University of Sedona Dissertation

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Garp, Mar 9, 2016.

  1. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    In Canada, the legal requirement at few provinces for this is to be ordained at a religious organization so the UofS degree would do for this purpose. There is a Christian Counselors association that actually took the politician that was discussed before with an unaccredited degree as a member.

    There is a reason why people take these programs, I agree with few here that it can be dangerous for society to have people around counseling others with substandard credentials.
  2. b4cz28

    b4cz28 Active Member

    Is that not a degree? Its very relevant to your view point as you took the time to earn that degree.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 24, 2016
  3. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    The licentiate is not a degree in the U.S. system of education and I've not seen an accredited Licentiate anywhere in the U.S. offered by a non-Roman Catholic university.
  4. Garp

    Garp Well-Known Member

    Neuhaus, I think you have explained your unaccredited L.TH. that morphed into a Masters (which you did not ask for and according to you do not use). You are under no obligation to disclose the source. Bcz, your obsession with this seems to be tied to your disagreement with Neuhaus. FWIW, I would advise debating the merits of your case rather than this pointless issue. People have taken Neuhaus to task when his long and winding posts take side swipes at people.

    We had another guy here who earned substandard, unaccredited degrees and returned them to the school. I guess he or she wanted to be struck from the roles.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 24, 2016
  5. b4cz28

    b4cz28 Active Member

    I have zero obsession about this, I asked a question, is a LST not a degree? What I do have an obsession with is people using degrees in a capacity they should not.
  6. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    Interestingly, I was flipping through the Sedona website and came across this in their FAQ section:

    Never saw that before in an unaccredited religious school but it sort of jives with what I was saying earlier about religious degrees and use in the context of a particular denominational activity.
  7. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    The key here is the ordination. As long as you are a minister of an organized religion, you can hold degrees from your church. It is an obvious legal loophole.

    By the way, metaphysics degrees were meant to be philosophy degrees and not religious. The ideal of making a metaphysical church is just to justify the degree granting authority.

    Metaphysics is a field of philosophy and should belong to a philosophy faculty.

    The issue to me is that most people become ordained not because they have the objective of preaching in a church but because the want to hold legally a PhD that can give them the legal right to sell themselves as counselors, psychologists, philosophers, etc.

    The problem is that a PhD from Sedona can be earned in few months from scratch while a PhD in psychology requires about 10 years of long study.

    Many of the Sedona PhDs are high school graduates that want to be called Drs overnight to deceive people.

    There is indeed a problem with this type of schools. The programs should be called diplomas in metaphysics and not PhDs, MSc, etc
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 31, 2016
  8. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    For the cost of filing fees in the state of Florida I can incorporate the First Church of Neuhaus and obtain religious exemption for Neuhaus Gulf Coast Seminary. Then I can ordain and award myself a Doctorate and hold myself out as a Christian Counselor, a guru, a spiritual life coach, a yoga master or whatever other religious or philosophical position I so choose. That isn't a symptom of poorly managed higher Ed. That's a consequence of freedom of religion as it is understood in the United States.

    I didn't enroll in my former program to obtain an STL by using ordination as a loophole. I enrolled in an ordination program affiliated with the church I physically attended that just happened to call its final diploma an STL. I have no doubt that USedona is on the opposite end of that spectrum; you go there for the PhD that just happens to come with an ordination.

    But ordination is not a requirement to make a religiously exempt degree "legal." Religious exemption, or state approval for that matter, is what makes the degree legal. And there are many religious exempt schools that do not offer ordination. So I think you're finding a loophole where one doesn't exist.

    I still maintain, however, that the PhD should be verboten for religious exemption. West Virginia specifically doesn't allow bible colleges to award a B.A. Or B.S. Or their graduate equivalents and specifically excludes the PhD as a degree bible colleges can award. Makes sense to me.

    The ThD would make the most sense in this context. Even if accredited, a ThD is likely not going to serve the holder thereof outside of the faith tradition in which the degree was received. A Catholic ThD is unlikely to be employed at a Baptist seminary and a fundy ThD is unlikely to be teaching at a Catholic seminary. The theologies of which they are doctors would be drastically different from the theologies of another school.

