[AVAPL Members] Re: Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor

  • From: Walter Penk <wepenk@xxxxxxx>
  • To: members1@xxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 17 Oct 2010 10:46:01 -0700 (PDT)

I agree with what Kathleen McNamara has written so well:
that is, VA psychologists have an opportunity to design (within the rules and regulations governing and guiding Protection of Human) to conduct large scale surveys about assessment in the VA and how assessment relates to services utilization, processes, and outcomes for treatment- and rehabilitation-seeking veterans.  
Large-scale surveys already have been completed by centers within the VA--e.g., NEPEC, PERC, MIRECCs, GRECCs, VA Centers of Excellence, HSR&D, VA Cooperative Studies, and other groups, just to cite a couple of examples from health services research completed in the past.  And most of the studies completed by centers in the VA certainly build upon assessment (Going through my mind is the way that Suzy Gulliver, PhD, has organized the VA Center of Excellence for VISN 17, in which Sandra Morissette, PhD, heads the Assessment core...bringing back memories to me about how Robert Rosenheck, MD, and Michael Neale, PhD, in the mid-1980's, focused NEPEC on assessment, creating complaints by clinicians about having to complete so many forms.).
And these many accomplishments were built upon the tradition of multi-site PEP studies pioneered by Lee Gurel, PhD (see Gurel's 2007 chapter in Rod Baker's Stories in VA Psychology) and C. James Klett, PhD, and John Overall, PhD, at VA in Perry Point (See Baker and Pickren's Psychology and the Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, DC: APA Press, 2007), as well as many other psychologists who have worked in the VA. 
Without question, as we are reminded by Ben Mezrich's new book in 2010, The accidental billionaires: The founding of facebook, computer resources are now operational within the Veterans Health Administration, as Kathleen reminds us, to amass information based upon reliable and valid assessment, that might improve our practices for veterans, as Douglas K. Gottfredson, PhD, recounts for us in his chapter, "Computers in VA Psychology" in Baker's book.  In the spirit of, and recalling with delight, the accomplishments of Harold Gilbertstadt, PhD, and Robert Luchene, PhD, who did so much to improve assessment, we now must find the equivalent of our Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin and mobilize VA computer resources to reveal processes and outcomes in treatment and rehabilitation that improve the recovery and adjustment of so many veterans who entrust Psychology with their care.
Thanks, Kathleen.  Great ideas,  I wonder, now, how to organize our assessments across all the "VA Nation" to teach us how to improve the delivery of services to, with, and for veterans and their families.

From: "McNamara, Kathleen M." <Kathleen.McNamara@xxxxxx>
To: members1@xxxxxxxxx
Sent: Thu, October 14, 2010 3:05:20 PM
Subject: [AVAPL Members] Re: Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor

Quite a number of years ago, the APA Practice Directorate had a project with Atlantic Bell South which showed a significant reduction in costs when psychological assessments (objective testing like MMPI) were used with those who were covered under insurance by them.  The savings came from proper diagnosis and follow-up treatment recommendations,  with significant reduction in psychiatric hospitalizations, in particular. 

  Unfortunately, when I have tried to track down anything published or even a summary report, I have been informed that the data were proprietary and it is not a published finding.  I would like to see the Denver VA study (or have the reference), if you could please forward that to me.  Thank you.


It would be great if we had some efforts from OMHS to coordinate a study across VA MHSs to do a large scale study, where psychological assessments were included in Intakes to make diagnostic decisions, and then utilization and/or costs for things such as: medications, hospitalizations, and subsequent number of visits to each of the various MH  provider groups (psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, counselor) over a two year period could be tracked.  I think our resources would be well spent. 



Kathleen M. McNamara, Ph.D., ABPP

Lead Professional, Psychology

Staff Psychologist, Maui VA CBOC





From: avaplmembers-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:avaplmembers-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Hagans, Chad L.
Sent: Thursday, October 14, 2010 7:59 AM
To: members1@xxxxxxxxx
Subject: [AVAPL Members] Re: Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor


Right, but how much money does it save when you use it? J


I think that’s the question the people making the decisions are asking, unfortunately.


Now, is anyone in our field working on answering that question?



