The topic at today's meeting of The Mental Health Professionals of Boca Raton was "2010: Trends, Predictions, and Vision for Mental Health In A New Decade." As usual the group provided great wisdom and insight. Ann Toback Bair,
1. Distance counseling will continue to grow in popularity.
2. Computer addictions of all types, including those related to pornography, shopping, and gambling, will become more problematic.
3. Health insurance companies will continue to limit mental health services as long as regulations allow them to do so. This practice is especially problematic in the field of addiction treatment where the trend is to increase the use of outpatient detox (seen as insufficient) and to limit outside providers (which can lead to a higher percentage of relapse). Some practitioners believe that the insurance companies are "starving them out" and this could result in unethical behaviors and other negative consequences.
4. If in fact we do have health care insurance reform more people will have health insurance and the insurance companies will demand that mental health professionals provide evidence based treatments. (Evidence based treatements are mental and behavioral health interventions that empirical research has shown to be effective for specific problems. Empirical research is based upon actual evidence, as opposed to theory or opinions, and can be replicated in follow-up studies.)
5. Graduate schools, desperate to stay afloat, will continue to lower their standards and pump-out less qualified practitioners.
6. Economic and other challenges will continue to create a tremendous need for psychotherapy. Some of this need will be met by self-help groups.
7. The general public is more aware of and open to the need for good mental health. This trend will continue as the media continues to normalize the use of mental health services. We will see more real people on TV with shows like Dr. Phil, Intervention, and Vh1's Sex Rehab With Dr. Drew as well as glimpses of relationships between fictional characters and their therapists - like Meryl Streep in It's Complicated and HBO's In Treatment and Tony Soprano.
8. Like professionals in other fields, mental health practitioners who have developed niche markets, strong client and referral bases, and strong credentials will succeed. Others will fall by the wayside.
9. Mental health practitioners (Psychologists, Clinical Social Workers, Mental Health Counselors, and Marriage and Family Therapists) will continue to compete with Psychics (who offer a quick-fix) and Life Coaches, many of whom are better trained in marketing then psychology. Sadly, disasters can results when clues that a client needs a more intensive mental health intervention are missed.
10. Mental health practitioners (Psychologists, Clinical Social Workers, Mental Health Counselors, and Marriage and Family Therapists) need to put their professional and theoretical differences aside and unite their lobbies, or lose leverage in the marketplace.
11. We all need to combine optimism with realism. Mental health practitioners will need to incorporate
12. Technological advances will continue to provide us with medical interventions that seem to go against nature. Mental health practitioners are positioned to assist families and medical ethicists in the decision-making process and the debate regarding who lives, dies, and receives services.
13. Mental health practitioners will continue to provide the guidance and advice that was previously offered by extended family members and/or spiritual leaders.
14. Psychopharmacological treatments, without the benefit of talk therapy, will continue to produce both addiction and drug related deaths, for those with celebrity (Heath Ledger, Brittany Murphy, Michael Jackson) and those without.
15. Wise medical doctors will utilize mental health practitioners and incorporate the practice of
16. Media circus divorces (Jon and Kate) will continue to decline in popularity with celebrity couples choosing instead to use the confidential process of mediation to negotiate their break-ups. The public will continue to follow suit.