Friday, October 25, 2002
Volume 1, Issue 41
SEE THE CAT? SEE THE CREDENTIALS?
BY MARK HANSEN
Zoe D. Katze has an impressive-looking set of
credentialsPh.D., C.Ht., DAPA. She has been board-certified
by three major hypnotherapy associations and holds diplomate status
in the American Psychotherapy Association.
But Zoes not just any cat. Shes Philadelphia psychologist Steve K.D. Eichels cat. Eichel had a point he had been wanting to make about the proliferation of bogus credentialing organizations over the past 10 or 20 years.
So he decided to credential his cat.
do that, Eichel first had to get his cat some credit, which turned
out to be the hardest part of the process. The credit card companys
agent initially asked for Zoes Social Security number, Eichel
says, but cheerfully relented when Eichel told him it wasnt
readily available. Zoe was then added to Eichels account as
an authorized user.
To get Zoe her first credential, Eichel says, he simply filled out an "application for certification" on a lay hypnosis associations Web site and charged the fee to his credit card under Zoes name. Since most lay hypnosis associations have reciprocity agreements, he says, it was a snap getting Zoe board-certified by two other credentialing organizations.
Eichel then decided to go for the gold: diplomate
status in the American Psychotherapy Association, which, according
to its own promotional literature, "is limited to a select group
of professionals who, by virtue of their extensive training and expertise,
have demonstrated their outstanding abilities in regard to their specialty."
The APA, to its credit, requested a copy of Zoes resumé before it would issue her any credentials, Eichel says. So he made one up. And its a real doozy.
The name itself is the first clue as to Zoes
true identity. In German, "Zoe Die Katze" translates to
"Zoe the Cat." And Eichel didnt stop there. He listed
a previous job with the St. Felix (as in "Felix the Cat")
Home for Children. And he gave her a consulting position with the
Tacayllaermi Friends School, the first name of which is "Im
really a cat" spelled backwards.
Rochester, N.Y., psychologist Michael A. Baer, chairman of the APA's executive advisory board, says the association has a system of checks and balances in place to prevent something like this from happening.
"I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but the truth is, this one just slipped right through the cracks," he says.
Baer says Zoe's credentials have since been revoked. And the association has taken steps to tighten its credentialing procedures.
"We don't want anything like this to ever happen again," he says.
Eichel says he suspects that Zoes unmasking will make some people very angry.
As a matter of fact, it already has. Eichel has just been informed that Capital One MasterCard, which issued him the credit card he used to get his cats credentials, is investigating a report of credit card fraud against him and Zoe. The report lists Jerome Beacham, training director of the International Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy Association, one of the three organizations that issued Zoe credentials, as the source of the complaint.
But Eichel also hopes the episode will inspire others to demand changes in the way some credentialing is done:
"Limiting a credential to Homo sapiens would be a good start."
©2002 ABA Journal