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DSM-5 Is Released to Criticism, and High Sales

Of the 157 specific mental disorders cataloged in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), 15 are new, two previous ones were dropped, and 50 existing diagnoses were collapsed into 22, according to a summary in The Washington Post. When the DSM-5 was released on May 22, its contents were not surprising to anyone following the revision process. 

The American Psychiatric Association (APA), publisher of the DSM-5, launched a standalone website about the DSM-5 in 2010. When its initial draft criteria were posted for comment in February 2010, more than 8,000 comments were submitted during a six-week period. Following a second open-comment period in 2011, more than 2,000 additional comments were received, according to an APA fact sheet. A third and final public comment period occurred in May 2012.

Like its revisions process, release of the DSM-5 has spurred much debate and controversy. With its official release in May, the $149 tome quickly moved into the bestseller categories on while at the same time, APA has had to defend the changes in the manual.

Here are excerpts of some criticisms leveled at the DSM-5:

  • In a Psychology Today blog, Allen Frances, MD, psychiatrist and former chair of APA’s DSM-IV Task Force, lambastes APA’s claim that its DSM-5 revisions process has been “transparent to an unprecedented degree,” calling it “Newspeak,” the derisive term writer George Orwell coined in the novel “1984” to describe a bureaucratic authority’s intentionally misleading speech.

“The strength of each of the editions of DSM has been “reliability”—each edition has ensured that clinicians use the same terms in the same ways. The weakness is its lack of validity. … 
“Patients with mental disorders deserve better. NIMH has launched the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) project to transform diagnosis by incorporating genetics, imaging, cognitive science, and other levels of information to lay the foundation for a new classification system. …
“RDoC is nothing less than a plan to transform clinical practice by bringing a new generation of research to inform how we diagnose and treat mental disorders.”

  • In Yahoo Health, see the section called “Does the DSM-5 Stigmatize Normal Behavior”:

“The DSM-5 Task Force reports that it conducted “field trials” to evaluate the impact of certain diagnoses and estimates that, in general, the rates of these disorders using DSM-5 criteria “are slightly lower than DSM-IV prevalence.”

“A coalition of 32 organizations—including divisions of the influential American Psychological Association (APA)—argues that the DSM-5 lowers the threshold for a diagnosis of mental illness and contributes to “excessive medicalization,” “stigmatization,” and “pathologization” of normal human responses and behavior.”

  • For AMHCA’s analysis of the DSM-5, don’t miss the upcoming July/August issue of The Advocate.AMHCA DSM-5 Task Force Chair Gary Gintner, PhD, LPC, a nationally recognized trainer on the DSM and “best practices” guidelines, will discuss what’s new in the DSM-5.

To attend a session on the DSM-5 for clinical mental health counselors, come to AMHCA’s pre-conference workshop, “DSM-5: A User’s Guide,” on July 18 in Arlington, Va. 
The workshop will be led by Gintner, who ensured that the task force systematically
reviewed early drafts of the DSM-5 and submitted more than 30 detailed reviews to APA as well as a letter to the chair of APA’s DSM-5 Task Force, David J. Kupfer, MD, noting several concerns that AMHCA felt APA should address in the DSM-5. Gintner is also a past president of AMHCA and an associate professor and program leader in Counselor Education at Louisiana State University. The workshop will provide an overview of the manual’s new organization and review changes to major psychiatric diagnostic groups. Workshop participants will have the opportunity to practice using the new system.

Search Under Way for Editor of AMHCA’s Journal of Mental Health Counseling

The Journal of Mental Health Counseling (JMHC), AMHCA’s quarterly, peer-reviewed journal, is opening a search for the position of editor. The position, which will be open July 2014, is for a three-year term, with the possibility of serving two consecutive terms. 

Responsibilities include coordinating the peer-review process, managing correspondence in a timely manner, editing submissions, overseeing the editorial board, and collaborating with the publisher to enhance the journal’s visibility and readership. 

Qualifications include having served as an associate editor for JMHC or having editorial experience that would qualify the applicant for the position of editor. Applicants must also have sufficient understanding of scientific methods, research and publishing ethics, and the discipline of mental health counseling. The successful applicant will begin transitioning into the editor position in fall 2013. 

To apply, please submit a cover letter detailing your vision for the JMHC and vitae electronically to Quinn Pearson, PhD, at Final selection of the new editor will be made by the AMHCA board of directors.

Deadline for applications for this position is August 15, 2013.  

Anxiety Webinar Offers New Treatment Approaches

What causes anxiety? Temperament? Poor early attachment? And why do some people get caught in a deepening spiral of anxiety and panic, while others don’t?

With so many types of anxiety, so many triggers and different presenting symptoms, understanding anxiety is the first step to successful intervention. That’s why AMHCA is offering this new streaming video webcast series, “Treating Anxiety: Master New Approaches That Really Work.”

Offered by AMHCA in partnership with Psychotherapy Networker, the six-part streaming video webcast series on anxiety begins June 18 and includes:

  • David Burns, MD, on overcoming the resistance of anxious clients
  • Margaret Wehrenberg, PsyD, on understanding brain science
  • Danie Beaulieu, PhD, on how to use multi-sensory messages
  • Steve Andreas on techniques drawn from Neuro-Linguistic Programming
  • Lynn Lyons, LICSW, on a two-step program for families that uses humor
  • Reid Wilson, PhD, on a step-by-step approach to eliminating panic attacks

Plus, three exclusive bonuses for AMHCA members: 

  1. Bonus video with Dan Siegel, MD. author of The Developing Mind, Mindsight, and The Mindful Therapist.
  2. Bonus video with Rick Hanson, PhD, author of Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom. Hanson was also an AMHCA conference keynote speaker in 2011.
  3. Bonus articles on anxiety—a special hand-picked selection from Psychotherapy Networker.

Learn on your own schedule: All sessions are available on-demand, at any time. 

On the go? Download the mp3 of any session and listen at your convenience.

Reasonable pricing: The complete webinar series is $119. Add CEs at checkout or anytime for just $40. Save $20 when you register by June 4!