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.

Why Would Psychologists Turn Abusive?

Why? Who knows why people become abusive? You’d think that members of the helping professions would have a better handle on this.

And you’d expect psychologists, in particular, to be mindful, because psychologists have all studied the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment, where student volunteers were divided into “guards” and “prisoners,” and the guards, once given a little power, quickly became abusive — so abusive that the experiment had to be terminated early, before more people were harmed. Psychologists are supposed to know better.

It’s Against Federal Law

Note that, in the message, Berry is trying to convince the counselor to shut her doors before having a hearing in front of a judge. That’s against the law. Having your day in court comes first. Innocent until proven guilty, due process of law, and all that. This is just as illegal as a cop telling you that he won’t give you a ticket if you pay him a bribe.

This sort of thing is common enough that the Federal Trade Commission has to prosecute state licensing boards pretty often, and just a couple of months ago the Supreme Court upheld a conviction of a state licensing board for doing exactly what the Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners is doing all the time.

Don’t be a Crime Victim

So if you get one of these, know that you’ve just become a crime victim. Don’t take it lying down! Instead, lawyer up. (I recommend Mike Flinn in Corvallis, either to represent you or to bring your own lawyer up to speed.)

How does the psych board get away with it? Because, until recently, people have been taking it lying down.

The Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners won’t be able to keep this up much longer. They’re too clearly in the wrong, in too many ways, and have riled too many of the wrong people.

Learn More

Sadly, there’s plenty more where that came from.

See my Legal Update post for more on the legal issues.

See my Main Page for the big picture.

3 thoughts on “What Does Bullying From the Psychology Board Sound Like?

  1. Dear Robert,
    You are unclear about specifics. It would be informative to know what you personally have experienced with “bullying.” I for one want any counselors to be licensed to avoid strange treatment.

    1. Parmalee,

      Unclear about specifics? The Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners recently admitted that the counseling exemption existed, after prosecuting exempt practitioners for over 20 years as if it didn’t. And their main goal has always been to bully and swindle practitioners into shutting down without a hearing. I posted an audio recording of one of these illegal shutdown messages on the blog.

      No, I haven’t been personally targeted by the OBPE. The counselor next door to me, Michaela Lonning, has. She was basically accused by the psychology board of practicing psychology by being a counselor, and that the psychology board has authority over all therapists, regardless of what the law says. This was not their finest hour.

      A lot of people feel that they would be comforted by the knowledge that their counselor is licensed, but why? It’s not as if Oregon’s licensure requirements have been rewritten take full advantage of the research into therapeutic effectiveness. As far as I can tell, this has never even been considered. I think the Oregon Legislature got this one right: the therapy community’s pretensions towards practicing scientific methods that are beyond the understanding of mere mortals do not stand up to scrutiny.

      Decades of studies into therapeutic effectiveness sometimes show the experienced, qualified professionals as having a slight edge over other people, and sometimes they show the opposite. In short, the traditional training system is ineffective. What actually increases therapeutic effectiveness is outcome tracking, where therapists use simple metrics to see how their clients are progressing. Getting progress into black and white helps them learn what’s working and what isn’t. There is zero chance that any of the licensing boards will require that applicants demonstrate good therapeutic results, though.

    2. I cannot believe I am only now seeing this. Sigh. Timelines are not what they used to be. I have been finding that investigating malfeasance on the part of these boards requires us to consider useful, information which goes back 20 years, and sometimes into the late 70’s. Parmalee, I hope Robert was specific enough for your purposes. You questioned his use of the term “bullying.” Respectfully, I must bring in to question your word choice “strange.” Personally, I see “strange” as a good thing – especially if it means “different.” People come to therapy and counseling because the regularities of the mainstream have failed them. “Regulatory” entities hold therapists to “regular” practice and endeavor to contain talented counselors. In circumventing “strange,” boards like those we know in Oregon, effectively undermine therapeutic change. The regular-lators are tragic, sad, counter-productive, existentially absurd, cosmic jokes and an impediment to all that would make the world a truly better place.

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