On interdisciplinary collaboration

In her article "Working together to support teachers" (February Monitor), Erika Packard missed a great opportunity to speak to the need and value of clearly identified interdisciplinary collaboration with our friends in school counseling and social work. The Instructional Consultation (IC) Team approach has many benefits for students, teachers and parents. In the article, school counselors and social workers were among those labeled as "other school personnel."

I must note that in the IC Web site, the involved professional disciplines are clearly identified. From my perspective there is an increasing trend among the various helping disciplines to not publicly recognize the value of each others' contributions. I find this quite sad and certainly not to the benefit of our consumers.

John Hipple, PhD

Denton, Texas

Tenure bias

In the February Monitor article "Balancing tenure and family-do academic parents need a break?" Dr. Diane Halpern states that men with a child born within five years of receiving a doctorate achieve tenure at a higher rate than men without children. Women in a similar situation are 20 to 24 percent less likely to achieve tenure 12 to 14 years after their doctorate, compared with, among others, men without children. That is, men with an early child do better then women with an early child.

Her solution: Give new parents up to one semester of reduced duties and stop the tenure clock temporarily.

Since the problem of having an early child, for example, adversely affects women only, clearly her proposed solution is wrong. The solution for reversing the role/female discrepancy is to increase, in society in general, men's participation in bringing up children as well as in domestic duties.

Minola Pinard, PhD


Adolescents and confidentiality

I'm one of those mental health attorneys to which psychologists were referred in February's "Ethics Rounds" column if they had legal questions about the confidentiality of adolescents. I formerly practiced as a psychologist but now represent mental health professionals and organizations. While one may appreciate the ambiguity that exists from clinical and ethical perspectives, there just isn't much leeway from a legal one.

Absent uncommon circumstances, persons under the age of 18 are considered incompetent to consent to their own treatment, and so informed consent must be obtained from their parents. Informed consent is a comprehensive and ongoing process and, thus, parents must be apprised of all significant issues being dealt with, including--usually most problematically--petty criminality, "non-dangerous" but illicit substance and alcohol use, and consensual underage sexual activity. Failure to inform parents of these or other significant issues results in treatment being rendered without legally adequate informed consent.

This is a consequential matter. Parents feel aggrieved and complain or sue when they discover their ignorance about their adolescent child has deprived them of the control, however limited that may be with adolescents, that attends their parental concern and responsibility.

The way out of this dilemma is for psychologists to obtain from parents, if they're willing to give it, an explicit waiver: "Okay, Dr. A.B., I agree that you don't have to tell me about my child's petty crimes, substance and alcohol use, sexual activity, etc., unless and until you think it has become dangerous to my child or others."

Bruce V. Hillowe, JD, PhD

Mineola, N.Y.