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Editorial: To License Or Not to License? That is the Question: Or, If We Make a Profession, Will They Come?

The Behavior Analyst Today 2007, Wntr, 8, 1

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With many state and federal agencies pushing for accountability and evidence supporting the effectiveness of behavioral health practice (see New Freedom Commission's Report on Mental Health, 2003) and behavior analysis's unique contribution to evidenced based practice (see O'Donohue & Ferguson, 2006), many states are giving the professionalization of behavior analysis a second look. This is a second look, because professionalizing behavior analysis through regulation and licensure was proposed before, in the 1970s. The context then was very different. The focus was on an effort to balance the potential of behavior modification with the tendency for abuse. Like today, many in the field opposed it suggesting it was a danger to the advancement of the field (e.g., Goldiamond, 1975). While many of the arguments today appear to be a rehashing of those past arguments, as a field, we undoubtedly have an advantage this time: a learning history. From the past round of events with the correctional system, we can look at the outcomes and reflect upon them to help decide our current choices. This brief editorial attempts to look at the environment at the time, the behavioral responses our field made, and the contingencies that the larger culture responded with and subsequent effects on the field of those contingencies. In the late 1960s, a growing disillusionment with the prison system in the U.S. occurred. Ramsey Clark (1970) a former U.S. attorney general stated "Prisons in the United States today are more often than not manufactures of crime ... [They] are usually little more than places to keep people-warehouse of human degradation" (p. 213). Criminologists argued that the prison system functioned as a training ground for crime (e.g., Wilkins, 1969). These growing concerns led the Federal Bureau of Prisons in the 1970s began to assign the planning and management of inmate programs to treatment teams, which at the time had psychologists and psychiatrists who had an interest in "behavior modification." Several other antecedents favored behavior modification in general and behavior analysis programs in particular moving into prisons. These factors included a growing consensus that sociopathy was impossible to treat by traditional psychotherapy (Cleckley, 1976; McCord & McCord, 1964) and that the medical model was declining in its influence in prisons (Allen & Gatz, 1974). In addition, the Federal Bureau of Prisons in an effort to combat recidivism set three goals for the prison system: (1) inmates would leave with at east a six grade reading level (2) prisons would help inmates get a high school diploma or equivalence and (3) job skill training.

Editorial: To License Or Not to License? That is the Question: Or, If We Make a Profession, Will They Come?
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  • 2,99 €
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Psychology
  • Published: 01 January 2007
  • Publisher: Behavior Analyst Online
  • Print Length: 16 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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