On Aug. 10, Gov. Jerry Brown announced the appointment of John Preston of Shingle Springs to the California Board of Psychology.
The board, which is part of the Department of Consumer Affairs, is responsible for maintaining standards in the psychology profession through its licensing, regulation, legislation, enforcement, continuing education, and outreach programs.
Preston, 62, earned his doctorate from Baylor University and has authored 21 books. Currently he is professor emeritus at Alliant International University where he teaches graduate students in psychology. Prior to that he worked at Kaiser Permanente Medical Group as their chief psychologist. He also had a private practice for 25 years. He has a Website at psyd-fx.com.
Preston said his appointment to the psychology board was something of a surprise as he did not seek it out. He was driving his car one day when he received a phone call and the man on the line said that Gov. Brown wanted to talk to him. At first he thought it was a joke, but after he pulled his car over he found himself having a 15-minute conversation with Brown.
Preston said during the conversation he discussed his concerns about the future of mental health treatment, especially for lower and middle class citizens. People are getting horrible mental health treatment, he told the governor.
“We talked about alternative approaches, especially as the number of psychiatrists declines. We need to think about people who are suffering. Perhaps we should license psychologists to prescribe medication,” he suggested. “Or expand the role of nurses and nurse practitioners. We need to think outside the box because the need is there and it’s only going to get worse.”
Preston said the psychiatry profession is drying up because people can’t make enough money doing it and because of managed care. He said that some psychiatrists just give out prescriptions and primary care doctors are often given only 15 minutes to talk to a patient and that is not enough time to find out what’s bothering them.
“So it’s easier for them to write a prescription. Eighty-five percent of people receiving a prescription for depression and anxiety are getting it from their primary care doctor,” he said.
Preston said psychiatric medications and how to provide more effective treatment in a primary care setting are topics he gives presentations on 30 or 40 times a year at conferences in this country and internationally.
“Many people receive inappropriate treatment in this country,” he said. “People are sometimes experiencing painful but normal emotions. The trend in medicine is to treat normal emotional reactions with medicines. On the other hand, there are people who suffer needlessly when medicine could be a lifesaver.”
In regard to what he wants to accomplish as a board member, Preston said, ”I’m getting older every day and it matters a lot that we do the right thing in this culture. A lot of people are not getting care and it would mean a lot to me if I could help along those lines.”
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