Chad Hagans, Ph.D.

Licensed Psychologist

Pensacola Joint Ambulatory Care Clinic

850-912-2000 ext. 2091


From: avaplmembers-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:avaplmembers-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Evans, F. Barton
Sent: Thursday, October 14, 2010 12:55 PM
To: members1@xxxxxxxxx
Subject: [AVAPL Members] Re: Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor


Well said, William. 


There is an  empirically well supported treatment method called Therapeutic Assessment (TA) developed by Dr. Stephen Finn in Austin which integrates psychological assessment and treatment.  There was even a study done at the Denver VA successfully using TA with suicidal veterans. If anyone is interested, I would be glad to send information next week.



F Barton Evans, PhD

Clinical Psychologist

VA Montana Health Care System

Bozeman CBOC

Bozeman, MT 59715


Clinical Professor

Department of Psychiatry and

  Behavioral Science

George Washington University

  School of Medicine



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From: avaplmembers-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:avaplmembers-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Crisp, William
Sent: Thursday, October 14, 2010 11:01 AM
To: members1@xxxxxxxxx
Subject: [AVAPL Members] Re: Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor


What sets psychologists apart and makes them valuable is their training and ability to conduct research and do assessments. Many psychologists seem to have ignored these assets in favor of developing things like manualized training which opens the door for other disciplines to do our work.  In many VA settings research and assessment are discouraged as time consuming and less important than therapy, case management  and documentation.  Instead psychologists should develop protocols which emphasize both assessment and research as guides to treatment.  This could greatly improve treatment over generic style manualized treatment and demonstrate the value of psychologists.


William Crisp, Ph.D.

Clinical Psychologist

Substance Treatment Employment Program

Central Texas Veteran’s Health care System

Temple, TX


From: avaplmembers-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:avaplmembers-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Hagans, Chad L.
Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 8:03 AM
To: members1@xxxxxxxxx
Subject: [AVAPL Members] Re: Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor


In my opinion just another failure by psychology to demonstrate empirically the value of what we offer over and above the value of what other mental health professionals offer, if indeed that value exists.  I’d like to think it does because I’m a psychologist, but to say it does without empirical evidence would indicate bias more than anything else in my opinion.


It’s time to get to work and demonstrate the value.  Who wants to do the work?



Chad Hagans, Ph.D.

Licensed Psychologist

Pensacola Joint Ambulatory Care Clinic

850-912-2000 ext. 2091


From: avaplmembers-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:avaplmembers-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Long, Stephen [Northport]
Sent: Thursday, October 07, 2010 3:30 PM
To: 'members1@xxxxxxxxx'
Subject: [AVAPL Members] Re: Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor


Edgardo, you sound the way I feel at times like these.


It is very difficult to see so much of what one has worked for (developing skills, making what contributions you can, getting doctoral and postdoctoral training) over a professional career to have much of that devalued, denied, dismissed.


om: avaplmembers-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:avaplmembers-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Kirchberg, Thomas
Sent: Thursday, October 07, 2010 11:49 AM
To: members1@xxxxxxxxx
Subject: [AVAPL Members] Re: Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor


Thank you, Edgardo.  I value your viewpoint on all the issues you raise!




Thomas M. Kirchberg, Ph.D., ABPP

Chief Psychologist

Mental Health Service

VA Medical Center Memphis

901-523-8990 ext. 5320


From: avaplmembers-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:avaplmembers-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Padin, Edgardo (VHACLE)
Sent: Wednesday, October 06, 2010 9:55 PM
To: members1@xxxxxxxxx
Subject: [AVAPL Members] Re: Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor


By interesting, I’m sure you mean discouraging.  After 20+ years in the VA, I continue to be astounded at how so many other professions continue to have sufficient advocacy to increase their grade levels commensurate with their responsibilities (case in point, Social Workers continue a juggernaut rise in grade with each new “position” created (most now seemingly needing GS-12 grades) while psychologist have an almost insurmountable task getting approvals at the GS-14 level.  The data notwithstanding (that we have increased the number of GS-14 positions), the success of our Hybrid T38 and Professional Standards Boards have been underwhelming. 


