Thoughts on this issue’s topics

By John Grohol, Psy.D.
March 30th, 2024

This is an interesting issue in which our contributors explore a wealth of timely topics for clinicians. Our cover story by Phyllis Hanlon takes a deep dive into the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) movement. DEI has increased in recent years not only in visibility and initiatives, but in results too. Our Q&A with Aaron Y Chew, Ph.D., MSCP talks about why diversity matters and should be more than just checking things off a list.

I’m heartened to see that Massachusetts finally joins the other New England states in stopping the practice of asking discriminatory, stigmatizing questions in the credentialing process for physicians. Stigma surrounding mental illness won’t end until professionals stop acting as if those with mental illness are somehow “less than” those without.

Rhode Island is taking an innovative approach to helping those with substance use disorders, by opening a space where individuals can safely use substances they’ve obtained elsewhere. This is meant to help prevent drug overdose deaths and has been shown to reduce the number of overdoses and drug-related emergencies in Canada. We know that many of our current strategies don’t work or are underfunded, so it’s refreshing to see a new effort.

Many clinicians probably haven’t heard of or scoff at the idea of patients conducting their “own research.” But in a growing self-help trend, patients are feeling more empowered to do just that, especially when they are untreated or under-treated. We have an excellent article by Eileen Weber describing this phenomenon.

There is a growing shortage of psychologists and psychiatrists – especially those who take health insurance – that is felt every time a person tries to access mental health services. One possible solution is to license more master’s level psychologists, something that West Virginia, Kansas, New Mexico, Kentucky, and Vermont already do. Given the existing large number of licensed therapists in other professions that hold master’s degrees, this seems like a reasonable idea for more states to consider.

Finally, I appreciated Ellen Anderson, Ph.D.’s column on succession planning for your patients after your death. It’s something that many clinicians simply don’t consider in their practice, but is an important event to plan for (even if none of us wish to think about our own death any sooner than we have to).

Enjoy the issue!

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