    But the overall harm done by schools like Sedona is so infinitesimal I get a chuckle when people are basically claiming that they are cranking out all of these unlicensed counselors. Show me one unlicensed counselor with a USedona degree. Now, make sure that one counselor isn't doing what is normally accepted in the field of pastoral counseling (where no degree at all is required).

    Because, again, there are plenty of people with accredited degrees in ministry and divinity who are crossing that line into unlicensed counseling practice. Accreditation and academic rigor isn't the issue there. It's encroaching on a regulated field's practice area that is the issue. And people do that with accredited non-licensure qualifying degrees with, I would argue, much greater regularity than people with degrees from places like Sedona. In fact, just around the corner from my office you'll find a guy with a PhD in Human Development from a very reputable school who operates a hypnotherapy and "spiritual counseling" practice out of a strip mall. Licenses? None. He's breaking the rules just the same as the graduate of Sedona even though his degrees are unassailably legitimate.
  9. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    If I could muddy the water a bit . . .

    "Summary of Minimum Requirements


    Depending on the ecclesiastical authority they are under, most pastoral counselors will work to meet the same educational and training standards that a clinical counselor would to earn and maintain their license- with an added religious component. In simple terms, this means that many pastoral counselors work to meet the requirements of their religious group, in addition to earning all prerequisites of their state licensing board. The first step is a bachelor’s degree in a field such as psychology, ministry, theology, counseling, or a related field. Most pastoral counselors will then pursue an advanced degree that aligns with the scope and limitations of their future practice. To become a Certified Pastoral Counselor by the American Association of Pastoral Counselors you must also hold one of the following:
    •Masters of Divinity
    •Graduate or Doctoral degree in Biblical Studies, Theological studies, or Spiritual Studies
    •Graduate or Doctoral Degree in Pastoral Counseling

    Note: All degrees must have been conferred by accredited universities."

    How to Become a Pastoral Counselor |

    So while there may be no minimum requirements there are professional standards out there creating a contrast, within the exact same field, that is rather stark. This creates a lot of confusion as well as opportunities for abuse.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 31, 2016
  10. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    I don't think this muddies the waters at all. There is no regulation. So these "professional standards" are really only applicable to people who choose to accept them.

    The website you've cited is also a bit odd. It's written by a Navy Chaplain and contains tons of unsourced information about chaplaincy work.

    I found at least one major error:

    Unless the hospital/nursing home you are applying to has a religious affiliation (i.e. it's a "Catholic Hospital") it is illegal for them to require that you have any sort of ordination. They can only require things like accredited degrees, experience and Clinical Pastoral Education.

    Being "ordained" is not a qualification that a secular employer can even inquire about because it would involve the employer inquiring about your religious affiliation. While many chaplains are ordained many are not. Hospital chaplains aren't "staff clergy" they are there to meet the spiritual needs of all patients regardless of faith (or lack thereof).

    And here...

    This whole thing is inaccurate.

    The most widely accepted Clinical Pastoral Education provider is the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE). There are hospitals that hire chaplains with no CPE at all. But the norm is to only hire people who have at least 4 units of CPE from ACPE or an affiliated body. The requirement for VA Hospital Chaplains, however, is two units and ecclesiastical endorsement.

    As for getting credit for having a degree, ACPE requires you to have both an accredited bachelor's and master's degree. So waiving part of the course of study because you meet the minimum entry requirements would be a bit weird.

    The website mentions the Association of Professional Chaplains. And membership in APC is fairly common. Specifically, their Board for Chaplaincy Certification is commonly seen in hospital circles. The requirements for certification by APC/BCCI? You need to have four CPE units from ACPE or one of its affiliates.

    There are also competing CPE providers who are trying to claim a piece of the pie. However, there are no licensing issues at play here. A hospital can choose one or the other or neither.

