Answering a Reader’s Questions

Recently a reader posted the following comment to an August 12, 2008 blog essay about my mother’s suicide called Dusty Stones: Notes On A Suicide. The well thought out comment reads as follows: 

  • The New York State Education Department, Division of Professional Licensing, establishes ethical guidelines for the practice of the professions it monitors and regulates.
  • What are their guidelines in this important and delicate area?
  • Was this Therapist actually licensed by the New York State Education Department and subject to its disciplinary authority and review?

The were no doubt related to Fred Drobin, the psychotherapist who worked with my mother and, the day after her suicide, told me he had to end our phone conversation because his dinner was getting cold.

Here is my response to this reader, whose comment and questions are deeply appreciated. The reader is right that the New York State Education Department, Division of Professional Licensing, establishes ethical guidelines for the practice of the professions it monitors and regulates. The problem is New York, like most states, only has what’s called title protection, meaning you can’t call yourself a social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist, etc., without certain education credentials and you must be licensed by State Ed.

The problem in the case of folks like Drobin and the poster-boy for misrepresentation, Tim Feeney, is you can call yourself a psychotherapist or behavior specialist or life coach and more and because none of these titles are included in the list of those that fall under the title-protection umbrella, you can pretty much get away with it.

Equally disturbing is the fact there are only something like eight or nine states in the country that make it a criminal offense to misrepresent your education credentials, and in these states the crime is only a misdemeanor.

Drobin continues to practice as a psychotherapist in Nyack, New York and Feeney has essentially been hired to work with brain injury survivors for the state. Like I said, the rules are frayed and lax and the cost to the lives of many is brutally high.