Fake counsellors

Motivational trainers and career counsellors have been accused of practising as clinical psychologists after obtaining fake Doctor of Letters (D.Litt) certificates from fictitious universities in the country and abroad.

Among them there a few school teachers and government employees too, claims Jithin K, president, Malabar chapter, Indian Association of Clinical Psychologists.

They are found to attend to the problems of children aged below 15, and in some cases teenagers. “Some of them are even prescribing medicines for depression, stress, and anxiety and learning disabilities among children. There are others who prescribe Unani medicines,” he said.

This follows reports that around half a dozen fake universities are found to be selling fake D.Litt certificates in Kerala and the recipients reportedly include senior officials in the Education Department.

Mr. Jithin told The Hindu on Sunday that a clinical psychologist should have a regular postgraduate degree in psychology from a recognised university and an M.Phil in hospital-based clinical psychology.

The M.Phil course is offered by only two institutions in Kerala – Kozhikode-based Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences and the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Kochi.

He claimed that the Mental Healthcare Act, 2016, had defined only clinical psychologists, psychiatric social workers, and psychiatric nurses who had either a postgraduate degree or a diploma in psychiatry, as mental healthcare professionals.

The Right to Persons with Disabilities Act, 2017, had clarified that only those who were registered under the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI) could attend to problems such as learning disability among children, mental retardation, and autism, Mr. Jithin said.

He claimed that the association had approached the RCI with a list of unrecognised practitioners that was forwarded to the Disability Commissioner. It had also filed police cases against fake degree holders.

Mr. Jithin said that the association would urge the government to regulate the sector as even government staff were found to be the culprits.

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