The Next Step for Behavioral Health Psychology, PLLC

On 3/1/13, I began working full-time at Behavioral Health and Consulting Psychology, PLLC.  Prior to this I was only able to devote a small amount of my time to this practice as most of my attention was devoted to my work as an administrator of psychiatric programs at a local hospital.  I am excited about this opportunity to devote my full attention to direct client services again.


Practicing without a License

In the state of NC, the psychology practice act specifically defines the practice of psychology to include applied behavior analysis (ABA) and behavior therapy.  For this reason, only those licensed to practice psychology or those with an exemption such as being licensed by another or the "healing arts" can practice applied behavior analysis.  In Arizona, the Psychology Board solved a similar problem by creating a division within that board that licenses Behavior Analysts.  The purpose of the regulation of health care professions is not to stifle competition or prevent the public from exercising free choice, but instead all of this licensure business is about protecting the public from quacks.  We understand this is necessary in medicine (would you go to an unlicensed medical doctor?)

Should the Psychology Board license Behavior Analysts or should the NC requirement stand that a Behavior Analyst must also be a licensed professional?  I know a proposal is out there, that Board Certified Behavior Analysts should be exempt, but who would regulate them, and what would that open for the regulation of health care practice.  My main concern is that there are individuals practicing in NC without a licence right now, who are taking advantage of the "good name" of ABA to practice whatever their pet method is under the name of Behavior Analysis, not even aware that this is prohibited by statue.

Tell me what you think.


Bem (in press) on Psi

I neither "believe" nor "not believe" in ESP.  I maintain philosophic doubt about all phenomena.  (See Practical Dharma, Lojong 2.) While I eagerly await the publication of the full article, in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Bem (in press), any statistical analysis that purports to support a very controversial or new idea, should present especially strong evidence. 

B.F. Skinner got into trouble when he said the purpose of a science of behavior is to "predict and control" (from Beyond Freedom and Dignity).  Critics assumed he meant the purpose of behavioral science is to predict and then control people.  "Predict and control" is a hallmark of behavior analysis and relates to scientific knowledge.  (The relationship between actual controlling variables and the organization of society is too complex to get sidetracked into here.) 

The question of Psi as causal in behavior is the type of problem behavior analysts address with the demand that adequate proof must be demonstrated in repeatable functional relationships. 

From my perspective, who cares if there is a statistical relationship due to factors we can not explain or control.  What does this tell us except there is unexplained variance in the data (that begs to be explained). 

Until otherwise demonstrated, I am (temporarily) operating under the assumption that the results reported in the upcoming Bem article are due to an unobserved and unexplained concurrent factor that explains both the "current" and "future" responses.  Future research should attempt to find this independent variable and then demonstrate it can be controlled to reliably produce the dependent variable.  (Maybe this independent variable will be Psi or maybe it will be a subtle expectation or demand characteristic, which has a long research history in the Jounal of Personality and Social Psychology - and IMJ is why the Journal published this.)