Coming together on master's-level psychology
I SUPPORT Dr. Zimbardo's plea that psychologists stop battling each other and deliver our services, with pride, to a nation that needs us. Does that include professionals providing psychological services at the master's level?
In 1994, I received Pennsylvania licensure in psychology by having a master's in clinical psychology and three years of supervision in addition to passing the national exam by a wide margin. (The following year the law went into effect requiring a doctorate for licensure).
I have never deluded myself there is no advantage to having the doctoral degree. Of course there is. Unfortunately, all parties in need of services could not be served if there were no individuals, such as myself, who have undergone rigorous education, supervision and experience in order to provide psychotherapy. I feel proud to bear the title of psychologist.
Imagine my disappointment and eventual anger to see APA, the organization to which I paid dues, lobby so hard to limit the scope of practice of appropriately credentialed master's-level clinicians--even to the point of trying to be sure the term "psych" or any derivative thereof not be applied to our work.
May I respectfully suggest to Dr. Zimbardo that no more energy be utilized in limiting clinicians who are appropriately credentialed by their own states? May I suggest to my colleagues that many of us with master's degrees provide essential services; some of us have even earned the hallowed title of "psychologist"? With all that good will being passed around, save some for us. Like it or not, we too are out in the trenches representing psychology to the public.
LINDA E. MEASHEY, MS
Middletown, Pa.Changes to APA's ethics code
I HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT changes in the draft ethical code that require psychologists to maintain a distant, disconnected stance in their community. I am speaking of the requirement to maintain objectivity stressed in the draft code several times, particularly in the "multiple relationships" section.
The draft code contradicts the call for psychologists to be involved in community policy and issues. In the January Monitor, both the current APA president and the president-elect rightly call for psychologists to form multiple relationships in our communities by becoming involved. Dr. Zimbardo calls for us to make "human connections" and Dr. Sternberg says to "merge science, education, public policy and practice." Psychology needs a renewed community focus in which interconnectedness is encouraged, not discouraged by an overly restrictive ethical code. Psychology risks becoming more mysterious to society and ultimately irrelevant.
The draft APA ethical code is highly restrictive compared with other professional ethical codes. Excessive restrictions on multiple relationships relegate psychology to an anonymous insignificance in communities. Promoting psychology in the community means psychologists must be involved members of the community, active and visible at the grass-roots level. However, by doing so, we form multiple relationships and doing so, we compromise objectivity. Objectivity is a construct we recognize cannot be fully attained in sterile experimental environments, let alone the real world. We should not hold our profession to such a dubious standard. Ephemeral, hypothetical constructs are best left for debate in academic circles than in deciding the fate of psychologists by courts or professional boards.
RALPH LOUIS JR., PHD
CONGRATULATIONS TO APA'S Committee on Accreditation for voting to allow religious schools to keep their accreditation (January Monitor)--even though these schools set standards for sexual behavior which conflict with APA's values.
Religious traditionalists in psychology have long been coerced (through the scientific peer-review process, faculty selection and academic pressure) into abandoning their distinctive identities and becoming more like APA itself.
APA says it loves diversity. However, its own values--sexual freedom, the redefinition of gender and of marriage, and the belief that individual "choice" is to be valued above allegiance to an external moral order--represent a particular vision of the good. And in enforcing its own particular vision, APA has in fact obliterated the very diversity it claims it loves.
LINDA AMES NICOLOSI
'Prescriptions for society'
IT WAS REFRESHING TO READ the letter by Alan J. Lewis in the January issue regarding APA's response to terrorism, and not because of the content. I do not endorse the jingoistic underpinnings of the recommendations made to address terrorism. However, the letter demonstrates that recommendations and prescriptions for society often reflect individual biases and belief systems. Psychologists can take a variety of positions regarding a sociopolitical issue (such as addressing terrorism) and claim or infer that their position is backed up by psychological research. Therefore, extreme care needs to be exercised when making prescriptions for society in the name of "psychological science."
Within recent years, psychologists have not exercised such care, in my opinion. In our zeal to become more socially relevant we have gone straight from sitting in our ivory towers to standing on our soapboxes. This is not only a misuse of science but it places our reputation as a scholarly profession in jeopardy. By and large, the public wants information to assist with decision-making and we are often well-equipped to provide such information. However, the public is much more reluctant to have a profession tell them what to do, especially if they suspect that our politics or the needs of special-interest groups taint our recommendations. This is not to say that our science can ever be value-free or that we should avoid socially relevant issues. The science of psychology does have a lot to offer to the world. However, we need to acknowledge our biases and exercise extreme caution when applying our science to social or political issues. We can pursue our political and personal points of view regarding how to make the world a better place, but (unless we can tie our points of view specifically to a body of solid psychological research) we need to make these pursuits as citizens--not as psychologists.
