Lack of Scientific Training

by Fred Pauser January 26 at 4:11pm

Hi Jeanett,  First, I want you to know I’m on your side. You were a victim of Recovered Memory Therapy who has come to see the truth. What you have to say on the matter is important.

Thanks for the recommendation of Mistakes Were Made, by Carol Tavris. She is a *scientific* psychologist, unlike many psychiatrists, and unlike all recovered memory therapists. I have read two of her books: The Mismeasure of Woman, and, Anger. Both very excellent books, Carol is terrific! I had already purchased Mistakes Were Made some time ago, but it has been sitting here unread — if I had realized that it has so much about recovered memory therapy in it I would have read it long ago. Due to your hint, I read the pertinent section today (pp. 93-126).

In regard to your comment about therapists being able to get credentials in a weekend: I see where you may have picked that up. Carol alluded to a weekend course that individuals passing themselves off as lawyers may take (p. 103). She then implies that something similar occurs in clinical psychology. In 1995 I was living in Seattle. At that time anyone could obtain a business license at city hall and then put out a shingle calling themselves a psychotherapist. David Calof was one such “therapist” — a recovered memory therapist with NO college degrees. He also published a magazine for “professional therapists” called Treating Abuse Today, a real pseudoscientific rag. I happened to get a copy from a therapist friend. Since I was already science minded, I could easily see that it was full of nonsense. I came to know some of the falsely accused parents in Seattle including Chuck Noah who used to actually picket the offices of certain therapists with signs. That’s how I got involved fighting recovered memory therapy and associated extensions. I did not picket, but, for example, I wrote an article exposing the nonsensical nature of certain of Calof’s articles in Treating Abuse Today.

In the state of Washington the time when one can do as Calof did, has long passed. Heavy credentials are required to practice there as a clinical psychologist. In many states I think a Ph.D is required (or an MD for psychiatry). I think that these days a person would be taking a big chance trying to practice psychotherapy with false of no credentials — certainly in NJ. I did a quick search on the internet to see if there are any states that do NOT require certification and heavy education requirements, and did not come up with any, but my search was superficial — maybe there are such states (but I doubt it nowadays).

The movie, “Sybil,” came out in 1976. I’m a bit off to say that recovered memories and multiple personalities “took off” after that. I should say they *started* to take off after that, but I guess did not really become pervasive until the mid or late 80s.

I am quite surprised that you did not acknowledge that one of the basic causes of the fiasco of recovered memory therapy is a *lack of scientific training.* Carol really emphasizes that in her book. Even in the case of psychiatrists, who she says, “still learn almost nothing about psychology or about the questioning, skeptical essence of science” (p. 103). Psychiatrists learn Freudian psychoanalysis, which unfortunately is pretty unscientific. And clinical psychologists are also given a pass on scientific training in college, Tavris points out. And I hasten to add, Carol does not get much into the reasons for that. I submit it has to do with the pervasiveness of the philosophy/ideology of *Postmodernism* in academia during the 70s-90s at least. There are several dovetailing causes behind the advent and phenomenon of recovered memory therapy/multiple personalities.

Another contributing factor was the influence of the feminist movement. As Carol pointed out, clinicians such a feminist Judith Herman felt they “were doing important work raising public awareness of rape, child abuse, incest, and domestic violence” (p.120). For more insight about the effects of feminism on psychotherapy, I suggest Christina Hoff Sommer’s excellent book, Who Stole Feminism.

The biggest cause behind the whole mess is the lack of training in science and scientific methodology. As Carol points out, even those with all the required degrees and proper certification may lack it. I suggest that scientific training for clinical psychologists/psychotherapists and psychiatrists is of the utmost importance!!

Reprinted by permission from my Facebook page: Jeanette Bartha

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  1. Fred Pauser

     /  02/11/2011

    In my letter to Jeanette, I said that David Calof had no college degrees (as of 1995). I got that information in ’95 from people I trusted, and in my research of Calof’s magazine, “Treating Abuse Today,” I found nothing to contradict that. However, I can only say that it was alleged that he had no college degrees since I have no actual evidence that he did not possess one or more degrees.

    Today he is David L Calof, D.A.P.A. Those letters apparently stand for “Diplomate of the American Psychotherapy Association.” In 1995 I never saw him use any letters after his name. If my recent information is correct, the American Psychotherapy Association was not in existence at that time.


  2. Fred Pauser

     /  02/11/2011

    In my letter to Jeanette, I said that David Calof had no college degrees (as of 1995). I got that information in ’95 from people I trusted, and in my research of Calof’s magazine, “Treating Abuse Today,” I found nothing to contradict that. However, I can only say that it was alleged that he had no college degrees since I have no actual evidence that he did not possess one or more degrees.

