GoodTherapy.org was born out of the desire to reduce harm to consumers of therapy. The more training, consultation, and personal work therapists do, the less likely clients will suffer an abuse of power or a boundary crossing. Although there are many healthy and conscious therapists providing safe and ethical psychotherapy services, there unfortunately remains a large number of therapists who unknowingly cause harm to their clients, often as a result of the therapist getting their own emotional needs met at the expense of a client.
In the short 2.5 years GoodTherapy.org has been present on the web our association has made great strides in advocating for healthy therapy and reducing harm. By providing a wealth of information to the public about psychotherapy and making the process of psychotherapy less mysterious to non-professionals, we’ve helped millions of people to become better equipped to start therapy and to evaluate the quality of therapy they are already receiving. So, we’ve made a dent and we’re happy about. Yet, there’s more our organization wants to do.
One very large issue we’re considering tackling is the quality of state licensing requirements. Although in recent years we have seen most State Licensing Boards increase and improve the quantity and quality of specific licensing requirements across most professions, one thing that has been entirely absent in licensing requirements, to our knowledge, is the expectation that therapists do their own therapy. The one exception to this is the State of California, which encourages trainees to do their own therapy by allowing every hour of therapy to count toward three units of required supervision. However, it is still possible for a therapist in the United States to be licensed and in practice without ever having been a therapy client. This is something we’d like to see change. We know from experience that many of the best therapists are good at what they do because they have tended their own wounds, overcome their own obstacles, and learned a lot about what it takes to provide healthy therapy from their own experience being a client.
Although this is potentially a controversial issue bound to upset some therapists who don’t want another licensing requirement or expense, a tremendous 87% of members surveyed in our last poll supported such a change. Nonetheless, we recognize that there are some potential pitfalls and concerns, such as confidentiality, documentation processes, and issues related to free-will, autonomy, and the right to refuse services. All of these issues and others need to be addressed before taking such a petition to the State level. This is where we need your help. There are two ways you could help GoodTherapy.org begin to consider taking action toward such a change. First, please consider taking a few minutes to let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment to this blog post. Second, let us know if you’re interested in more information and applying to serve on the board we’ll be forming to research the viability for this potential change.
Thanks again to all of you who have expressed your support for this movement and to those of you who have raised objections. We hope you will join us in improving the quality of services across mental health professions and reducing the potential for harm.
Noah Rubinstein, LMFT
Founder and CEO
© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.