Good Old Boy Network
I recently received a call from a woman looking for anger management classes. I have heard the story before. In New Hampshire, a person goes to a court and is ordered to undergo an anger management evaluation. The involved person searches and discovers such a program in the area of Manchester, New Hampshire. Interesting side note is, a great many of the released offenders in this state reside in Manchester and the State Capital.
The woman who called went on to share that she found a person who will do the evaluation. She meets this “psychologist” and for an hour the psychologist asks her a series of question. At the end of the session this psychologist sends her evaluation to the court. As it turns out, the woman was recommended to participate in a 26 week group program. She was recommended to participate in the psychologist’s group at a cost of $30.00 per session. Wow, figure the average group is between 4 and 8 clients, at 30.00 per client that is $120.00 through $240.00 per hour. Not bad.
My concern is not that the psychologist offered her program to this woman, or that she charges $30.00 per person per hour. The evaluation is what concerns me. What evaluation?
Here is my position: Performing an evaluation without proper assessment tools is like building a house with finish nails; it is useless. As a researcher and practitioner in the field of managing anger, domestic violence, and alcohol and drug abuse, whenever I meet with a prospective client I listen to what they say through my cognitive-social underlying orientation. I am sure this psychologist listened to this woman through her underlying orientation as well.
In keeping with Best Practiced, Evidence Based principles, I should be able to take this psychologist’s evaluation and come up with the same outcome. Notice I wrote “I should.” I guarantee I won’t because of the lack of objective assessment tools.
I pride myself on being an observer, and as such I have a great deal of passion for collecting data, especially in performing an evaluation. I have spent the past 20 years researching, studying, and field testing the theoretical perspective from which I understand the anger-response, entitlement-based coercive control, and compensatory addictive behaviors. It is through the use of good assessment tools, not only for evaluative purposes, but also to measure progress along the process of change. Without pre and post tests, intermittent goals, and structured interviews there is no way this psychologist was working in the best interest of her client. In fact, the psychologist tried to convince the woman who called me that the psychologist’s services were “on a list” and this woman had to pick from this list. There is not such list, however the court’s do recognize certain agencies who have performed evaluations in the past.
The issues here go directly to the root of my passion and integrity. People who are court ordered are put in a box and that box is open to abuse by the field. The client has to participate and pay or he or she will go to jail, or whatever the judge rules. I worked hard to create a nonprofit that meets my passion and integrity for helping people help themselves change. MyDiscover Inc is a 501-C(4) nonprofit that advocates for public safety and welfare. It is not in the welfare of the public to be manipulated to participating in pseudo anger management or domestic abuse programs.
I am working hard to align not only myself but my organization to push for more structure and control over who performs anger management and domestic abuse evaluations, counseling, and education, but also to create standards which all clinicians must follow in terms of assessment. It is a shame when professionals in the field of mental health take advantage of those who must undergo its care. By the way, the assessment tools we use as pre and post test are the Anger Disorder Scale, Paulhaus Deception Scale, and for evaluative purposes, the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Tests, and the Select Emotional Alternatives Cognitive Application Processing skills assessment (SEACAP). I researched and developed SEACAP through my post-graduate work performed on men who murdered their partners, in contrast with men who committed acts of aggression and hostility. In addition, we also use several structured interview questionnaires during the program, after all, good assessment is ongoing and compliment counseling. In situations of domestic abuse evaluation, we use assessments through the CDC on Measuring Intimate Partner Violence and Perpetration.