Department of Justice Puts a Stop to Psychology Board Pettiness

OBPE can never resist doing the wrong thing.The Oregon Department of Justice just stopped another act of pettiness by the Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners (OBPE), as described by University of Oregon professor Bill Harbaugh in his widely read UO Matters blog. Harbaugh is investigating the Psychology Board’s handling of the UO counseling records scandal, where the Psychology Board plans to deliver a mere slap on the wrist to Shelly Kerr, a licensed psychologist.

Shelly Kerr
Teflon Psychologist Shelly Kerr.

Kerr is accused of copying confidential records of a gang-rape victim without the knowledge or consent of the victim or her counselor, and delivering them to the University’s attorneys. For this, the Psychology Board proposes a slap on the wrist.

Where the Board once, for example, gave Christian Wolff a one-year suspension and a $10,000 fine for merely abbreviating “Psychologist Associate” to “PsyA,”* they calculate the value of betraying a rape victim at a $5,000 fine, and no suspension.** As you can imagine, this case is receiving a lot of attention.

Read More...

We’re Exempt! Boards Concede that Exemptions are Real

We're Exempt!After more than a year of foot-dragging, the Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners has conceded that the licensing exemptions in Oregon law do, in fact, exist, and that exempt practitioners are outside the authority of the licensing boards.

We’re Exempt!

Specifically, the “educational exemption” in ORS 675.825(4) was conceded. This exemption allows anyone to practice counseling or marriage and family therapy without a license. And since the definitions of counseling and marriage and family therapy are so broad, this exemption also covers practitioners who don’t even think of themselves as counselors or family therapists — hypnotherapists, NLP practitioners, and so on.

The Board’s Predicament

What kind of meeting was it? Let’s consider the context:

Read More...

How to Keep Client Information Confidential

university-of-oregon-confidentiality-caseHow confidential is confidential information? Oregon is rolling in mental-health scandal issues right now. The one that’s most in the news is from the University of Oregon, where a rape victim went to the student mental health center, and when she accused some athletes of the crime, the University’s lawyers plucked her records out of her files. This was done without the consent of the patient or her therapist, by the psychologist in charge of the counseling center, whose job title, Vice President for Student Life, has thus become a sad joke. People at the center who protested had their jobs threatened.

No one has been arrested in either the rape or the theft of the documents. All that’s likely to happen is a disciplinary hearing in front of the Oregon State Bar regarding the University’s lawyers who asked for the documents, and one in front of the Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners for the University vice president (who is a licensed psychologist) for handing them over.

Read More...

Uproar Over Pro-Torture Stances in the Helping Professions

Jean Mercer posted an entry in her ChildMyths blog about the responses over different professional organizations to US-sponsored torture. The American Psychiatric Association shunned torture from the beginning, but the American Psychological Association was willingly complicit with the torture in Guantanamo Bay, and actually rewrote their code of “ethics”to become pro-torture. Fast-forward many, many years, and the American Psychological Association has finally passed a resolution to reverse this policy.

Mercer also points out that — unlike physicians (including psychiatrists), who since the time of Hippocrates have held the ethical principal of, “First of all, do no harm” —  psychologists have been reluctant to adopt this stance.

Read More...

Foot-Dragging, Silence, and Turnover

At the May 2015 meeting of the Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners, they once again put the issue of their own illegal harassment of unlicensed practitioners on the agenda (they called it “Exempt Practitioner Workgroup”), and once again they did nothing.

Money talks, and silences at the oregon board of psychologist examinersWarren Foote, the board’s attorney, said that they were not done “investigating the legislative history of the exemption.” But that’s just lawyer-speak for “We’re in the wrong, the case against us is open-and-shut, but I’m still combing through the dusty stacks of precedent, hoping against hope to find a loophole.”

In the meantime, what about the board’s false prosecutions? They’ve put them on hold, right? “Above all, do no harm.” Well, the OBPE is a different kind of organization. The investigations are continuing, as if nothing had happened.

Read More...