Should therapists have the right to diagnose patients? That was the question behind a seven-year court battle that had implications for mental health patients throughout the country. It was a relief to learn that “Texas State Supreme Court ruled in February that Marriage and Family Therapists would retain their right to diagnose. The Texas Medical Association, which brought the lawsuit, had argued that only medical doctors should have the ability to diagnose mental, emotional, and behavioral problems.” I am a clinician and I call bullshit on The Texas Medical Association and their argument that “diagnosis equated to the practice of medicine.”
I do not prescribe medicine, instead I am a part of an amazing interdisciplinary team of nurses, providers, psychologists, and social workers who can help based on therapeutic skills that go above and beyond textbook knowledge. Mental health assessment and diagnosis can be a sensitive topic. It requires a level of vulnerability on the part of the client to make an accurate diagnosis. To elicit honest and transparent responses, I know that value in whether a client’s medication should be adjusted or discontinued. In my role as a professor and someone who has been on the journey to become a social worker and clinician, I agree with the sentiments of the students. The first year of graduate school is learning about theory and the techniques of therapy, community building, and resources. I recall having the opportunity to learn a great deal of information.
However, eventually I had to step into the role that I refer to not as intern, but as junior therapist as they treat you like working staff. This led me to take what I learned at the university and apply it to the real world- fine-tuning book knowledge as each person and each case has its individual needs. I now hold skills which help which help me look beyond the content of a person’s story, and into their mental health and physical wellbeing. So, yes, those who are not a doctor but work in the social service sector and whom are licensed under fair conditions should be able to diagnose individuals.