So Easy But So Far Away

How can the discriminatory divide in psychology be solved? Achieving unity should not be a hard task. There is no empirical evidence supporting the divide. Just treat everyone fairly. Simple and easy, you would think. Put everyone on the same tier and the problem is solved. The question is why the APS and the clinical faction are so resistant to this, even when the government has indicated in discussions that the most obvious solution is a one-tier system. Does self-interest trump morality, at least for some?

This came up a few years ago when I was speaking with a friend who is a clinical psychologist and who has been opposed to the two-tier system since the day it was announced.

We often meet over meals with other colleagues, most of them non-clinical, and discuss our work. My friend repeated what she has said many times before, “There is obviously no difference between us. We do the same work, and we are equal in our competencies. I don’t know more than you and am not better than you as a psychologist in any way. We each use many methods; we’re not different in what we do with clients.”

But she admitted that since a higher rebate was available for her, she was gladly using it.

I asked her, “What if the government decides to introduce a one-tier system?”

She said, “On the moral and emotional levels, I would be happy because I would know it’s the right decision.”

“What about if we all got the lower rebate?”, I asked.

“That would be hard”, she said. “I would be happy morally and emotionally. No doubt about that. But I am being frank with you. I am human. I would not be happy financially.”

She tried to explain that while knowing it has been unfair, over the past 10 years, she has got used to being paid more for her work.

Relevant members of the government are well aware that there is disunity in the profession and the roles the APS and the clinical faction have played in this. It has been suggested that the higher rebate will not be lowered to achieve unity – probably due to the backlash this would engender politically. It has been communicated that the profession needs to work this out among themselves and come to an understanding about the way forward. The question is how we achieve this when self-interest in the APS is clearly overriding other values such as morality and fairness. Is it sufficient to say that when we succumb to our baser instincts, we are simply being human?

Is it time to leave the APS to the clinicals and join forces with the AAPI?

Watch out for the APS Green paper on March 25th.