Is Your Psychotherapist Qualified?

CBS/January 16, 2004

Philadelphia -- Carol Diament thought her problems were over when she read about a cutting edge marriage counselor in the local paper.

"I just didn't know enough about therapy," she told CBS News Correspondent Jim Acosta. "I was naive."

Instead of fixing her marriage Carol's psychologist, Pat Mansmann, came up with a startling diagnosis -- repressed memories.

"They had me convinced that my parents had raised me in a Satanic cult," Diament said. "That my father had sexually abused me even prior to that."

Carol says Mansmann prescribed two controversial treatments. One was "rage therapy" which included beating pillows while screaming. The other, "detachment therapy." Mannsman urged Carol to move out of her home, away from her family.

"You ended up losing your family over this?" asked Acosta.

"I did," she replied. "My children haven't spoken to me in ten years."

After nearly a year with a different therapist, Carol found out her memories of abuse were implanted by Mansmann. So she sued, as have other former patients.

Even though Mansmann surrendered her license to avoid prosecution, her office, Genesis Associates, remains open, posting ads for her psychotherapy services.

Mansmann wouldn't explain to us what she's doing.

You'd think you'd need a license to practice as a therapist. But the fact is, most state laws allow just about anybody to offer counseling services.

Take psychotherapist Zoe D. Katze.

"You had your cat certified by the American Psychotherapy Association?" Acosta asked.

"Correct," replied owner Steven Eichel, who is a psychologist.

All it took was an application and a doctored resume. Why the charade? To prove that it's too easy for amateurs to be certified as psychotherapists. Like one man who was caught flaunting false credentials in an undercover video.

"It doesn't matter what their background is," noted Acosta.

"Apparently it doesn't matter what species they are," Eichel said.

The real experts warn it's up to patients to check credentials on state Web sites, and challenge treatment methods.

"Unfortunately, individuals who have mental health problems can be in a very vulnerable state," said Russ Newman, director of the American Psychology Association. "That's one reason why a lot education needs to take place."

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