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Key components of a program for impaired psychologists

13 December 1999


Beginning in the 1980s the issue of the "impaired psychologist" came to the forefront in the psychological literature. However, to date, programs designed to identify, intervene, and follow up with impaired psychologists are still very much needed. Other health care fields, such as medicine and nursing, have programs and resources established for their impaired professionals. If psychology bases its programming for impaired practitioners on what has already proven effective in other professional fields, the chances of creating a successful program are increased. This paper will begin with a review of psychology's efforts towards programming. It will then review the literature available on current impairment programs available for doctors and nurses. Based on this review, I will then propose key components for psychology to include in a program for impaired psychologists. A few identified components are: utilizing a regional liaison person, hiring a medical director, involving spouses or partners in the recovery process, and providing impairment programming during professional training (e.g., during medical school, nursing school, etc.). The concluding section addresses recommendations for future research needs.


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