marriage and family therapists! So the OBPE has long been poaching on other Boards’ turf.

After looking into the matter on my own, I concluded that their claim to authority was not only of questionable propriety, it’s of questionable legality.

No Authority Over Unlicensed Practitioners

But after consulting with several lawyers, it turns out I was wrong. Their authority isn’t questionable, it’s nonexistent.

The Psychology Board Knows This, Sort of

Doomed policies of the OBPE are steaming full speed ahead

The Board itself is starting to consider the possibility of changing course … eventually. At the March 20, 2015 board meeting, they announced the semi-existence of an Exempt Practitioner Workgroup, a group that has never met, whose membership has not been disclosed, and which has no deadlines. In the meantime, their unlicensed practitioner prosecutions are proceeding full speed ahead. I’m hearing from more and more of them (and if you’re one of them, feel free to get in touch.)

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