What role did the San Francisco Pyschoanalytic Society Institute play in the American Psychoanalytic Society's opening its membership up to non-medical mental-health professionals?
The issue of not accepting non-medical mental health professional, i.e., psychiatric social workers and mental health counselors, had been brewing for quite some time within the membership of the American Psychoanalytic Society. The center had maintained a very restricted policy where only psychiatrists and physicials could get top of the line training by a most desirable staff. In reality, although the premise of this police was to create a culture of exclusivity toward the medical field, it was also a very discriminatory practice, as the right to obtain an education on behalf of the betterment of a mental health patient- was being flatly denied.
It was in1985 when 4 clinical psychologists posed a class-action suit on behalf of nearly thousands of other members in that same field using the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890 (Sherman Act, July 2, 1890, ch. 647, 26 Stat. 209, 15 U.S.C. 1–7) which states,
"Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal"
"Every person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, shall be deemed guilty of a felony."
Basically, Sherman protects practices, businesses and firms to try to control the market whom they serve thus rejecting others. The psychologists claimed that the training and the membership rules of the Association clearly denoted monopoly of information, education, training, and equal opportunities.
This group of clinicians were backed up by the division of psychoanalysis of the APA, also known as Division 39. Top San Francisco representatives within the association, who were the minority there, were in full support of opening the doors to clinicians as well as physicians. Already the San Francisco Institute had achieved a milestone in the 1970's for convincing the American Psychoanalytic Association to accept a small number of clinicians and non-medical professionals for training.
However, it was in the 1985 when the massive class action against the Association was backed by a San Francisco Bay group of clinicians who were leading yet another class action against them. This particular group, however, was itself financially backed bythe San Francisco Institute, who had members that were also members of the APA. It was as if San Francisco had provided the final pull that would bring the APA regulations to implode. Now, members within the APA and outside of it were pushing for a reform. Finally in 1988 non-medical mental health professionals were finally admitted to candidacy. The local San Francisco group that was planning the second class action suit did not actually put it forth. Instead, they formed the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California and have become a striving force within the counseling community.
For more informaton, read
Wallerstein, Robert S. (1978). The mental health professions: Conceptualization and reconceptualization of a new discipline. International Review of Psychoanalysis, 5, 377-392.
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