When they sound too good to be true

I read something today that made me very uncomfortable.  It was an announcement regarding someone offering classes at a Pagan-friendly store, who referred to themselves as a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience.  That wasn’t what made me uncomfortable.  The problem occurred after my initial response of “oh a colleague!”   I wanted to find out more about them, and the best way to do so was to google their name, or try the state licensure website in case the individual had a license.

  What did I find?  A disciplinary action regarding numerous ethical violations and an individual who hadn’t been licensed for over 12 years.

First off, let me set the record straight on a few things.  I don’t have an issue with the term psychotherapist, as it’s a term describing an individual who provides some type of counseling.  The problem lies in the fact that this isn’t a specific title or license type and can be very misleading to people who aren’t familiar with the training and licensing of individuals who provide professional counseling.

Therapy (in regards to mental health) can only be provided by someone who has met specific educational, testing, and licensing standards.  Typically this means a Masters degree, successful completion of exams, and regular licensure through their state.  Therapy would be provided to someone with mental health problems ranging from anxiety and depression to schizophrenia.

Counseling can be provided by an untrained individual, and would only concern general issues and life-stressors.  If the individual referred to themselves as a “Professional counselor,” I would hope to see proof of licensure.

The term psychotherapist can be misleading, as it contains the word therapist.  Licensed and unlicensed individuals utilize this term

My concern is that there are many people in and out of the Pagan community who present themselves as some type of professional, when the reality may be that they are not.  My hope would be that everyone would use common-sense and their intuition to check-out someone rather than blindly believing what they hear or see.   Check the facts, look at credentials, ask around, ask your priest/ess, ask a friend.   Things might be too good to be true.

There are plenty of people who talk a good talk, put on a good show, or present themselves in a professional manner. This doesn’t mean they’re qualified, ethical, or what they say they are. Check them out, as doing so is a form of self-care.

If you want to find out if the person providing you with a service is actually qualified to do so, check with your state’s licensing bureau.  Here in Maine that can be found at the following website:  http://www.maine.gov/pfr/professionallicensing/index.shtml.  This website would cover any profession that requires a license or registration, such as massage therapist, mental health therapist, pastoral counselor, medical provider, or even acupuncturist.  If you’re seeing someone who utilizes these titles, and they don’t have a license, there’s a problem.

If you want to check out someone who states they’re a counselor, go here http://pfr.informe.org/almsonline/almsquery/welcome.aspx  and fill in the info. 

If you struggle with any of these links, feel free to email me.