web analytics
October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Why A Licensed Professional

The recent conviction of an unlicensed therapist in one of our communities has led to serious soul searching on the part of some and confusion for many others. The most strident argument of his supporters is that he was convicted without proof; that the accuser made up the story to get back at her community and directed her anger at this amateur counselor.

That argument is false on at least two counts. First, it is a fact, admitted by him, that he was practicing without a license – that alone may be sufficient grounds for criminal prosecution. But, second, and even more glaring is that he admitted to locking the door to his consultation room when alone with a minor of the opposite sex who could not give legal consent.

There were other charges, over 55 of them, and he was found guilty on all counts. Surely there will be appeals and some significant legal wrangling. Still, his admission that he did what no licensed professional therapist would do should give his supporters pause.

We want to trust our rabbonim and the administrations of the schools where we choose to send our children, but this case is causing well intentioned people to reevaluate what they have believed is the best way to assess and treat behavioral, emotional and psychological problems, especially in children. The core issue is reliance on an “eytzah gebber,” someone who does not have a license and has questionable, if any, type of formal training but is put in the position of someone the community refers people needing mental health services to. The primary reason for not seeking out a well trained psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker: frum people only trust their own types. And there are justifications for this thought process. They include statements like – unlicensed eytzah gebbers can get training, they can read up on the issues, they understand the community better, they can identify with Torah true values, and most professional therapists are menuvalim or apikorsim and so on. These “reasons” are nothing more than pretexts used by individuals who would rather operate outside the scrutiny of professional and governmental regulators.

In recent conversations with colleagues it has become clear that unlicensed, amateur mental health advisors tend to do a significant amount of harm to those they are attempting to counsel – and that there is very little recourse for the person who has been hurt by someone who is unlicensed.

Being licensed means that the individual has met the most basic standards for practice in his or her profession. This includes having had training in the field, supervision, an understanding of the need for continued professional education, substantial training in ethics and an acknowledgment that there is a professional board that will regulate, oversee and discipline that individual if he or she does not follow required standards. Not only can one be stripped of a license for violating professional and ethical standards, there may also be a fine and jail time. These regulations are very strictly enforced.

This is the strongest argument for accountability. We seek a hashgacha for our food – that is a desire for accountability, and it is the same simple standard that should apply to core mental health issues as well.

The debate or fear that a licensed therapist will somehow attempt to manipulate the vulnerable client away from Yiddishkeit is also a paper tiger. All licensed therapists are required to attain a degree of cultural competency with their patients. That means they must understand the cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds of the people they treat and respect their beliefs. If a licensed professional is not able to do so, it is expected that the patient will be referred to someone who can. There is so much misplaced fear about non-Jewish and non-frum therapists and the harm they can cause. And today, there are many highly trained and very professional licensed mental health specialists who are frum, understanding and eager to help. They are not difficult to find and are ready and willing to meet the community’s needs.

Many rabbonim understand when a professional, well-trained and licensed provider should be contacted and others who would greatly benefit from meeting with them so that a degree of trust can be developed and a working relationship begun.

About the Author: Dr. Michael J. Salamon is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the author of numerous articles and books, most recently “Abuse in the Jewish Community” (Urim Publications).


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Why A Licensed Professional”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Abu Usamah Somali, thought to be Farah Mohammed Shirdon of Calgary, Alberta in Canada.
Canadian ISIS Fighter Threatens to Behead Netanyahu [video]
Latest Indepth Stories
terrorists

Is the global community clear in its response to these extremist groups?

obama

Like our fabled character, Don Quixote, President Obama has constantly spawned his own reality.

Ayatollah Hossein-Kazamani Boroujerdi, in better times (left) and in his prison cell (right).

Boroujerdi was informed that “the pressures and tortures will increase until he has been destroyed.”

Senior Hamas and Fatah leaders in Gaza City on April 22. Hamas and Fatah signed a deal to establish a unity government, but since then little progress has been made.

Fatah: Hamas stole relief aid for Gaza and distributed it amongst its followers in mosques.

Can teenagers seriously be expected to behave properly when they are surrounded by so much suggestive material? Is it fair to expose them (and ourselves) to so much temptation and then tell them, “Just say no”?

Washington remains ignorant of the need to dismantle alliances with various Muslim countries.

Defeating IS requires bombing its strongholds and recognizing the violent nature of Islam.

Abbas again used the UN to attack Israel, distort history, and undermine prospects for peace.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority cannot even agree to move their clocks back on the same day.

Shemita is about relating to each other by temporarily eliminating gaps of wealth power & status

David transcended adversity to become a leader; Who are we to make excuses for a lack of greatness?

sympathy: Feeling sorrow or pity for another’s tribulations; Empathy:sharing an emotional experience

Last week the president announced a four-point plan. Unfortunately, there’s little buy-in from our European and Middle Eastern allies. Here’s my own four-point plan that may be more palatable to our allies.

Rosh Hashanah has an obvious connection to God’s Kingship. We constantly refer to Him during the Asseres Yemei Teshuvah as Melech/King. The nusach of the tefillah, referring to Rosh Hashanah as “a remembrance of the first day” (of Creation), implies a certain dimension of divine kingship operating at the time of Creation and replicated every […]

Yes, God judges, but His judgment is that of a loving father who longs for his child’s quick return.

Anti-Semitism has returned to the mainstream of European society and Israel has become its focus.

More Articles from Dr. Michael J. Salamon
Power-of-empathy-113013

sympathy: Feeling sorrow or pity for another’s tribulations; Empathy:sharing an emotional experience

child abuse

Healing requires that the victim be validated for being harmed and the guilty assume responsibility.

The recent conviction of an unlicensed therapist in one of our communities has led to serious soul searching on the part of some and confusion for many others. The most strident argument of his supporters is that he was convicted without proof; that the accuser made up the story to get back at her community and directed her anger at this amateur counselor.

Mental health specialists tend to speak about their patients according to a classification referred to as the DSM, which stands for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This classification system was first published in 1952 by the American Psychiatric Association as a method to classify mental disorders and develop a statistical baseline through which disorders can be understood, studied and treated. It is not the only classification system available.

The New York Times got it right. In an editorial published on Thursday May 19, the Times castigated the Vatican for issuing “flimsy guidelines” for combating the sexual abuse of children by the clerical hierarchy.

We may not want to accept it, but abuse occurs everywhere, even in our own communities. The effects of abuse are devastating and long lasting – not only on those individuals who are abused but on their families as well. Even one act of abuse against a person, regardless of age, can have a significantly negative impact that may last a lifetime.

Did you hear the speech President Obama delivered in Cairo week before last? I don’t mean just the words but the sound, the tone, the delivery – the way he actually articulated his sentences, the cadences, the pauses and the breaks for applause.

I am a child of the ‘60s. I learned to play guitar to music from the Rabbis’ Sons, Shlomo Carlebach and Lennon and McCartney. When we had a kumsitz at our youth functions we would intersperse Simon and Garfunkel music with songs from the Six-Day War. In 1970 I accompanied Rabbi Carlebach when he played an impromptu concert at Zion Square in Jerusalem.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/why-a-licensed-professional/2013/01/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: