Standardization of Psychological Professions

We all know there is an issue, and many people are working on it urgently.

But exactly how urgent is it?

I recently had this encounter in another country that I think you need to hear. The man is a “clinical psychologist.” He is my brother, and I knew that he had absolutely zero qualification to be called that in other countries. He doesn’t have an M.D. or Ph.D., and he didn’t have any practical education or training. His B.A. and M.A. were purely academic, and his M.A. thesis was solely based on his personal view only intermittently supported by literature citations. Say, very reminiscent of a term paper by the North American standard. I didn’t tell him this, but I was absolutely shocked that the university gave him a graduate degree for it.

When we were having just general conversations, I immediately realized that he didn’t even have the basic skills even a crisis line volunteers would be trained on, such as listening fully and validating experiences. I sort of turned a blind eye to it, seeing that he was personally involved with some of those stories and may find it hard to be fair and objective. Then I realized that his dismissive, patronizing, and downright demeaning attitude only increased over time.

He started going through my psych textbook. “You wouldn’t mind if I give you a bit of a rant lecture?” I said no. It was incredibly humorous and painful to listen to him go on and on about things where he was wrong. Yes, textbooks are full of misinformation and it’s healthy to debate about information in a textbook. But I’m talking at a more fundamental level. He, for instance, completely failed to recognize DSM, and when I pointed it out, failed to recognize the term “DSM.”

Then later we were having a bit of a heated argument between my mother and me, and his interventions weren’t helping. I couldn’t finish a sentence without two of them interrupting. I repeatedly clarified “I’m not trying to fight about what really happened or didn’t. I’m trying to share how I experienced those events,” to which he would say “Oh ok.” But he couldn’t help himself interrupting without letting me finish one sentence in the do-over.

When my 5th try at it wasn’t allowed to continue, I said “I’m just thinking… this conversation is getting heated, and it’s not helping anyone. How would everyone feel if I just calmly walked out of here and we continue this conversation another day? I’m not storming out. I’m calm. I just think this conversation isn’t helping any of us.” And he jumped on me. Physically restrained me. Even after about 45 minutes of negotiation and physically freeing myself, I was blocked from exiting my mother’s apartment. I kept telling my brother what he was doing was illegal and unethical, to which he kept responding it was OK because I was family. I said “How do you not know how bad this is? If your employer finds out about this, you will lose your job.” He *chuckled* and said that’s not going to happen. The whole time, he was yelling “No one here will hurt you!” and my mother was screaming “I’d die for you!!” with me telling them that me calmly leaving a fight is not a situation that justifies any of the several things that they were doing and saying, and that they’d watched way too many movies.

I told him that he was traumatizing me.
I pleaded him to let me go to avoid giving me PTSD.
I explained to him that his weight on me was causing difficulty breathing and that I was faint and afraid of passing out.
I repeatedly told him that, if his reason for restraining me is to prevent me from leaving, he has to at least free me to let me walk back into the living room, away from the door. He refused.

I eventually called the police, who agreed that what he did was illegal. The officers demanded my brother apologize to me for touching me let alone physically restraining me. My brother refused, and he, in front of the police officers, declared it was legal for him to man-handle me and forcibly confine me because I was family. The officers then tried to make my brother promise my safety, which he again refused.

(When I pressed, the police officers agreed that my brother was not complying with anything they were asking him to do, but they told me I had no choice but to comply with their demand to stay in my mother’s apartment till the next morning. The police and their lack of education in domestic violence is a whole another topic, however.)

I fled once both captors started snoring. I ran out with shoes in hand and hid in the airport for 10 hours till my flight home. I felt very confused about the local culture, and I no longer trusted police officers. I was also very afraid my brother would use his credentials as a “clinical psychologist” to try to do harm to me. I made sure I knew where the nearest person with an American or Canadian accent was so I could run to them if needed.

I hesitate to contact his employer because I am frightened of the consequences I’d suffer from my family if they found out.

But this man absolutely should not be practicing any psychology let alone have the title “clinical psychologist.”

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