Qualifications, Ethics, Tricycle, Branding, etc.

Since I brought up psychology yesterday I’m going to continue on with something related, but in a somewhat less humorous [or surreal depending on your viewpoint] vein.

I noticed on the Tricycle website this post Introduction to Mindfulness with Meditation Doctor Andy Puddicombe .  It reads like a fairly slick advertising campaign and offers a bit about meditation and a few feel good analogies about blue skies.

I’ve got nothing against mindfulness meditation nor against clinical modalities such as MBSR. They have proven to be helpful for many suffering from psychological issues. Nor do I have any personal animosity towards Mr. Puddicombe himself. I’m going to assume he’s trying to be helpful. And even Tricycle magazine may have some concerns that reach beyond it’s own vaunted location just down the street from Goldman Sachs, which seems to merit mention in a number of articles.

One commenter, who was not me,  wrote:

What exactly is a "registered Clinical Mindfulness Consultant"? Registered with whom? I don’t believe it is right to cite qualifications that are dubious. Please clarify.

I wrote beneath that:

Is he an actual Doctor? That is a PhD or MD or DDS, etc? If not why is he being labeled as such? I can find no information on the Internet about him having achieved such a credential. Further to that I find no information regarding any training in psychology whatsoever. This link seems to have the most thorough biography yet there no mention of related training beyond Buddhist meditation. http://www.themedicalchambers.com/find-a-clinician/andy-puddicombe/

Here is the list of educational attainments from that link:
-Clinical Mindfulness Consultant and Founder of Headspace
– Full-time Monastic Training Palpung at Kham Tibet and now temporarily located at Bir India Institute Sherab Ling Monastery
-FdA Performing Arts Kent University
– HNC Sports Science DeMontfort University

How does any of that authorize someone to treat psychological issues, particularly things like depression?

Sure the NYT writes, "he has become something of a Dr. Phil of the yogi set." but Dr. Phil, like him or not, has a PhD in psychology. [source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/23/fashion/andy-puddicombes-meditation-fo… ]

So he’s popular in some circles. Just as popularity does not make someone enlightened, it also doesn’t make them qualified to deal with psychological issues.

To which Philip Ryan responded:

"Meditation Doctor" is Tricycle’s own label. Brad Warner filled the role in February.

Since Tricycle has suddenly decided to not let me respond by consigning me to the spam bin,

Screenshot - 4_2_2012 , 1_59_14 PM

…here is further response:

Then I apply the same criticism to using that label with Warner to some extent.

I realize it is a branding issue, like The Rug Doctor, which sells carpet cleaning services or The Company Doctor, which is a business consulting firm. It is easy to see that the label is being used euphemistically in those cases.

In this context the label is problematic because of the author’s claims to do some kind of psychotherapy. It is true that Brad Warner has advocated zazen for psychological issues and received a certain amount of pushback from the Internet for it, particularly when he discussed it in terms of PTSD treatment, for which it may not be advisable and may even be harmful. However Brad Warner does not advertise himself as a medical consultant.

Using the word "Doctor" in a context wherein actual credentials are relevant lends an amount of authority where no such authority might exist. This can mislead people into putting more weight onto an opinion than they otherwise might.

But it’s your magazine to label as you choose. Thanks for responding. It’s good to know where this is actually coming from if not from the participants themselves.

So there you go.

I’ll leave it up to you to decide if The Meditation Doctor is someone you want to pour all your troubles out to or not.

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By NellaLou Tagged

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