Really! There is no legal acronym for registered interns use. I swear it is true.
Last month I wrote about the increasing use of an illegal acronym by registered interns which I had noticed in a group on LinkedIn. Within two days of that article being published in a variety of settings I received a call from a gentleman who was recently disciplined by the Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapists and Mental Health Counselors (hereafter, Board). He is required to retake the 8-hour Laws and Rules course and pay fines, attorney fees and more. What was his offense? He failed to appropriately identify himself on business cards as a “registered mental health counselor intern” rather he used that acronym I wrote about R.H.M.C.I. (aka RMHCI).
Okay, I wasn’t but I am gonna say it, “I told you so.” He is not the first nor last registered intern who is in the process or going to be disciplined for this violation. I will go on to say that the complaint included additional violations which I discuss at another time.
What distressed me most about this call was the defensiveness and blaming that the individual manifested while we were talking. In my 24 years of practice here in Florida more than 15 of those have involved providing continuing education to a number of Board disciplined individuals. Everyone has a story, an explanation, justification or something to say about how their situation was exaggerated, taken out of context or someone just took things too far. They rarely tell the whole situation (e.g., this fellow had two additional more serious counts in the Administrative Complaint to which he didn’t refer at all). This is so far from the values of integrity and honesty that are at the core of our clinical practices. I get it, it is difficult, painful even, to be honest with ourselves and take responsibility for our actions. But, if we expect our clients to do so with us why can’t we take the high road when our actions are determined to violate a law (or two or three)?
Another person emailed me a couple of days later to say that registered interns that she met at a networking event were distributing business cards without their proper designation spelled out. She said that when she corrected them “they looked at me like I was crazy, they were in denial and disbelief”. She further reported that one of them had “just had their cards made and was going to use them anyway!!!”
Last week at a qualified supervision course I was provided one of the participants reported seeing many registered interns listed on the Psychology Today website with the dreaded acronym proudly emblazoned on their profiles in a direct violation of the law. Okay, she didn’t say that last part. I was being dramatic. But, this next isn’t sarcasm: Colleagues, peers, and supervisors please keep correcting registered interns about this matter and if they won’t desist, report them to the Board…otherwise you will be in violation of the law, too.
(c) 2014 Dr. C. L. Waltz (contact Dr. Waltz for permission to use this material)