    So I'd caution anyone with taking this guy's word for it. He oversimplified quite a bit and is just straight up wrong in some of these areas. For a website that's sole purpose is to educate people about how to become chaplains it is surprisingly sloppy.

    But there's a lot of different moving parts in this area. Being a hospital chaplain is one thing. Providing pastoral counseling to members of your congregation in your church office is another thing. But when you start renting out office space and operating a pastoral counseling "practice" then I'd say you're venturing into unlicensed practice and walking dangerously close to the line of illegal. My point in this whole discussion is that the latter issue is not limited to people who graduate from unaccredited programs. People with accredited degrees do it all the time. It isn't an accreditation issue. It isn't an issue of academic standards. It's an issue of people, regardless of their education, behaving unethically.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 31, 2016
  11. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    You are right, the ordination is not required to grant the degree but required many times to use the degree.

    In Canada, many provinces protect the title "Counselor" and restrict them to people that are members of professional associations that normally require an accredited degree.
    The loophole is that if you call yourself "minister of the metaphysical church of cyberspace" and you can legally give spiritual counseling. The degree is mainly for deception as most psychologists would just say John Joe PhD Counselor but now with the UoS degree I can use John Doe PhD Pastoral counselor and some people might believe that I have the same training and entitled to practice, if the person is accused of practicing without license all he or she has to show is the ordination certificate and present him or herself as a minister of a church.

    If I had an accredited PhD in arts, I couldn't legally provide counseling unless I become an ordained minister. The ordination is just to protect you in case of a complaint. But again, I can spend 40 bucks and get an ordination from an online church and bypass the requirement.

    The other issue is insurance, you cannot provide insurance receipts unless you are member of a recognized association. In Canada, you have the association of spiritual counselors that only allow people with RA degrees so UoS graduates would not be allowed.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 31, 2016
  12. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    Depends on how you aim to "use" the degree. Ordination, in the U.S., is not a legal status that can shield you from liability. It may come up, incidentally, in tax court cases where there is dispute if you are, say, actually operating a church. But there is no legal rule for what constitutes a lawful ordination. And numerous states and court cases have held that an ordination doesn't necessarily even need to come from an incorporated entity to be valid. The determination of what makes an ordination "valid" is a religious question which is left to the principles of a person's denomination, individual church or even just to themselves.

    Again, the part you seem to be missing is that people with accredited doctorates in various religious subjects often abuse that line. If I have a D.Min. from Moody I'm still no more legally qualified to offer counseling than a person with a degree from Sedona. And if I'm setting up an actual metal health practice but hiding behind the "spiritual" aspect then it doesn't matter that my degree is accredited I'm still behaving unethically.

    OK, at this point you're just jumping around trying desperately to show why a degree from Sedona is a bad idea. I never said it was a good idea. What I said is that Sedona PhDs are harmless to the world. In response to that you, and a few others, have painted this picture that Sedona is cranking out unlicensed counselors without providing a single instance where this is the case and acting as if this is somehow only the domain of unaccredited religious schools. It is not. There are many life coaches, spiritual counselors and others who offer services resembling counseling who have accredited degrees and no license because they operate under the exact same exemption.

    If you're against unlicensed counselors providing "spiritual guidance" through religious exemption then you need to be against all of them regardless of whether their degrees are accredited. But I don't think that's your position. I think that you're just trying very hard to make this particular school, which is of no consequence to anyone in virtually any situation, out to be one of the greatest evils the nation has ever seen.

    And my only purpose is to, again, point out that Sedona awarding PhDs in metaphysics hurts no one and is a valid expression of religious freedom in this country. The fact that they can't bill Canadian insurance speaks to the utility of the degree but not at all to whether schools like Sedona have a right to exist and operate as they do. You may disagree with that right. But I'm not the one who gave it to them. The state of Arizona did. Maybe Arizona will one day change their tone and go the route of other states that abolished religious exemption for degree authority. But until that time, they can and will exist. If you want to articulate what, specifically, this school is doing to cause harm then by all means, let's have a dialogue. But pointing to an issue that would be problematic even if the school was accredited isn't further that cause.
  13. RAM PhD

    RAM PhD Member

    The harm being done by places (my use of the term "places" rather than "universities/schools/seminaries," is intentional) like Sedona is that they purport to offer an academic degree, while the requirements for said degree is far below the given norms for such a degree. If all one ever did was obtain the Sedona PhD and hung the diploma on their wall, they are, at the very least, deceiving themselves (i.e., if they think it is a genuine PhD).

