Ethics, apps, etc.

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by moonlightsonata, Jun 3, 2008.

  1. moonlightsonata

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    Hi,

    I'm about a year to a year and a half from my potential application time, and I'm starting to look more closely at applications, school, and so forth; I even have an idea of what I want to research, though that may change over the next year+.

    One of my top schools asks the following questions on their app:

    "Within the past five years have you experienced, been diagnosed with, or received treatment for a persistent or severe emotional or mental illness or personality disorder?" (yes/no)

    "Within the past five years have you experienced, been diagnosed with, or received treatment for any physical or mental conditions that may impair or interfer with your ability to practice as a psychologist?" (yes/no)

    There's also a space and request to provide dates (explictly asked for), explanations, and documentations.

    My situation is a bit unusual: Freshman year of college (about 1 year ago, 2.5 years at application time) I experienced what was most likely contamination OCD. I contacted a friend of mine who was in clinical psych grad school at the time for advice. She advised me to seek treatment but also gave me some unoffical, very basic advice. I took her advice and dealt with it myself and have been symptom free for about 5 or 6 months. Never went to treatment, never was actually dx'd with anything, etc., so there's no official documentation of any of this... Assuming I stay symptom-free, what do I put on this application? Yes? But given that I have no official diagnosis, treatment records, etc., what would I put for an explanation? Given the "experienced" term, what is the ethical/proper thing to do here?

    Thank you very much!
     
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  3. erg923

    erg923 Regional Clinical Officer, Cenpatico National

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    You should NEVER feel persuaded to release your PRIVATE medical history in a situation like this unless problems are ongoing and pose a risk of compromising judgment and/or ability to work effectively with clients. Unless it poses a risk to your judgment and ability to work with patients, no one needs to know this. I am surprised they are even asking this.
     
  4. moonlightsonata

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    Well, it's a non-APA accredited school (though it is aiming heavily for accrediation), so maybe that's why they can ask it...? (And before the flaming starts, it's a university program with a heavy research concentration in my "niche")
     
  5. Cosmo75

    Cosmo75 Post-Doctoral Fellow

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    Wow, can they legally ask those questions? Any attorneys in the house? :)

    I'd be hesitant to answer them. Do you feel as if having symptoms of contamination OCD would interfere with your ability to be a psychologist? After all, part of the diagnostic criteria for most DMS-IV dx'es is that the symptoms interfere with social, emotional, or occupational functioning. How severe was it? It doesn't *sound* that bad if you were able to combat it on your own with some advice from a trusted friend. You seem to have a great deal of insight and psychological strength if that is the case.

    Hell, I have OCD for symmetry. I have to line up my skittles by color before I can eat them, and I put my groceries in the cart in an ordered way. Guess I should put that on future employer apps :D
     
  6. JockNerd

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    Your suspicion that you may have had something isn't a diagnosis. Since you were never officially diagnosed, you never officially had anything, so for your application the ethics of that question are moot; the answer is "no."
     
  7. moonlightsonata

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    Thanks for the reply! :)

    I think it might have been a problem before I "recovered," but now, it's a non-issue, I think (and actually, it caused me to undertake a good amount of introspection, so that would probably be helpful, especially in regards to countertransference and other fun aspects of supervision ;)). Yeah, now, I would say it wouldn't be an issue unless said job involved eating off the floor or something.

    As for the legality, I don't know, but considering they have all applicants fill out this form (which also contains questions on substance d/o's, malpractice, etc.), and make every student in the program fill it out again every year, they seem pretty welded to the idea.

    JockNerd: Is that the case even given that they included "have you experienced..." in the question, separate from being dx'd? That was what was throwing me.
     
  8. Markp

    Markp Clinical Psychologist

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    Since you are at best a lay person, I would think that you should answer NO to these questions. You did not receive treatment, you aren't qualified to determine if it was severe, and you don't have any symptoms (therefore it is not persistent.)

    Do not disclose something you are not qualified to diagnose, nor is a grad student qualified to diagnose. It would be different if you had been seen professionally but you haven't been. You sought friendly advice from someone you believed was more informed than you, but that is NOT treatment.

    I would not think that this is "experiencing" a psychological disorder any more than crying is experiencing depression. Something you handle yourself is not likely severe enough to rise to the level of a "persistent or severe emotional or mental illness, or personality disorder."

    Mark
     
  9. moonlightsonata

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    Thanks for the reply. The question I was having the most problems with was question 1... It probably would have interfered at the time, but I sincerely doubt that's the case now, and since I have no real explanation to write down, I guess I can ethically check "no"...?
     
  10. cara susanna

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    I know that undergrad schools can ask that question and if you lie, you can later get your degree revoked if they find out.

    Not sure about grad programs.
     
  11. psychanon

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    What you describe isn't a persistent, severe mental illness. That usually implies something that requires hospitalization-- bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, severe borderline PD. They're not simply asking if you've ever had psychological problems, they're asking if you've ever had anything that would compromise your ability to do therapy. OCD would rarely on its own constitute severe mental illness, and given that your case was mild enough to be self-treated (and was never even diagnosed), it certainly wouldn't.

    As an aside, I would definitely decide on your research interests before you pick schools, let alone before you decide how to answer the application questions.
     
  12. thewesternsky

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    Source, please?
     
  13. cara susanna

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    My professor, a clinical psychologist. One of her clients ran into that question during his/her applications process.
     
  14. BorntoRun

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    I'll second this. SPMI (severe and persistent mental illness) is actually a term with a definition - it wouldn't refer to mild OCD, even if you were diagnosed with OCD, which you weren't. Fortunately, your answer is no :)

    As far as describing any mental health problems, if you wanted to you could share that you dealt with some non-clinical anxiety when you were in college, but you shouldn't feel pressured even to disclose that. I don't think this is an ethics question on your part - mental illness shouldn't be a determining factor whatsoever in admission to a program.
     
  15. moonlightsonata

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    That's my main concern... but it doesn't seem like "I thought..." is much of explanation, so is there something here I would need to explain?"

    Seems like the general consensus is "no."
     
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  17. cara susanna

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    Like the others said, I would say no because you haven't been in therapy or officially diagnosed.
     

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