Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Seattle Times Investigation into Abuse by Counselors

The Seattle Times has been running a series on misconduct and abuse charged to professional counsellors. I was surprised to learn that in Washington state a "registered counselor" is simply any person who has filled out an applications , paid the fee, and passed the background check. From then on, a registered counselor can set up shop as a therapist or work in a treatment center. The Seattle Times suggests that there should be more accreditation standards, more similar to that of psychologists and family counselors, because, as it stands, the person who does nails has to undergo more formal training, supervision, and testing. Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that formal education and certified training does not prevent patients from abuse.

Sounds good, except it seems that professional training and accreditation does not seem to prevent misconduct. Psychologists (10 per thousand) and chiropractors (9.8 per thousand) have the highest rate of abuse and nurses the lowest (0.3 per thousand). Registered counselors fall somewhere in the upper middle, and physicians in the lower middle. See the Seattle Times chart.

It seems that the potential for patient abuse is more tied to the type of person who chooses a particular health profession than the actual profession itself. In addition, nurses, while spending more time with an individual patient (possibly 8 hours per day), abuse patients substantially less often than psychologists or chiropractors who spend considerably less time with a individual patient (usually less than one hour a week).

Working against my argument that nurses are inherently better people, is the nature of their work environment. Nurses work as team to take care of patients. Nurses have supervisors and specialists, and they document and check on what they are doing to the patients. Psychologists and chiropractors work alone with patients, and no one checks their notes; at least not until the matter winds up in court.

1 comment:

Steve said...

I would offer the cliche` that crazy people are attracted to the fields like mental health and other soft sciences (or folks myths for Chiropractors), and these are the type of folks you should avoid at all costs.