Russian psychologists demand a revision of the provisions of the bill On Psychological Aid

Discussions by the professional community of the Federal Law "On Psychological Assistance in the Russian Federation"

On October 5, 2022, the Russian Parliamentary Committee on Family, Women and Children sent a draft of the Federal Law "On Psychological Aid in the Russian Federation" for discussion by the professional community. Its text has caused anxiety not only among experienced practicing psychologists but also among those who are just about to enter the profession. The concerns of specialists are connected with a number of drawbacks, unclear innovations and educational requirements.

In this regard, on October 17, 2022, the online school of psychological professions «Psychodemia» organized a meeting, where representatives of business, education and practice of psychology discussed the bill in order to formulate their own recommendations. The participants unanimously came to the conclusion that the text of the possible law does not take into consideration the private practice of the psychologist-consultant and requires improvement as the adoption of the bill in this wording may cause negative consequences both for psychologists and their clients. Following the meeting, the experts compiled a letter describing their demands and sent it to the Russian Psychological Association and the National Professional Psychotherapeutic League.

"We do not understand the status of people who entered the profession after retraining on the basis of higher education. There are many high-level experts with decades of additional practical training under their belt, but they have no higher psychological education,
- notes Maria Danina, psychologist, founder of the online school of psychological professions «Psychodemia». - Imagine that you have been working as a psychologist for many years, and they send you to university for a bachelor's degree to study memory models - it does not help a specialist who has already established himself professionally."

According to the roundtable participants, the adoption of the bill in its current form may cause a number of difficulties. For example, the increase in the gray area of helping professionals potentially threatens the fact that people who do not meet the new requirements will continue to work with clients, simply not calling themselves psychologists. In addition, the services themselves will become more expensive and less accessible. If a psychologist has to spend even more time and money to comply with the new requirements for the profession, he or she will have to increase the cost of his or her consultations as well.

In addition, new requirements can cause an increase in corruption. Now the draft law stipulates that only one organization will issue certificates to all psychologists, which creates grounds for bribery. There is also a risk of decrease in the quality of psychological aid. The criteria for certification of psychologists and the list of persons, who will carry it out, are unknown. If unqualified specialists are certified, they can harm people who turn to them for help. Their clients may develop a negative perception of psychological help in general, and they will not seek it in the future.

Another negative consequence is the threat of a breach of confidentiality. The bill says that the psychologist will be forced to report information about clients to various bodies, including the Federal Penitentiary Service. The psychological community fundamentally disagrees with the actual equation of medical secrecy with psychological secrecy. Experts believe that the work of a psychologist with a client should be confidential and comparable to the secrecy of confessions.

"This bill was drafted by very respected people, but they unfortunately do not work directly with clients, and may miss the context of private practice. For 24 pages of the bill, I personally had 113 questions,"
adds Ionah Gusachenko, psychologist and specialist at the «Pure Cognitions» online school. - It is extremely important that the new requirements have been worked out in cooperation with business and practicing psychologists to consider them for relevance and real issues."

Thus, the roundtable participants offered their own recommendations:

• Accredit professional retraining programs, not psychologists themselves

Successful passing of the accredited programs is guaranteed by the organization, which evaluates the results of students' training and issues the appropriate documentary evidence. In this case there is no need for additional attestation and the development of unified universal requirements;

• To establish a transitional period of introduction of the law for not less than 7 years

It is necessary for this period to have time to develop practices of real application of the law and the solution of questions which will inevitably arise during its introduction;

• To provide for the accounting of the education system, which was before the bachelor's and master's degree, as well as retraining

Professionals working under the old standards of education should not be deprived of the right to practice and be included in the registry. Instead, they can be offered re-credentialing of academic disciplines, which they can document;

• Eliminate the concept of "outcome"

A psychologist cannot guarantee the achievement of a certain result in their work;

• To expand the rights of the psychologist

In particular, to grant the right to refuse to work with a client if this contradicts his/her views.

• Exclude the Federal Penitentiary Service from the list of organizations to which psychologists must provide information about their clients

The meeting was organized by the online school of psychological professions «Psychodemia» and its founder Maria Danina. The recording of the online meeting can be viewed at the link.

This content was first published by KISS PR Brand Story. Read here >> Russian psychologists demand a revision of the provisions of the bill On Psychological Aid

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