Over the course of 25 years working as a clinical psychologist, I have witnessed a growing assault on the very foundations of clinical work as a serious academic and professional discipline. This assault has led to a radical deprofessionalization of clinical psychology and to an erosion of standards for the practice of psychotherapy, in general. A field that once attracted some of the best and the brightest has seen a thinning of quality in the ranks, as the best are increasingly being replaced by disingenuous, incompetent, self-serving hacks of marginal intellect and poor moral character. How this state of affairs came to pass is a complex story, but the animating forces that underlie deprofessionalization of the field are clear: greed, lust for power and envy have replaced the search for truth as the new core principles of clinical psychology and psychotherapy.
For many psychotherapists, psychotherapy is no longer a professional calling or a manifestation of higher personal values. Instead, it is a business that often accommodates dishonest, destructive characters who know nothing about psychotherapy. These ‘new therapists’ often conduct themselves like snake-oil salesmen who are always on the lookout for the next gimmick that will effectively separate suffering people from the cash in their wallets. I suspect that as long as they aren’t called on their gross misconduct, these types can nearly convince themselves that they really are conducting psychotherapy… of a sort.
I believe the problem has reached critical mass and the field of psychology itself offers far more support to the corrupt than it offers to the honest. Not that I believe that things were ever close to perfect, but at one time, psychotherapy provided many with a safe space where they could reasonably entertain the hope of examining uncomfortable truths not welcome for discussion anywhere else in their everyday lives. Such a space is becoming an increasingly rare phenomenon.
Now, therapy often begins with the lies of a therapist who has misrepresented his or her training, credentials and expertise. Moreover, therapists who have not ever seriously explored the truth within themselves, hold themselves out as individuals who are ready to assist others in this challenging process.