Why I no longer wish to identify as a mental health practitioner

After 25 years as a practicing mental health professional in multiple capacities, I have decided that I no longer wish to operate in that system. Therefore, I am abandoning the therapist identity and the culture that goes with it in order to adopt an alternative professional role that can best be captured as a guide, coach, counselor, or mentor. Consequently, I will be operating outside of what has become a repressive and intrusive mental health culture and regulatory environment that is getting worse every day. This will allow me to practice with the professional freedom that gives my clients the best chance of success and does not compromise my values. I hope my example shines the way for others to follow.

I am in values conflict in the following areas:

  • I am tired of having to put a label on someone in order to be paid to help them.
  • I do not like having to compromise my strengths-based and systems philosophies in order to play in the pathology-based medical/mental health system.
  • I believe the over-medication of America, and especially America’s children, is a national scandal that I do not wish to support by associating with it in any way.
  • I believe the pathology-based assessment and treatment planning documentation requirements that many of us are subjected to in agency settings, are draconian, anti-therapeutic, and immoral.
  • I am alarmed by the recent disclosures of massive governmental intrusions on patient privacy and believe I am complicit in harming my clients by subjecting them to those abuses via their relationship with me.
  • I believe progress notes that therapists are required to do, harm clients more often than they help them.
  • I believe the mental health system will continue to deteriorate as the Affordable Care Law is implemented.

In my new coaching role I will function similarly as I have in my role as a military and family life counselor for these past five years. This is a professional role that has been sanctioned by the Department of Defense, and thus has the full support of the United States government. In that capacity I help service-members and their families solve problems and seek solutions without intervening in mental health situations. As importantly, in order to protect the privacy of service-members and their families, we keep no progress notes and we write nothing down that could compromise personally identifiable information. If it is good for the military it is good for all American citizens.

Nothing bad has happened to me that has lead me to this action. This is a voluntary decision that will simply allow me to be more congruent with my values in my professional life. I am tired of going along to get along. Many senior practitioners of mental health services have already taken this step. My hope is that others will follow as more and more professionals abandon a mental health system that is broken and increasingly uncompromising.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. I was struck by your post, it stayed with me. I congratulate you as a fellow clinician in the Netherland with 23 years experience working in this field, for your courage, strength and integrity. Clinical practice needs a change, but not the one politics think up. It needs change from within, we as mental health professionals care for others but have been boxed in more and more in the last 10 years. We need to learn to take better care of our profession and of ourselves.

    Reply

  2. Thank you. I don’t wish to assume that the US system is representative of what is happening elsewhere. But I am glad you resonated with my blog. I have been frustrated for years. I agree, we have to fix it because the regulators never can or will. It will take citizen action.

    Reply

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