Saluting Drapeau

Almost 1500 people have signed the petition at the National Assembly.  If you sign now, you might be the 1500th!

In a previous post I expressed my dismay with the fact that so much therapeutic expertise has been rendered inaccessible to the public, if not absurdly “illegal,” by Bill 21.  In this post I want to explore the historical roots of Bill 21 by way of a mystery...

The mystery of the disappearing sentence

In June 2008, exactly one year before Bill 21 was passed, a paper was presented by five independent academics with varying research backgrounds to the Society for Psychotherapy Research at its conference that year in Barcelona. Titled The Psychotherapeutic Professions in Canada, it contained some very independent observations:
“We are not aware of any research that suggests that regulated mental health professionals are actually more efficient and effective than non-regulated mental health workers.”
Say what?  Five trained academic researchers cannot find any evidence for the effectiveness of the regulation of psychotherapy, just when Bill 21 is in the works?  One would think that would give pause, and perhaps it did, but not for long.

The paper was revised in 2009 just in time for the publicity around Bill 21.  In 2009, the provocative sentence was quietly rolled up and deep sixed.  Suddenly a new name appears on the masthead of the revised version: Martin Drapeau, a past VP of the Ordre des Psychologues du Québec, whose 63-page resumé is a list of academic and bureaucratic connections at the intersection of health needs, public policy and corporate money. 

When Martin Drapeau joins the team, he offers no data on regulation, no evidence that I am aware of. Without irony, his writing emphasizes two main points: 1) Psychotherapy should be “evidence-based”, and 2) Psychologists are the only people who can interpret the empirical evidence.  He makes these statements but does not himself accept referrals for psychotherapy.  
"Psychologists have generated the empirical evidence in the field of psychotherapy. It is now up to us as psychologists, not up to others who cannot fully appreciate the scientific principles of our profession or who too often confuse efficacy with clinical relevance or usefulness, to interpret these practices and to give them their true meaning."
First, someone should inform Mr. Drapeau that honest scientists do not “generate evidence.”  The universe does that.  Scientists collect, classify and measure evidence, and try to isolate variables by controlled experiments, in order to confirm or falsify hypotheses and sometimes develop theories. Perhaps this is just a bit of sloppy English, but it makes me suspicious.

My ears prick up further when Drapeau announces from on high that only psychologists “can fully appreciate” the evidence they “generate.”   Urging on his band of brothers (all of the contributors to
The Psychotherapeutic Professions in Canada are male), Drapeau calls psychologists to “interpret these practices” (what practices exactly, he does not say) because it is up to these happy few, “not up to others,” to “give” them their “true meaning.”

It is generous of Mr. Drapeau to allow the other several billion members of the human race (including mathematicians, statisticians, game theorists, philosophers, social scientists, anthropologists, physicians, social workers and multitudes of just plain experienced, intelligent and sensitive people) some limited appreciation for the evidence that psychologists “generate.”  How sad that all these souls will never attain a full understanding of “these practices.”  And how interesting that, while so many of them can approach the evidence from other perspectives, the “only” ones who can "fully" understand are often poised to profit from their understanding.

Did I mention that Drapeau is a founder of a startup poised to profit from both from the medicalization of psychotherapy and the continuing education of psychotherapists including those non-psychologist psychotherapists who can never “fully appreciate" the “true meaning” of whatever evidence he has to offer them?

Is this a professional paper, a land grab or a witch hunt?  I am not sure exactly what will happen to those of us who do not wish to cede the “true meaning” of psychology to psychologists, but I have a feeling it won’t be pleasant.

1 comment:

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