    Sedona and others of this ilk are a cancer, slowly eating away at integrity, ethics, character, and, well, you get the picture.
  14. Garp

    Garp Well-Known Member

    There are some legitimate associations like John MacArthur's biblical counseling association that ensure people have some training and supervision. They take a hard line (separatist) on biblical counseling. Their seminary is geared to theological therapy only. I too think that if they veer into mental health issues they should be working collaboratively with other professionals.

    Colorado scooped these outliers up and set up a category called Registered Psychotherapist. The law does not interfere but does require disclosure to clients of qualifications, what you are not and how to report issues. It is specific verbage that must be signed by the client and kept on file. The state can sanction them for not following legal requirements. Also must pass a state jurisprudence exam (makes sure they understand legal requirements). It is a measure of protection.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 31, 2016
  15. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    I think you may be a bit confused as to what Colorado did and how it relates to religious practitioners. I say this because Colorado specifically exempts religious ministers from registration and excludes those practitioners from the Board of Psychotherapy's jurisdiction.

    So, all of the filings and disclosure requirements along with the jurisprudence exam go out the window if you're claiming an exemption based upon providing "pastoral counseling."

    Granted, I'm sure that there are Christian counselors who opt for the registration just to avoid potential issues down the road. But the law is incredibly weak on its own. Add to that the religious exemption and it's not really much of anything.

    But a USedona grad would be eligible to set up shop in Colorado just as easily as a Liberty M.Div. graduate. And neither of them would necessarily have the training to actually provide psychotherapy (by virtue of graduating from Sedona or Liberty, respectively).
  16. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    I kind of just picked this page google-randomly and my point was more or less to highlight what you said. There are "professional standards" and ways to become certified by professional associations but there are no laws or regulations forcing anyone to join/become certified in order to practice. I was wondering about professional titles and whether like RFValve said, there are jurisdictions where certain titles are allowed/not allowed. I'm unwilling to go through all the states laws to figure that out but in Massachusetts there is no official title of "Pastoral Counselor" that is reserved or protected although there are Professional Counselors (LMHCs. LICSWs, PsyDs, etc.) who might engage in the practice of Pastoral Counseling (or Spiritual Counseling for that matter). So it is murky, at least for me, as you have licensed people and unlicensed people doing the same thing under a number of different titles. It's easy to imagine that a consumer of these services might be confused by this and not really know who/what they're getting.
  17. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    It's also worth pointing out that charging someone money to sit and talk about their problems isn't the same thing as psychotherapy. If it was, then countless bartenders would be practicing without a license.

    If you aren't diagnosing and treatment disorders and providing therapeutic intervention then the laws in many states doesn't actually cover what many pastoral counselors actually do.

    Participatory listening and letting someone spill their guts in front of you for a fee are not enough to label something as "therapy." So a lot of people who are doing pastoral counseling are, in fact, not violating the law unless they hold themselves out as something they are not or crossing that line into unlicensed practice.

    That's the reason why so many life coaches do what they do without any oversight.

    Of the few areas I've seen regulation of pastoral counselors the restrictions seemed to be places solely upon those who were opening up practices outside of a church or religious organization. Because the government will likely never pass a law, which also passes constitutional muster, that says that a priest cannot counsel someone in the pews of a church without a license. But the government can probably get away with telling that priest that if he rents a storefront and hangs out a shingle that he, at a minimum, needs to register with the state. Of course, if the state that exempts him from that requirement on the basis of being a priest then you're back to square one.