This is not to start an old argument about our glass ceiling as psychologists in the VA; but it is to say that this new initiative to bring in and somehow “Qualify” Master’s Level Counselors is a lobbyist win by Master’s Level Counselors and Counseling Programs to establish their niche in the VA.  And it will ultimately be to the detriment of Psychology.  A system of lower entry pay entry “counselors” who can rise to the GS-13 by taking on greater responsibility means fewer Psychologists will be needed as they become overseers of a cadre counselors doing more of the supposed “drone” work of fully manualized and technicalized therapy.  What a Brave New World.  Anyone who thinks this is not the case should look at the private sector and see how lower level “Assistants” are replacing part of the work (and the pay) of their more educated colleagues. 


Let me clarify here that I have nothing against Master’s Level Counselors, we have used them in Cleveland ever since I have been here.  I don’t know who is trying to kid whom whey they say that this is a “new position” of Mental Health Counselor, but we have had GS101-11 Readjustment Counselors in the VA for well over thee decades. They have limitations, but have worked out well in the areas we have used them.  But what I do know is that not a single one has ever shown that they have some secret knowledge or facility or skill and foundational learning that is different from, greater than, or particularly more technical in nature that Psychologists.  Usually, they have less.  The only difference now is that some accreditation body (CACREP) can now be added as a profession lobbying body in the VA.  Personally, I am not amused.  


So, maybe we as Psychologists are too educated, maybe manualized, evidence  based protocols are making our “therapy” work too rote and straightforward for the amount of pay we are demanding, maybe what we do, with a good cookbook here and an evidence based therapy there, can be done by cheaper labor.  I’m not sure; but I will say that with this cannon shot of promoting our Master’s Level colleagues, we will find out.  End of rant.  


From: avaplmembers-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:avaplmembers-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Fischer, Pamela (OKL)
Sent: Wednesday, October 06, 2010 10:52 AM
To: members1@xxxxxxxxx
Subject: [AVAPL Members] Re: Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor


It is interesting to me that the LPC who is a program manager can be a GS 13 – the grade level that many psychologists who manage programs and have years of experience cannot move beyond.


Pamela C. Fischer, Ph.D.

Director, Primary Care Mental Health #111AC

Veterans Affairs Medical Center -OKC

921 N.E. 13th Street

Oklahoma City, OK 73104

Phone: 405-456-3634

Fax:     405-456--5956

From: avaplmembers-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:avaplmembers-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Shorter, George Wiley
Sent: Tuesday, October 05, 2010 8:54 AM
To: members1@xxxxxxxxx
Subject: [AVAPL Members] Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor




As many of you have been awaiting the Qualification Standards for Mental Health Counselors, we wanted to share these with you when we first received it.



George Shorter, Ph.D.

President, AVAPL



"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their country."   -George Washington






Date:  9/29/10                                                  ID#: 2010-25

Policy Office:  Recruitment & Placement Policy Service (059)
Kent A. Wellman (Kent.Wellman2@xxxxxx)
Policy Subject:  VA Handbook 5005, PT II, Chapter 2, Appendix G43, Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor qualification standard.

Handbook Reference: 5005

The attached new VA qualification standard for Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor, GS-101 has been signed.  Since this is a new occupation to VA there will NOT be an initial one-time boarding.  Additional implementation instructions and guidance will be forthcoming from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).  The new Appendix G43 will be added to the electronic version of VA Handbook 5005, Pt II, located at http://vaww1.va.gov/ohrm/HRLibrary/Dir-Policy.htm

Questions regarding this Policy Update should be addressed to the Title 38 Staffing Policy Section, mailto:staffingpolicy059/vaco@xxxxxx.

Status: Policy Process Step 4

Estimated date of release/implementation:  9/29/2010

This policy alert e-mail is part of a notification process that is intended to alert HR Specialists and other interested parties that a new policy or change to existing policy is required or being considered. If you have specific questions regarding this policy alert, please address them to the contact person named above. Policy update e-mails regarding this policy subject will be automatically generated according to the policy communication schedule/timeline. For more information about this policy alert or the policy communication schedule/timeline please go to http://vaww.va.gov/ohrm/





I agree

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