Transforming mental health professions in the USA

December 2009

Dr. James H. Bray, current president of the American Psychological Association has been leading a task force on “transforming psychology practice to meet the demands of a new world.” As reported in Monitor on Psychology of October 2009, the recommended changes are wide ranging and likely to shape the future of various caregiving specialties including psychology, coaching and counselling.

  • We need to develop evidence-based treatment guidelines and practices that have been demonstrated to work. Practitioners, including coaches, should be able to show empirically that their methods are effective.
  • There is a need for integrated health care so that mental health and medical professionals work in partnerships.
  • Technology needs to be more integrated into practice.
  • Professions need to address mobility and licensure issues. We are hindered by a lack of consistent standards and by licensing differences between states, provinces and countries so that practitioners can’t move from one location to live and practice in another.
  • Training needs to be updated, moving beyond “fading ways of doing things” and keeping aware of current and emerging trends.
  • There can be value in multidisciplinary research.
  • We need to expand the focus of our practices. Mental health professions can do a lot more than therapy. Psychological principles apply to behavior changes that impact business, education, health-care reform, prevention of lifestyle problems, international relations, and other social issues.

All of this can be challenging and exciting for those among us who are creative, innovative and forward looking. In contrast, most practitioners, including coaches, are more devoted to sticking with their specialties and refining what they do best. Wherever we work, however, there can be value in pulling away at times to evaluate where our professions are going and how they can keep relevant to cultural change. Jesus was devoted to transforming lives and we, too, are in the life-transforming business. Maybe we need to expand our horizons periodically to consider how our caregiving, our professions, our ministries and our own lives need to be transformed as well.

– From Gary Collins Newsletter no 356, 5 November 2009


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