    But if someone crosses the line into unethical practice that's definitely a discussion to have. But trying to conflate that issue with a school's accreditation? C'mon.
  18. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    To refer to your own citation, the school mentions that the degree is legal as long as you are an active member of the church of international metaphysical ministry. I believe this means ordination as you cannot become a minister member without one. The question is, can I claim a PhD without an ordination certificate? or can I give up the membership and still claim the PhD? your citation indicates otherwise.

    The other issue is international use. In Canada, a foreign degree would need to be blessed by WES Canada or similar institution so I can legally use the degree. However, I can always claim to be a minister of the church without any legal consequence and just use the "Reverend title". My guess is the UoS would not pass the WES test but maybe someone else can let me know the legal value of a UoS degree in Canada.

    I might take the UoS degree to University Azteca and use their degree validation service so it is converted to a Mexican PhD. However, I wonder if even Azteca would take the UoS degree.
  19. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    You can claim whatever you like. The metaphysics police won't come and break down your door if you broke off all affiliation with UoS and continued to advertise yourself as having a PhD from there.

    I was simply pointing out that most religious exempt schools don't make the claim that you only get to keep the degree as long as you are affiliated with them. It's a unique piece as far as I can tell.

    Again, this is a question of degree utility while the discussion here has been one of whether the school should be able to exist as it does. Is the degree useful in Canada? No, but it isn't particularly useful in the U.S. either. You can't use it to teach. You can't use it as a qualification for government and (most) private sector work.

    For a wedding officiant who wants to have the title "Rev. Dr." then it might prove useful. Otherwise, it's really just a harmless little bunch of people who want to write middle school level term papers about spirituality and call each other "Doctor." And our religious freedom gives them the right to do that just as surely as another group can sit around and call one another "Bishop" or "Pope" or "Rabbi" or "Swami."

    Of course they wouldn't. There is no reputable degree evaluation service in the world that would consider this equivalent to anything. And that's OK because this school is cranking out a set of religious degrees that are meant for use within their little denomination of new age spirituality. If they didn't award a PhD I would have no issue with them whatsoever. If they limited themselves to a Doctor of Spiritual Metaphysics I would be completely indifferent to them because, even if you had ill intent, it would be difficult to misuse the degree.

    Context is what is important. It is unethical for anyone to use a PhD from Sedona in a way that misleads people as to what they are trained and qualified to do. But this isn't an accreditation issue. If Rich Douglas walked into a hospital wearing a white lab coat, introduced himself to everyone as "Dr. Douglas" and began taking medical histories, it would be unethical and likely illegal even though he is well within his rights to refer to himself as "Dr. Douglas." The context matters.

    The context here is not higher education. The context is a new age spiritual group and the various other concentric groups and individual practitioners. Publishing an article, of any quality, in a newsletter or journal about new age spirituality with a PhD (awarded by Sedona) is not really a controversial usage of the degree. Holding yourself out as a wedding officiant or a ceremonialist offering other life cycle ceremonies who uses the title of "Rev. Dr." is likewise not so controversial. Using that PhD on your CV when you're an accounting professor? Now we're starting to get problematic. Using it to pretend to be a psychologist? Whoa now, we might have a problem. But those latter two issues are not accreditation issues. They are ethical issues which impact all degree holders from all institutions.

    Questions about insurance (irrelevant unless you are offering counseling), degree evaluations etc are all questions of utility. And the answer there is the same as for any unaccredited degree (religious or not). My whole point is that the unaccredited religious degrees are in a separate camp than the typical unaccredited secular degree because they have a forum, religion, where the degrees are likely accepted.
  20. RAM PhD

    RAM PhD Member

    I disagree completely with this assessment. If ethics matters in any context (and it should matter in all contexts), it should be germane within a religious context. The UoS PhD does not make one a PhD. Nor does it make one a "Dr." I could reference myself as "President RAM" or "King of the World RAM" or even "Pope RAM," but it makes me none of those. And for those looking in from the outside, it would be a ridiculous display of pompous ignorance.

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