CHRISTOPHER LYNCH, PHD
I COULDN'T AGREE MORE WITH Alan J. Lewis, PhD, in his letter in the January Monitor. Especially his point on the APA repudiating the extreme political correctness that now pervades its agenda.
Perhaps if the directorship of the APA began to read some of its own articles it might also begin to see the skew that is becoming more and more apparent in the APA's mission and social outlook, particularly the article (also in the January Monitor) covering psychology in Estonia. I think the comment by Juri Allik of Tartu University referring to Soviet thought control within Estonia sums the point up very nicely. It goes like this: "It's almost impossible to imagine the control that the state had on research and teaching."
I wonder when mentioning things like IQ will become a "punishable and criminal act" in this country.
APA and its members should be very careful in the social engineering views it holds, and which it chooses to help enforce through subtle, and some not so subtle, political pressures.
STANLEY L. EDEN, PSYD
THE ARTICLE IN THE DECEMBER Monitor, "Mulling over methods training," while welcome, leaves out a critical and important area in research training for doctoral-level psychologists. The author fails to address the importance of training graduate psychology students in interpretive and constructivist paradigms, which are generally seen to be the foundation of qualitative research methods. Training in qualitative research methodology is of particular relevance to clinical, counseling, personality, community, health and educational psychology and addresses research questions that the positivist paradigm and quantitative methods do not.
We continue to fail our undergraduate and graduate students if we do not teach about the richness and depth that both quantitative and qualitative methods have to offer. A paradigm or a method is not superior to another unless placed in the context of a research question. As a profession we do not help our students ask a broad range of questions because we are limited by the methodologies taught in most psychology departments. Unlike the social sciences of sociology, anthropology and geography, psychology is guided more by the methods it holds sacred than by the research questions it could be asking.
PAUL M. CAMIC
Columbia College, Chicago
Responding to terrorism
AS AN AMERICAN RED CROSS (ARC) instructor and responder, I offer the following clarification to APA's Response to Herbert et al., November Monitor. The Disaster Mental Health Services I (DMHS I) instructor's manual indicates that the purpose of the course is to explore the skills and techniques that are used within the ARC disaster settings, which include crisis intervention, defusing and debriefing, and is not designed to teach clinical or crisis-intervention skills. We do listen, support and educate. Due to shortages of mental health providers, mobilization training has been necessary during devastating incidents. Clinicians can, after taking the two-day DMHS I training, end up on the front lines.
An equally contested topic was "debriefing." In the January Monitor, Jacobs dealt with the term as used in the ARC context. I suspect the comments from Herbert et al. were directed toward the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF), which also coordinated CISM teams dispatched to the Sept. 11 incidents. Avery and Roderick's (1998) article seemed to start the controversy between the believers and nonbelievers of CISM (Mitchell and Everly, 1994) and similar models. Mitchell and Everly responded (1998), suggesting that differences in the research findings were contributed to inconsistencies in design and applications of the debriefing technique. Everly and Boyle (1999) found support of the CISD component as an effective crisis intervention. Deahl et al. (2001) indicated that it is premature to conclude that debriefing is ineffective.
Regardless of the technique or training, there are those who may abuse or misuse their professional expertise. Like emergency first responders, clinicians do spontaneously show up at scenes without invitation or authorization.
Throughout the discussion there was a theme of training needs. Welch (2001) suggested that clinicians can reduce risk, prepare themselves for disaster relief work and deal with stress on the job by taking a lesson from health-care workers. Similarly, Ehlers (2001) emphasized the need to know about incident command systems, who is authorized to respond and hands-on training.
Mental health professionals should have the same basic survival knowledge as emergency first responders. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state emergency management agencies can assist interested individuals. FEMA offers "Emergency Response to Terrorism: Basic Concept" as a self-study or online course. Other appropriate subjects are "Mass Casualties/Fatalities." Disaster relief workers, including mental health clinicians, are affected emotionally. Stress awareness and inoculation training can be helpful (Ursano, 1996; Zoeller, 2001). Systematic training using realistic videos, role-playing, live simulations and briefing prior to entering a situation, develops confidence and lessens the emotional impact on the responders. Training sources include: ICISF, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and National Organization for Victims Assistance. The Center for Mental Health Services offers disaster videos, booklets and pamphlets, many at no charge.
JOHN H. REAM III, MS
ARC/ICISF Responder and Trainer
East Berlin, Pa.