As the debate over the impending publication of the DSM-5 continues, it seems that Social Workers are finally stepping up to the platform to chime in about their opposition to this newest version of the DSM. In April 2012, Psychology Today and Dr. Allen Frances, Chair of the DSM-IV and of Duke’s Psychiatry Department, highlighted the opposition of two prominent social workers:Dr. Jack Carney, DSW and clinician and program director with over 40 years of experience in the mental health field, and Dr. Joanne Cacciatore grief researcher and founder of an international foundation addressing grief. In the article, both social workers kindly remind our profession of our Code of Ethics, and the standards which this code should uphold.
From Dr. Carney: “So what’s going on with social workers? It’s almost like asking ‘What’s the matter with Kansas … ?’ It seems like they and their professional organizations are voting against their own self-interest… Ultimately, however, most social workers, like most Kansas voters, are not motivated by self-interest but by core values and beliefs. Their acquiescence to the DSM-5 as currently composed signifies for me an abandonment of core principles—service to others; pursuit of social justice; respect for the worth of the persons being served; the importance of human relationships; and the salience of integrity and competence in social work practice (Code of Ethics @ www.socialworker.org)—and seriously undermines their fundamental mission of helping those who need it.”
From Dr. Cacciatore: ”According to the ethical standards of our discipline, social workers have a duty to act on the behalf of those we serve. In particular, we have a responsibility to influence peripheral forces that would further harm vulnerable populations…. We must also speak up for the many other people—children and the bereaved, for example —who may be over-diagnosed with criteria in the DSM-5 and thus may receive harmful and unnecessary medications that can cause many other psychological or physiological woes. Social workers should protect people from being inappropriately pathologized, treated, and medicated when it is unnecessary and also from work to reduce the over-diagnoses and stigma of mental illnesses, both for those who accept and embrace their diagnoses and those who don’t.”
Dr. Carney and Dr. Cacciatore stress a very important reminder, that it is not only our responsibility to ‘follow the rules’ and simply provide services but to also address the larger macro system in which our clients and ourselves function. Not putting our voice into the debate about the new DMS is simply a misrepresentation of our profession as disinterested and disengaged, or perhaps it reflects our place as one of the most over burdened career paths in mental health and other fields. Furthermore, the mere fact that the entities which represent us, specifically the NASW, has also not voiced their outrage or even their opinions on the DSM-, shows that we are in a poor state when it comes to realistically servicing our clients to the best of our abilities.
So, what can you do to voice your opposition? Dr. Carney and Dr. Cacciatore suggest several things. From Dr. Carney:
“1. Read the Open Letter (developed by the Society for Humanistic Psychology, Division 32 of the American Psychological Association) and sign the petition …http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/dsm5/
2. E-mail the Board of Directors of NASW and ask them to endorse the petition … President@naswdc.org;
3. Spread the word to your social work brothers and sisters. There’s still time to put a stop to the DSM. Don’t mourn, organize!!”
The Open Letter discusses, in length, the rational and reasons why many oppose the DSM-5, and has backing by many counsels, associations, societies, and organizations. The letter calls for 50,000 signatures, and currently has 14,835. Please consider providing your input if you that concerns with, or oppose, the new DSM-5.
Written By Georgianna Dolan-Reilly, LMSW
SJS Staff Writer
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Thank you for covering this important topic. It is a matter of discussion and debate here at the SSW as we try to figure out how to best prepare our students for professional practice (and the licensing exam, of course).
You are welcome Anna! I would love to know what Stony Brook is doing to address these chances. How is the cirriculum being chanced? Do you know if the licensing exam itself will be chanced? Perhaps you could give us an insider view of the implications these chances could have at that level 😉
Hi, Georgianna. Thanks for writing about this and drawing attention to social workers’ acquiescence to — or as John Read has termed it, “colonization” by — the APA and the DSM. What folks can do now is sign on to our Boycott DSM-5 Statement, which Joanne and I were instrumental in drafting — http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/boycott5 — and to sign on as a friend of the Boycott on our FB page — https://www.facebook.com/TheCommitteeToBoycott5 —
and read the articles posted on our info website — http://www.boycott5committee.com.
Additional articles by me about the DSM and other issues can be accessed at http://www.madinamerica.com/author/jcarney. Thanks again. Jack Carney
You are most welcome Dr. Carney, and thank you so much for updating us on what social workers can now do in regards to this issue as well as for voicing your concerns as a social workers. Would you mind if I shared your comment with our readers as a separate post?
If so, would you mind if we asked you a few questions via email and then published a brief ‘interview’ for our readers alone with the boycott information? It would be great for our readers to get some insider perspectives of how the changes came to be and the impacts it might have on particular practices and client groups. Please let me know if this is something you would be interested in and I can email you back the questions. My email is Georgia@socialjusticesolutions.org
Georgia, this is a very good article! It saddens me to think more helping professionals whether affiliated with social work, psychology, mental health or counseling are not speaking up and voicing concerns with the newest version of the DSM. Why is it that everyday life events are becoming a diagnosis? Why do the helping professions in general treat the DSM as ‘the bible’ and not advocate for change? What has happened to viewing/assessing a person looking at all areas of their life?
Medications are not always the solution. Sometimes what is needed is someone to just listen, and/or assistance to re-evaluate/re-structure their life and once given a diagnosis it is hard to take away. A diagnosis can follow an individual for many years or their whole life.
Deconstructing psychiatry’s DSM: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/feeling-relating-existing/201204/deconstructing-psychiatrys-ever-expanding-bible
Robert are you simply letting our readers know about this article or would you like us to create a story about it?