You are building a house and find an architect who sells you on her ideas. Trouble is, she’s not an architect at all; has never studied architecture; and your house turns out to be a disaster.
Totally unacceptable, right? Of course, and there are regulatory processes that will take that faux designer out of business as quickly as you can say “call the wrecking crew.”
Now, imagine this:
You feel you need a bit of therapy to overcome some issues that have dogged you for years. We all do from time to time. You find a therapist, and for years are abused by that person’s incompetence and peculiar impulse to pose as a counselor in the first place.
But you had no idea. You thought, sensibly, that if a person sold and presented himself or herself as a counseling therapist in B.C. there would be some sort of regulatory structure – some sort of reassurance that this person bettered a stringent professional standard.
If you supposed this, then you were mistaken. There is, appallingly, no such thing.
But you would also be wrong thinking that nobody was on top of this file, working her heart out to wrench changes out of a reptilian regulatory system.
Janice Williams (aka Junco Jan – she did the cover art for this article) lives in Gibsons and is known and respected as an innovative artist and community advocate. She is also a courageous and talented writer who has written the definitive – if harrowing – work on ill-treatment at the hands of a “therapist” who was allowed to practice pure quackery without limit.
(Disclaimer: Janice Williams is my friend.)
I will not write at length about Ms Williams’ experience. If you are curious, then find your way to a Brave Mike evening – held regularly at Gibsons Public Library. Or, Google “Mental Case 101 – Trussed Issues.” It is the definitive work.
What is most important to talk about is the lack of regulation in a sensitive and important area of health care. It is an issue uniquely specific to the Sunshine Coast. Every manner of amateur/alternative therapy is available here; and that is not necessarily a bad thing. But it can be when folks in need somehow meet up with a “therapist” who sells psychological snake oil.
A fledgling group, the Federation of Associations For Counseling Therapists, appears to be making some headway in the regulation and quality assurance of care in B.C. But as someone who has written and advocated for years in the area of mental health, I have my doubts.
The provincial government – in particular the ministries dealing with health and social justice – are so starved of resources, motivation, and inspiration that help from above seems unlikely to appear any time soon.
It is also the case that folks living with emotional/psychological difficulties are not exactly high on the provincial government’s political radar.
Which means that, perhaps, as a community we should be more mindful about people who are offering counseling therapies – and paying attention to friends, family, lovers who are visiting unregulated practitioners.
This is not to say that alternative approaches to counseling are inappropriate or unhelpful. Many are very effective – in many cases more effective than “traditional” approaches. What I am saying is that care and caution is needed. As is advocacy.
Call our MLA. Write a letter. Raise your voice. This is a matter that affects all of us.
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