    Today he is David L Calof, D.A.P.A. Those letters apparently stand for “Diplomate of the American Psychotherapy Association.” In 1995 I never saw him use any letters after his name. If my recent information is correct, the American Psychotherapy Association was not in existence at that time.


    • How scientifically oriented is a “Diplomate” from an association with a focus on psychotherapy only? I question whether or not this Association covers a wide view of the profession


    • @ Fred. This if from the American Psychotherapy Association website:

      To be a Diplomate you need: 1) to already have a master’s degree 2) 4 years of being a therapist 3) be “encouraged” to get 15 continuing education credits. I assume you need a few dollars to pay for the privilege too.

      Their website states: “The American Psychotherapy Association was formed to provide credentialing, standards of practice, professional identity, and self-regulation for the psychotherapy profession.

      The American Psychotherapy Association’s goal is to improve the public perception of psychotherapy. In recent years, the psychotherapeutic process has been devalued by insurance companies, the court system, and other professional membership associations.”

      So, what is a “Diplomate” a master’s level therapist with an eye on promoting their profession through insurance coverage and to be recognized by the courts.

      Big deal. We can see how they repeatedly failed to on both the standards of practice and self-regulation. They seemed to have succeeded in winning over insurance companies.

      Again, remember that a title, a jumble of letters after someone’s name, can mean nothing.


  3. Therapy Abuse Victim

     /  02/05/2011

    I feel these particular exchanges bring up extremely important issues and questions. I was grateful to see that Monica Pignotti has added her valuable perspectives. I extend to each of you my appreciation, and also my sorrow for the damaging experiences you have had. I have come to believe that the public needs to be made much more aware, about some problems in the largely unpoliced psychotherapy industry.

    I suggest that these dangerous problems include:

    the lack of consumer protection (licensure boards exist primarily to promote and to protect the licensees, not the clients–there is essentially nowhere for clients to turn when damaged by a “therapist”–unless a given case is sufficiently interesting and documented for litigation to be an option);

    gross failure of ethical standards to be enforced;

    essentially total immunity of social worker “therapists” from any policing of professional conduct (not even the facade of an “ethics board” exists for the protection of client victims of social worker “therapists;”

    overuse of the DSM in an effort to follow a medical model and to “diagnose” (= label) and damage vulnerable clients despite the book’s inherent lack of sound empirically validated standards for diagnosis;

    the seemingly covert agenda of “dissociationist therapists” to reduce victims of traumatic experiences to “parts”;

    insidious connection between ISSTD and EMDRIA, and between the use of EMDR (empirically nothing more than a shamefully economically successful version of cognitive-behavioral exposure therapy) and the “diagnosing” of “dissociative disorder” by secretive, “dissociationists” claiming to potential new clients to be “trauma therapists,” but with cult-like devotion to finding or making “parts”

    and perhaps, most importantly, the lack of sound empirical evidence for the “dissociative” diagnoses, particularly DDNOS and DID–diagnoses which are severely damaging

    These issues must be EXPOSED in litigation, via legislative efforts, and, for the sake of protecting the public, in the MASS MEDIA, because critically important articles or chapters in academically-oriented journals and books have not served to enlighten and warn the public about the very dangerous state of the psychotherapy industry TODAY

    What do the discussion participants think about this issue (adequately and dramatically warning the public; protecting, rather than blaming the victims of unethical, pseudoscientific “treatment” by therapists)?


    • @peg8484. I’d add something else: the “old boys club.” During the ‘discovery’ phase of litigation against the psychiatrist and hospital, there were many, many people from the hospital that were deposed for testimony (pre-trial statements done under oath) and many more who call my lawyer offering information.

      There was only one nurse willing to testify on my behalf. She was warned by her colleagues that doing so would ruin her ability to continue working in the field. She didn’t care at the time – she was not only horrified at what she witnessed happening to me, but was one of 3 other nurses who filed a formal complaint to the head of administration at the hospital.

      Nothing came of the complaint. When the hospital administrator and the doctor were asked if any complaints were made, they denied it. Lies. Furthermore, the hospital barred us from requesting all documents regarding the psychiatrist. Denied access. They said that if they made these records public, it would deter others from making complaints.

      Of course we knew the document existed. But the “old boys club” was going to hold on tight until the courts forced the door open. We settled 2 days before trial, so we never had access to the document.


      • And, during depositions, I learned that the pharmacy at the hospital continually questioned the use of certain drugs and the high amounts that the psychiatrist requested, and obtained. Again, they didn’t care enough to stop him – or, they made a complaint to the administration which again, went into the ‘old boys’ file.


