Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A letter from one of our readers

Dear whistle blower,
Thanks for your site, which a colleague of mine forwarded to me.
I just wanted to share my two cents with you regarding the opposite end of the equation - people who do have doctorates, but make an unduly big deal out of them. I feel this is also important for the public to know.
Very briefly about me so you know the context: I'm a chartered psychologist (not a PhD or doctor) and clinical hypnotist. I got a first and distinction in my BSc, did well on my post-grad work, been on TV several times demonstrating rapid therapy, written a couple of books and have a successful business now for over 10 years since becoming chartered. Getting a doctorate would be a very tedious but obtainable thing in terms of cognitive ability.
I was in the last year of post-graduate training in psychology in the UK before the system changed. In other words I did 3 years post-grad work and a disseration and extensive literature review. Nowadays, a trainee who does the same 3 year course and does a slightly longer disertation instead of doing both disertation and lit review gets auto awarded a doctorate (not a PhD) in psychology, so they can call themselves a doctor.
So here's the deal among us psychologists at least. If you are not working in research, even a genuine doctorate among clinical psychologists is a bit of a scam.
One psychologist who uses my consulting rooms while doing her post-grad work told me she is doing a subject for her doctorate which she is not actually interested in (but it is do-able, if tedious to do), that is being done for the sake of completing her doctorate, will not really add anything interesting or new to the field, is making her miserable and she can't wait to finish it..... but she will get to call herself a doctor. Why? because it has marketing value with the public.
In reality, let's do a like-for-like examination. In the year that she locked herself into a room to collect and process useless data for the sake of finishing something, she missed out on a year of becoming more experienced and proficient with actual clients (surely the more relevant and important thing?).
In other words, if she had done therapy instead for that year instead of her doctorate, at the end of the year she would have been a better practitioner. She is not any wiser clinically because of her doctorate.
To her credit, she admits the real value of a doctorate is in marketing, not in actual proficiency. But what really annoys me is others who belive in their own hype and think their achievement is in the same field as a medical doctor, which is let's face it, is the bandwagon people are trying to ride on by association. Not sure how locking yourself up in a room to talk about some very obscure niche areas makes you a better physician, but these people can't wait to add 'dr' to their credit card to impress store assistants or call themselves 'dr' at parties or every available opportunity.
A couple of people have suggested that I could do a post-grad top up part time to get a 'dr.' They don't say this because they think I need to improve my clinical skills. They do this because I would simply seem more credible to the unsuspecting public and raise my fee. Rather amusingly, I did hear in the past a husband of a wife I worked with say (despite my results), 'yes but he's not even a doctor!' What was really interesting was this guy, a banker, had a doctorate himself - in philosophy!
I have always rejected the idea of taking a year off to do a doctorate. Quite apart from the moral aspect of misleading people, I really need to like something to be engaged with it. Life is too short. I saw my colleague miserable for a year - and she is conscientious, diligent, hard working and methodical (and does not have children!) and even she hated it. I'm not going to miss out on my family for the sake of earning a bit more (I charge more than her anyway).
The public need to break out of the notion regarding non-medical and non-reserach doctorates = means better. Personally, most credentials leave me cold. I prefer to judge people by merit and results.
It is sad that Paul McKenna, an established multi-millionaire and accomplished clinician, felt the need to go to a non-accredited university so he can call himself a 'Dr' or add PhD after his name. Would it have added to his credibility? why bother, he's already making millions. That suggests a character weakness.
There is no excuse for Roy Hunter and the rest for their degree mill qualifications. That is actually misleading the public. By way of contrast an NLP trainer I know did a doctorate at American Pacific University in Hawaii in clinical hypnosis. Actually the course looked like a really good training in hypnosis (it's where Tad James got his PhD from), but the univesity wasn't accredited. To his credit, this trainer has never used the 'Dr' card ever or mentioned it for marketing.
I wish there were more like that. 
Keep up the great work,
Best wishes,

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