Professional Equivalent

The foremost weakness in our present-day mental health industry, besides our overdependence on drugs as the primary source of mental health mediation, is the numbers of paraprofessionals who are treating not only the walking worried, but people who are far more gravely ill. 

People have an expectation and a right to excellence from those who claim the role of social worker, clinical counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist and the like.  People in need of mental health mediation, however, are not even coming close to meeting that expectation.

In the field of mental health, unlike other professions whose members are expected to meet a training standard before services can be reliably provided, there is a creature known as a professional equivalent

Normally the professional equivalent to the social worker and clinical counselor is a person who majored, as an undergraduate, in some topic that, shortly after graduating, lead straight back into a career field that was similar to the one they had prior to spending thousands of dollars on their undergraduate degree, i.e., sociology, psychology, anthropology or religion.  Mind you, there are no professional equivalents in law, dentistry, chiropractic or medicine.  Yet the professional equivalent to the clinical mental health counselor and social worker runs rampant within the field of mental health.

Often these stragglers, these poor misinformed and misguided students, will pursue a graduate degree in an area that may prove more useful later on.  Many, however, will be absorbed into the profession of child protection (and call themselves social workers) or community mental health services (and call themselves counselors); thereby creating the impression in the minds of their clients and others that they are trained social workers or clinical counselors, and not the paraprofessionals and nonprofessionals they truly are. 

Simply because someone says they are a social worker or a counselor does not mean they are trained in that field.  In fact, it has been my experience that a person who identifies h/erself as a social worker or a counselor is, in fact, neither. 

This well-tuned process of hoodwinking the unsuspecting public not only debases my profession, but provides fodder for the numbers of stereotypes we encounter in the world of human service. 

Social workers steal children from well-meaning, misunderstood parents. 

Therapist listen and their clients talk. 

Counselors give advice and are responsible for changing lives.

This whole process, of course, is nothing more than a money-saving device.  Most often used by mental health organizations, it is a way of increasing reimbursement for services that are provided by minimally trained or not-trained-at-all therapists.  For, if anyone can be a therapist, a social worker or a clinical counselor (and no one is likely to ask questions), why not hire a desperate recent college graduate and pay them minimum wage, rather than a licensed and trained practitioner and pay them something more competitive?

I would suggest that my reader ask questions and expect answers from those who would claim to be trained to help you resolve your problems and achieve your goals – especially where your children are concerned.  Often you will be surprised to find that the person with whom you plan to share the intimate details of your life is no more likely to help you with that than your next-door neighbor is likely to help remove your tonsils.


3 responses

  1. Bravo Dr Michael! I work with these para-professionals. Some who do not even have the benefit of raising their own children yet they claim to know best for my kids. I beg to differ. I’d much rather be in a courtroom debating a para-professional “Social Worker” who has some basic hands on experience with children than the text book answers learned in school.
    These people who steal my clients from their” really messed up in the family courts parents” have no more common sense about what is best for a child’s welfare than that great big scary bear in your image above.

    I am one that is not so enamored by someone’s attempt to be a professional expert, or their playing of one.

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