Friday, July 22, 2011

Court uses phony doctor

I posted before about my reader who is smoking out a local parenting coordinator who has blocked access to her grandkids. The grandma complained to Judge Heather Morse, and got back a letter saying only "I have looked into your concerns". The grandma complained to the ethics official of Monterey Bay Psychological Associaton for its Tamara Ellis, MFT, Ph.D. Profile Page. Apparently Ellis is a member and is using the Psychological Associaton to promote her bogus credentials. The ethics official (and psychologist) responded:
Thanks again for bringing your concern to my attention. I have made a thorough investigation as to the credibility of Dr. Ellis as well as the well being of your grandchildren in terms of their safety in psychotherapy. Rest assured that Dr. Ellis is indeed a Doctor of psychology who received her doctorate from Lewis and Clark under her married name. She is certified as a licensed marriage and family therapist which is the license she works under. As I had shared with you before, it is absolutely legal for an individual to refer to themselves with the title of "Dr.'" if they have received one, even if their professional license is under another degree.

... I would encourage you to consult a professional therapist of your choice in order to facilitate an improved sense of security about your worries and concerns as a loving grandmother.
Wow, what a putdown! G Katie Dashtban "made a thorough investigation" and not only does Dr. Ellis not have a Doctor of psychology from Lewis and Clark, but grandma needs psychotherapy for asking.

This really offensive. Grandma had some completely legitimate concerns about the care of her grandkids, and some psychologist official blows her off and tells her to get psychotherapy herself.

This would even be offensive if grandma were completely wrong about Ellis, but she is not wrong. Ellis has been married and divorced a couple of times, so tracking her by name is confusing, but she only has a masters degree from Lewis and Clark. Grandma got this response from the Registrar at Lewis & Clark College
We do have record of a Tami E. Saltz that completed her Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology in November of 1992. That was her last term of attendance. The first graduate form our doctoral program was in 2005.

We do not and have never offered a doctoral degree in psychology. The only doctorate program we have is a Doctorate in Education in Leadership. It is for school administrators with our first graduate in December of 2005.
So it appears that Ellis lied about having a PhD from Lewis & Clark. My guess is that she has a mail-order PhD degree from some diploma mill. It seems obvious that if she had a real degree from a real university, she would say so on her web site.

So why is grandma so eager to smoke Ellis out? This would all be just a petty case of a local quack exaggerating her credentials, but grandma's real complaint is that Ellis has used her authority with the court to sabotage the upbringing of her grandkids. Not only did Ellis restrict grandma to supervised visitation, but Ellis wrote the court order that the parents keep the kids on an antipsychotic drug that supposedly helps control behavior problems.

I don't know these kids, and I don't know the drug. It seems theoretically possible that the kids could be helped by the drug, but I really doubt it. This usage of antipsychotics is very controversial.

Whether this drug has some hope of helping these kids or not, I know for sure that a parent coordinator should not be claiming to have a PhD that she does not have, psychology associations should not have an ethics official who falsely vouches for charlatans and who tells the whistle-blower to get therapy, judges should not just acknowledge concerns and do nothing, the court should not be giving authority to people with bogus credentials, grandparents should not have to be supervised, the judge should not be relying on flaky therapists to write court orders, someone with only a masters degree in psychology should not be giving court opinions on the use of psychoactive prescription drugs, and family courts should not be giving parents orders to drug their kids to control behavior problems.

It seems silly to make such a big deal out of one court therapist's bogus credential. The bogus credential is not the problem. It is just a symptom of a whole set of much deeper and more serious problems.

Update: A comment says that Ellis's PhD appears to be from Rushmore University, an unaccredited school with a mailing address in the Cayman Islands. Its own website says, "The reality is that employers seldom investigate the accreditation of the school that a potential employee has attended."

Update: A reader confirms that Ellis got her PhD from Rushmore University on Nov. 15, 2007. That explains why she is no secretive about this phony degree.


Anonymous said...

I commented on your last post about Ellis after finding where her "PhD" is from. You may have missed it.

Anonymous said...

funny, I got a very similar reaction from not one but two psychs when I challenged them. The best defense in psych I guess is a good offense(ivness).