Letter of Appeal to Magellan - Feb 16, 2004
Warren Throckmorton, PhD
P.O. Box 384
Grove City, PA 16127
February 16, 2005
Alex Rodriguez, MD
Chief Medical Officer
Magellan Health Services
16 Munson Road
Farmington, CT 06032
I am replying to your phone call of February 14, 2005 informing me of your decision to retract your invitation to continue serving on the Magellan Health Services’ National Professional Advisory Council.
I am writing to ask you to reconsider your decision. I agreed to serve on the current NPAC because of my past service to Magellan and the profession of mental health counseling. I believe both entities will be best served if you, in effect, - retract your retraction - thus allowing me to serve as planned.
Let me first describe my recollection of your phone call on the 14th.
You indicated that you were not pleased to have the conversation we were about to have but that when the members of the NPAC were announced internally, there was concern about my continuing to serve. You indicated that you had polled senior staff to learn of my capabilities to be of assistance to Magellan as a member of the NPAC. The feedback was unanimously positive and supportive of my continuing service to Magellan. Despite this positive feedback, you were warned by someone (internally or externally, I am not sure) that I would be a lightning rod for controversy. On the fear that controversy would come, you decided that I should not be a part of the NPAC so as to avoid being a distraction to the work of the NPAC. You indicated in a later phone call that you would be committing these reasons to writing in a letter to me.
When I asked you what views were so controversial that would lead to a retraction of a commitment made in September, 2004, you indicated that my views concerning homosexuality inappropriately mixed religion and mental health. When I asked in what ways were religion and mental health perspectives mixed, you indicated that the major mental health organizations in the nation do not regard homosexuality as a mental disorder, indicating that I, on the contrary, believe homosexuality is of necessity a disorder. I informed you that I do not believe homosexuals are of necessity suffering from a mental disorder. I asked you to show me where I had said or written such a belief. You did not have any such reference. My recollection is that you felt the fact that my views were subject to misinterpretation was grounds enough for a retraction of the invitation to serve on NPAC.
So as best as I can determine, the invitation to serve on the NPAC has been retracted because some unnamed people feel that my views concerning sexuality are controversial and/or perhaps unduly influenced by religion. The one specific issue concerning homosexual being a mental illness you raised was in error. I clarified my position for you but this was not sufficient.
The invitation to continue on NPAC was not retracted because I had failed to perform well in my 5 years of prior service to Magellan and the profession of counseling. In fact, you were quite glowing in your compliments about my work on the antecedent Magellan Provider Advisory Board. You had stated in your September 27, 2004 letter to me that I had been asked to serve the NPAC “because you are an acknowledged national leader in your field.” I fail to see, nor did you articulate, how that status changed between September 27, 2004 and February 14, 2005.
Dr. Rodriguez, I am a champion of client self-determination, a value that I hope would also inform the values of Magellan. Recently the American Counseling Association, the umbrella group affiliated with the American Mental Health Counseling Association, of which I am past president, restated agreement with those same principles. To this letter, I have attached an email correspondence between a private citizen (Daryl Foster) and Larry Freeman of the ACA on this very point. Rev. Foster wrote to the ACA asking if the ethical plank on diversity included the right of clients to seek counseling concerning their sexual orientation. The response of Mr. Freeman is reproduced here:
"In response to your inquiry below regarding whether Section A.2. Respecting Diversity. b. Respecting Differences; is applicable to clients who seek to change their sexual orientation. Yes, this code applies to any one who feels or perceives themselves as struggling with an issue that impacts negatively the quality and comfort of their daily life. The key word here is client, it is the client that approaches the counselor and gives consent to be treated. If one's sexual orientation is not an issue to them, it should not be an issue for the counselor. However, if it is, then the person(s) should have the freedom of choice to seek appropriate treatment for it; what ever the issue(s) may be. If what the client is experiencing is not in the training or education of the counselor a referral is suggested to the client, so they can receive the proper treatment that meets their counseling needs."
This statement summarizes well my position and is consistent with my professional, peer-reviewed writings. Does Magellan Health Care not believe client self-determination is an important value? While I have been a public, persistent and vocal supporter of client self-determination, I fail to see how that disqualifies me from serving on NPAC.
You expressed concern that my views and writings concerning sexual orientation would become a distraction or a source of controversy. I must remind you that I have served on the Magellan National Provider Advisory Committee since my first meeting in Columbia, MD on December 9, 1999. At no time in the course of my tenure on this committee has the issue of sexual orientation been raised by me or anyone else. I have been writing, presenting and lecturing on the subject of sexual orientation continuously since my initial appointment to NPAC. My work has been published in peer reviewed journals of the American Psychological Association and the American Mental Health Counseling Association. Most recently, I presented at the 2004 American Psychological Association convention in Honolulu on the subject of sexual identity development in adolescents. The presentation was well received by the psychologists in attendance. My presentation was not a distraction for the APA.
As you may know, I am past president and currently chair of the Ethics Committee of the American Mental Health Counselors Association. I am attaching an email from the Executive Director of the AMHCA, Mark Hamilton, that states clearly that there has been no adverse impact of my service to this group.
Dr. Rodriguez, I have been a supporter of Magellan when many other providers were quick to be critical. I am enclosing an article I wrote for the AMHCA’s newsletter documenting my ongoing support of the company.
It is hard for me to believe that Magellan is best served by reducing diversity of perspective on a board as strategic as NPAC. I invite you to bring to me any concerns you have about my views. I further invite those who offered criticism of my views to approach me directly to get an accurate understanding.
In summary, the only specific criticism of my views you raised is erroneous. In the 5 years I have served on the NPAC, there has not been a distraction, nor have I been a lightning rod for controversy. I continue to serve in my profession without detriment to my professional association and am operating within the values of client self-determination recently supported by the ACA. I have presented as recently as this summer to the American Psychological Association concerning my work without rancorous debate.
For the reasons stated above, I request that you reconsider your decision and allow me to serve Magellan and counselors as I have for the past 5 years.
Warren Throckmorton, PhD
Encl: Letter of 9/27/04; emails from D L Foster and Mark Hamilton; News Release 1999; Article from AMHCA Advocate following October, 2000 meeting.
CC: Steven J. Shulman, Rene Lerer, Mark Hamilton, (AMHCA)