New Year's Professional Resolutions

By Ofer Zur, Ph.D.

New Year's Resolutions

Following are some proposed New Year’s Professional Resolutions:

I will learn to respectfully say “I disagree” rather than claiming, “It is unethical!” when I differ with colleagues’ ways of doing therapy:

  • I will use critical thinking and contemplation before encouraging a client to file a board complaint just because the former practitioner had a different view of healing than what I believe is helpful.
  • Short of questions concerning sex or intentional harm, I will engage in respectful discourse when I do not agree with another therapist’s attitudes and actions in regard to issues such as gifts, dual relationships, non-sexual touch, home visit, self disclosure, bartering, and other boundary considerations.

I will critically review the DSM-5:

  • I will acknowledge that, as with its predecessor, IV, the DSM-5 is politically and economically motivated and lacks scientific grounding.
  • I will keep in mind that while the DSM can be helpful in understanding clients and in communicating with colleagues, its primary achievement is making billions of dollars for the pharmacological industry and prescribing physicians.
  • I will keep in mind what many experts believe: as with DSM IV, the more any mental disorder can be marketed as treatable with medication (thus profiting the psychopharmacology industry), the more likely it is to be included in the DSM-5. Whereas, others that are more successfully treated with psychotherapy alone, tend to be excluded. Furthermore, normally occurring life experiences are pathologized in order to support the sales of certain medications.

I will do my best, when appropriate, to accommodate clients who prefer to communicate via e-mail, texts, phone, chats or video-conferencing:

  • Within my technological comfort zone, and when appropriate and ethical, I will respect the modern ways clients communicate via digital means.
  • I will do my best to attend to a population’s, such as adolescents and young adults, comfort level with texting and will not judge such practices simply because I do not feel comfortable with them.
  • I will realize that telemental health is one of the most significant changes of our time and that not only is it here to stay, but will become one of the most common modalities for providing mental health services to future generations.

I will not pathologize people with atypical neurological brain architecture, such as autism, and I will support others to do the same.

  • For Autistic persons in my practice, I will treat the presenting issues, not attempt to ‘cure’ the autism.
  • I will refer to Autistic people, rather than people “with autism”, since autism is not a disease.
  • I will educate myself on neurodiversity and the variance among neurological makeups that is normal and adaptive.

I resolve to work with less fear of attorneys, licensing boards and lawsuits and with more clinical and ethical integrity.

  • I am committed to identifying the difference between rigid or fear-based risk management practices and ethical risk management that is based on client care and clinical integrity.

I resolve to stand up in protest against pediatricians and mental health professionals who, inappropriately, diagnose one and two year-olds with ADHD or Bipolar disorder and then medicate them.

  • I will demand proof from longitudinal studies regarding the risk/benefit ratio of using such dangerous chemical interventions in children of all ages.
  • I will do what I can to protect helpless children by providing parents, clinicians and the public with information regarding the potential harm that some medications may cause as well as whether or not such medications have been approved by the FDA to be used with children.

I resolve to use the PTSD diagnosis not simply when a client lives through a stressful situation or feels ‘wronged’, but only when the situation meets the DSM criteria.

  • I will remember that the DSM diagnosis for PTSD reads: “the person has experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others.”
  • I will not use the PTSD diagnosis in situations when clients simply have hurt feelings, resentment, or anger and feel anxious when discussing the situation.

I resolve to do my best to get out from under the control of managed care companies and develop my own fee-for-service private practice outside managed care, if I have not done so already.

  • I will develop, or have someone develop, a professional web site for my practice.
  • I will learn, or hire someone, to do social network marketing.
  • I will pursue developing a fee-for-service private practice, as this will assist me in treating my clients according to their needs and wishes rather than carrying out treatments according to profit-motivated insurance companies’ protocols.
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