Lyn’s latest version of events

At a shrewdly chosen location in Perth last week – the Bible belt of clinical psychology in Australia – the APS Executive Director, Lyn Littlefield, advanced yet another version of her defence of the APS’ role in the introduction of the two-tier system.

The story now according to Lyn, is that the DoHA bureaucrats were under the thumbs of the AMA and the medical fraternity, who demanded that psychologists demonstrate that they were “qualified clinicians” practising evidence-based treatment and not a rag-tag bunch of palm-readers, faith healers and pseudo-helpers.

So Lyn and her team assured the bureaucrats that we had “clinically-trained psychologists” in the form of  … members of the Clinical College. According to Lyn, that was the argument that got us past the post with DoHA approving the MBS item numbers.

The plan, according to Lyn, was that other psychologists would be brought on board as the political climate improved … except that, well, that part of the plan somehow never materialised.

What materialised, instead, was that the APS kept advancing the cause of Clinical Psychologists and undermining the reputation of the majority of its members.

The opportunities for up-skilling for most members never materialised. The universities (over-represented on the APS board) shut down alternative courses, with the apparent support of APAC, a subsidiary of the APS at the time.

When AHPRA came on the scene in 2010, the other colleges gained endorsement, but somehow weren’t eligible for the same rebate as the clinicals.

Effectively, then, it seems under Lyn’s strategic genius, the clinicals got themselves past the post with DoHA … and then removed the post.

Lyn also resorted to her familiar tactic of quelling dissent with her usual fear mongering …”these are dangerous times and we can’t afford division”. If we make any more fuss about the two-tier system, we’ll all be abandoned to the PHNs and the stepped-care model.

Is this how members of a professional society should be treated by their so-called leaders?

Wasn’t it her job back then to challenge the government’s assumptions; to point out the dangers of magic bullets and choosing “winners” and to argue strongly for the empirical record of the rest of her members?

Why did she not muster all the resources and the clout of the APS and show the bureaucrats the error of their ways? Why didn’t she unite members in the same cause – instead of backing only one small group?

Wasn’t this her job in the intervening decade? Isn’t it still her job? Why hasn’t she done what her counterparts overseas have done and protected her profession and her members from bureaucratic interference, however well-meaning?

Lyn should be apologising to members, rather than terrifying them.

Once again we ask, who is really running the APS? And who was running it then?

Anyone who has been a member for more than 10 years will know that the only so-called evidence-based treatment back in 2006 was CBT – not clinical psychology.

And the clinical college did not have a monopoly on CBT. Even in the 1990’s Australian universities were teaching CBT. There would have been no problem up-skilling all APS members in CBT.

Why didn’t Lyn advocate for all of us in those submissions in 2006? And why did she instead advocate on behalf of the Clinical College, which gave them complete control over who could enter their College. Where was the strategic direction of the APS board then to support all members and all psychological approaches as stated our Constitution?

Just like with her previous “explanation”– that “Abbott did it!” – she provides no evidence for this version either.

At best it’s a confession of failure on Lyn’s part; at worst, it tells us that when it really counted – before the deal was done – she failed stand up for the majority of her members.

It’s hard not to draw the obvious conclusion from all of this: that the Clinical College had control of the APS; that they did a deal behind the backs of the rest of the society and that Lyn went along with it.

And while Lyn was repeating her well-worn, unconvincing excuses, they have spent the past 10 years gaining further advantages for this clinical “elite”. They are now intent on changing the society’s rules to permanently etch those advantages in stone.

This is our last chance to right those wrongs and to stand up for all Psychologists. We must all act now, and we must convince our fellow members to act.

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