  4. Fred: In response to your question about why more clinical psychologists are not more interested in science and why they don’t join the APS, part of it might have to do with the type of doctoral training they received. Many people are not aware that there are actually two types of doctoral degrees in psychology, both making recipients eligible to become licensed clinical psychologist: the PhD and the PsyD. The PsyD degree is much less research oriented than the PhD in clinical psychology. PsyD programs are often offered in non-university based freestanding schools of psychology and these schools accept far more applicants than PhD clinical psychology programs do, which are extremely difficult to get into. Moreover, not all the PhD psychology grads go into practice — many become academics. What this all adds up to is that many licensed clinical psychologists who are practicing are holders of the much less research oriented PsyD degree. In some of these programs, they didn’t even have to write a dissertation, so what we have are people practicing with highly deficient backgrounds in how to scientifically evaluate an intervention.

    In addition to that, there has been a great deal of push back against evidence-based practice by those who are arguing that all “bona fide” therapy (a loaded term) is equally good and it is the therapeutic relationship that counts. This has also contributed to the de-emphasis on science.

    Regarding licensure although yes, I would agree it is important and necessary, even if we were to take away all the unlicensed practitioners, we would still have a big problem at all levels as there are licensed psychologists practicing who appear to have very poor scientific backgrounds and as Carol Tavris pointed out in her recent book, Mistakes Were Made But Not By Me, psychiatric training is also often very authority based and consists of taking instruction from a supervisor, rather than really training them to evaluate evidence. What we are left with is a profession full of people who have very little understanding of the scientific method and many of those people appear to be sitting on state boards who do not act on complaints. If there is to be change, I believe the movement needs to be grass roots and come from the consumers because time and time again, I have seen that this is a profession which all too often will not regulate itself.


    • I had a therapist in Boulder, Colorado who came unglued during the course of my treatment. She began yelling at me with great regularity. I thought her behavior was important enough to report to the licensing board. But, knowing the complaint would be a “she said she said” matter, I reported her for failure to release requested medical records.

      During her review by the board, she must have spent hours going back to her college days listing her vitae for over 20 years as if her credentials, rather than her unethical behavior, should be judged.


    • Fred Pauser

       /  02/03/2011

      Monica: This does help me to understand the situation. I have been researching this question and have become partially aware of some of your points, but you have significantly improved my understanding — thank you so much!

      Well, I’m about as grass roots as one can get. I started therapy in 1971, was in and out repeatedly and quit in 1988. At that point I had tried various approaches and had experienced dozens of different therapists, and finally decided that the entire field of psychotherapy seemed not up to dealing with my problems. I continued to study human nature (not “psychology” per se) on my own, and the more I learned, the more appalled I became at some of what was happening in clinical psychology. After working as an activist in opposition to the recovered memory nonsense for about 2 years in the mid 90s, I went on to other things, but recently have been again looking into where things stand in the world of psychology.

      QUESTION: At a deeper level as to the causes of low regard for scientific thinking in clinical psychology, I am putting forth the hypothesis that the “postmodern” philosophy is a root cause. It has apparently swept through and influenced virtually all of academia to some extent during the latter half of the 20th century. Essentially the message of postmodernism in a nutshell appears to be that all truth is *subjective,* everyone has their own truth, and there are many ways of knowing. Years of thinking along this line has chipped away at respect for science and scientific methodology, and enabled the development of silly approaches. Do you think this hypothesis has some validity?

      John Ioannidis said:
      “The scientific enterprise is probably the most fantastic achievement in human history…”

      WHAT IS OUR PURPOSE IN LIFE? I believe basically it is to strive, in some way, to make the world better place — to contribute toward advancing knowledge and capabilities, and to work toward greater cooperation and love.


      • @Fred. The reason for disregarding scientific thinking? Laziness, soft minds, and an uncaring attitude and respect for the field of psychology, reduced awareness of patient care and a disregard towards the families they tear apart. and… drum roll here… quick and steady income – in addition to perceived notoriety and special regard. The public is unaware that Dr. so-and-so could have received her “education” and credentials online and never set foot in a classroom or never been subjected to practical teaching. Hypnotherapists can get credentials in one weekend.

        When people are in pain and desperate for help and in a vulnerable state, they are less likely to do a background check on their potential medical or mental health providers. When a caring and empathic “therapist” is found, the feelings of relief can easily override rational thinking.

        On my Facebook page, I have a section called: Psychiatric Nonsense @ Noon. (am moving it here too). I post all kinds of wacky “therapies” offered by people, credentialed or not, who seem to want to make a name for themselves by coining a new psychological phrase or theory. They trademark, copyright, and register everything. Some call their business “Institute of” or “International” something or other. The words they choose don’t fool me, but fool and confuse many mental health consumers who think an “Institute” has validity and credentials when it simply may not be so.


    • Monica, your experiences and insights are most helpful – from the inside out. We need to learn more about the issues you raise. Thank you.



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