Monday, July 11, 2011

What Kind of "Doctor" is Marcus Bachmann?

Over the weekend, Truth Wins Out and The Nation exposed the truth about Michele Bachmann's husband's Christian counseling service: It tries to "cure" gay people with harmful, quack-science "ex-gay" therapy.

On the web site of Bachmann and Associates, readers are invited to "meet Dr. Marcus Bachmann" who's been "a clinical therapist in the Twin Cities for more than 20 years." But what kind of "doctor" is Marcus Bachmann and where did he get his degree? In his bio Bachmann lists a masters degree from Pat Robertson's Regent University in Virginia. The bio also lists a "PhD – Clinical Psychology, Union Graduate School, OH." As blogger JARS points out in a well-researched post, the punctuation he uses is "PhD," which should be Ph.D." Okay, that could be just a style choice, as a commenter points out, and people do use both. But it's important because he may or may not have a doctor of philosophy in clinical psychology. And the Union Graduate School no longer exists. Bachmann got a doctoral degree in something from a shady university that came under scrutiny from the Ohio Board of Regents and whose graduate school was dissolved:

The Union Institute's Ph.D. program came under scrutiny by the Ohio Board of Regents in the late 1990s, early 2000s which culminated in its 2002 Reauthorization Report. The report was critical of the Union Institute's Ph.D. program, noting in particular that " ... expectations for student scholarship at the doctoral level were not as rigorous as is common for doctoral work ... " (OBR 2002 Reauthorization Report, page 13) As a result, The Union was put on probation, the Union Graduate School was dissolved and the Ph.D. program was restructured.
JARS goes on to write that it seems highly suspect that Marcus Bachmann has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology because, if you follow the timeline, the school wasn't offering it:
What does all this mean? On his website Dr. Bachmann states he’s had 23 years experience. Simple math brings us to the year 1988. If Dr. Bachmann’s Ph.D. was completed prior to this date, he might have graduated from The Union Graduate School which offered ONLY a Ph.D. in Arts and Sciences. If he graduated later than 1986, then he would have graduated from The Union Institute (1986), or The Union Institute and University (2001) and his Ph.D. would have been in Interdisciplinary Studies.

If in fact Dr. Marcus Bachmann graduated from this institute, whatever it was named at the time, he would not have graduated with a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. The ONLY doctorate in Clinical Psychology was offered after 2001, and the degree is a Psy.D. (Doctor of Psychology) and not a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy).
JARS doubts in his post that Bachmann is even a licensed therapist.But Politico indeed confirms that he is not licensed and that Minnesota is one of the few states where you can practice therapy without a license:
The Minnesota Board of Psychology and the Board of Marriage and Family Therapy confirmed to POLITICO that Bachmann is not licensed with them. And a search of the Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy license database returns no result.

Trisha Stark, of the Minnesota Psychological Association, said that the title “clinical therapist” is not widely used in professional circles and that Bachmann is able to operate his clinic because of state rules regarding mental health practice.

“Minnesota is one of the only states in which you can practice mental health without a license,” Stark said.

Hopefully some reporters will ask Michele Bachmann directly about these issues, though after seeing some of the softball interviews on TV I'm not holding my breath.