From “The relationship between counselor licensure and aspects of empowerment” (Research).
Publication: Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 01-JUL-02
Another irony is that the effectiveness of counselors and therapists is not dependent on school, training, or theory, but on personal characteristics of the therapist (Goldfried, Greenberg, & Marmar 1990; Hanna & Ottens, 1995; Whiston & Sexton, 1993). Lazarus (1989) also noted that great therapists are not unique to any single profession. Perhaps the greatest irony is that professional therapists are no more effective than paraprofessionals with 15 to 20 clock hours of training (Christensen & Jacobson, 1994). A meta-analysis by Hattle, Sharpley, and Rogers (1984) compared the effectiveness of paraprofessionals with that of professionals (psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers). Their conclusion based on 154 effect sizes was that "paraprofessionals are at least as effective, and in many instances more effective" (p. 540) than professionals. Education and years of professional experience were not significant. Is there something to learn here? Perhaps it is time for accrediting bodies such as APA and CACREP to review their standards so as to promote greater effectiveness and more positive outcome (see Peterson, 1995).
Maureen O' Hara, Ph.D
IN the flap over managed care it is easy to forget that over 40 million Americans have no health care benefits, and many who do have a laughably tiny mental health benefit. Already, a large number of people do not use insurance for psychological care. Many of these people turn to a parallel community, the therapeutic counter-culture, which is an informal network of licensed and non-licensed practitioners, growth centers, and institutions which offer psychologically oriented services to eager consumers with no help from insurance payments and no need for a diagnosis.
AHP conferences are a popular stop on the mental health underground. Many consumers freely state that they prefer non-licensed people because they treat them holistically and do not reduce their suffering to a list of symptoms and diagnostic categories. These consumers want therapists who will see them as whole persons with whole lives. If they can get that from licensed practitioners, they will; but if not, they will seek such services elsewhere.
IN these radical times there is great need for radical thinking about how best to speak to the psycho-spiritual, relational, and community needs of a population caught up in psychologically disorienting times. We can be sure that the public will continue to want such services, and that less and less will be available through the mental health benefits. They will be shopping in the marketplace.
This would be a very good moment to "reinvent" the human potential movement and create a new psychological profession which speaks directly to a nonmedical personal growth and emancipation agenda. But if we are not to betray a public who is willing to trust us as teachers, facilitators, and therapists, this time we must face the issue of accountability, training, and quality control.
We need a new human service profession which sits at the intersection of mental health practice, education, human resource training, consciousness training, and pastoral care, and which explicitly and directly addresses the non-pathological, growth-focused psycho-spiritual and existential interests of individuals, families, and communities. Such a profession should have its own unique interdisciplinary curriculum and create an entirely new discourse - one which is not medicine, not social work, not academia, not religion, not the arts, not entertainment, and not sports and recreation, but which has aspects drawn from the best of all of these traditions.