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...

How to Serve on a Board or Committee

Don’t be afraid to vote no.
—James Hendry

Independence is better than being a cloneJames Hendry, a Portland attorney, finished his second and final term as a “public” (non-psychologist” member of the Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners in May. His valedictory message to the board included advice to be willing, even to feel good, about voting against the majority.

Hendry himself provided a good example of this. Most board decisions were either unanimous or had Hendry as the lone dissenting vote. And he dissented a lot! And he dissented well, casting his “no” vote in a firm, confident voice, neither apologetic nor confrontational, and letting it go when the board as a whole voted against him.

Update, July 11, 2015: This post is more timely than I realized, as two other board members on the OBPE have just resigned. These boards and commissions have high turnover, so if you throw your hat in the ring, you’ll get your chance sooner than you think. Read More...