Whose stamp of approval makes a program credible? How do parents determine what is best for the education of their child? How do we as adults determine what is best for our mental health treatment, or treatment for a child? The decision making is all intimately related.

Over the past few weeks I have been glimpsing at portions of the newspaper which I have neglected enjoying for six months due to lack of time. When Eric Jaffe wrote his piece in the LA Times regarding the issue of bringing scientific scrutiny into psychotherapy to determine the programs efficacy, I glommed on like warm gum on the sidewalk to a tennis shoe coming by. This similar/same issue of credibility in education took us to state testing being all meaningful and research based education programs as the apogee of educational standards. There has been no noticeable improvement in education for years. The U.S. continues to fail in graduating the quality of students we seek to employ from abroad to make our country function. The lack of applied reasoning seasoned with the emotionality of issues has helped grow the sour grapes we can not make into wine for either education or mental health care.

At the crux of what Eric Jaffe wrote is the simplicity of ‘accrediting’ those who can vs. accrediting those who will follow a didactic, linear approach which ultimately saves money for the institution (industry) most capable of spinning and marketing their ideas to an ignorant public.

Following along with the logic of all the pieces written 11 January 2010 in the LA Times Health Section, would be the race in the last 10-15 years to ‘credential’ teachers through any program possible (http://www.theapple.monster.com a piece entitled Alternate Routes to Teacher Certification 20 January 20100, especially for people looking to make a career change AND bonus to TFA! It is the same logic – we can teach your child by a research proven, scientifically validated, evidence based research methods (http://www.thebestevidence.org and http://www.ed.gov/nclb/methods/whatworks/edpicks.jhtml) recipe that continues to fail children as there is no longitudinal data to show that these programs have indeed improved education. In fact, according to my previous blog, we are still not even sure what makes a great teacher except it appears to be linked to good multiple choice test scores – the most ludicrous measure of success.

Clearly I want my heart surgeon to tell me how successful he is on multiple choice tests about the heart instead of telling me how many intricate surgeries he has done requiring his flexible thoughts and creative skill (not measureable by any multiple choice test). There is no research to show a doctor who does well on multiple choice tests is a better surgeon; an attorney who does well on multiple choice tests is better at representing a client or perhaps an MBA who did better on his multiple choice tests in business school is better at ravaging the public banking system.

The upside to all that has happened in the name of research proven education is the increase in charter schools, TFA and all the ancillary programs who have huge marketing budgets and people gifted in spin as to the upsurge in test scores with more minority/poverty stricken students entering college, BUT NO DEMONSTRABLE PROOF ANYWHERE that there are more students graduating college……..which would be at least one way of demonstrating better research proven education programs.

Applying the above logic in education to the logic used by the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System, we as a society should look forward to more people with mental illness getting less help or inadequate care for a long term health issue (mental health). This would also mean more prisoners in prison (the number one precipitating factor to entering the system is mental illness) or being released on a revolving policy and more unproductive members of society as it is already known that there are insufficient services for people of low income and who may also be non-white (specifically in the realm of clinical depression, but definitely apparent in all mental health issues). New law may aid therapy options/Eric Jaffe 11 January 2010 delineates more surrounding the passage of Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act which went into effect 1 January 2010, which seems to have more to do with costs than efficacy or productiveness of the mental health treatment and the qualifications of the provider.

While the answers are certainly not clear as potable water, there has to be more to the discussion than immediacy and money. Time is money and as the saying goes, ‘If you don’t have time or money to re-do the job correctly, do it right the first time’. In education we keep plodding along and re-doing or attempting to undo that which has not worked – and it shows. Following our poor choices with mental health in the realm of research proven most undoubtedly will produce similar results. Can we make it with shoddy education and mental health solutions?