Requirements for accrediting and licensure for the mental health professions is considerably strict in many parts of the world, but Australia is a country in which therapy and counseling are self-regulated industries. The lack of a central agency or set of standards to ensure quality of treatment has come under fire by many in the community, and the push for serious reforms has become stronger still today as a coroner’s report details the involvement of a self-help course in the eventual suicide of a woman in Sydney.
The incident, which occurred four years ago, was suspected by many as having a direct relationship to a course entitled “The Turning Point,” in which the victim participated over a four-day period prior to her death. The course was operated by a computer science professional with no formal licensing or qualifications in the field of mental health, and the company’s director was the possessor of a degree in business administration. Investigators in the case pointed to the use of childhood regressive therapy in the course, which is believed to have led to the victim’s erratic and childlike behavior expressed in the days and hours before her death. The victim placed a call to the company the night before committing suicide, and supporters of tighter industry regulation argue that without proper training or experience, the company did not recognize the move as a call for help, and failed to assist the victim in locating care.
As efforts to incorporate greater controls over the mental health industries in Australia continues, other areas with relaxed views on regulation may approach their laws with a fresh perspective after exploring the details of the case.
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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