"If the facts don't fit the theory, so much the worse for the facts." -- GEORG WILHELM FRIEDRICH HEGEL
Ms. Debra Rinaudo, the Executive Director of the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners (BBHE) hardly needs an introduction. She is the force that has driven the BBHE and its 'asleep at the wheel' members into the proverbial ditch of incompetence, waste of resources, and culture of prosecutorial zeal. Under her misdirection, no stone is left unturned. And no stone turned fails to reveal some onerous misdeed, real or imagined. This is the brilliance behind Ms. Rinaudo's particular brand of 'sleuthing.'
Hers is the slippery slope of preexisting schemas. In other words, when Ms. Rinaudo's assumptions, allegations, inferences, and biases are challenged, SHE is challenged. And so, she tends to cling to her beliefs and dig in her little heels, even in the face of contrary evidence. ESPECIALLY in the case of potentially disconfirming evidence
. She discounts, denies, or simply ignores any information that runs counter to her cherished beliefs. How convenient. How sad. And how terribly expensive, time-wasting, paranoid, and misguided. Not to mention personally and professionally devastating to the professionals and applicants whose careers, licenses, futures, finances, and reputations are in her tight little fists- which also hold the reins by which she (surprisingly successfully) keeps the professional and public members of the BBHE- who are intended to be (ahem...) well, professional and/or independently neutral, on her very short leash. Ironic, as it is THEY who are intended to rein in this E.D.'s penchant for playing: Private Investigator, Clinician, Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Philosopher, Physician, Pharmacologist,Interpreter, and arbiter of 'Good and Evil.' Oh, and add in Shepherd
, as the members of both the CCC and Board are Baaaaad when it comes to challenging their tiny leader in her petite-sized haute couteur. She is as flexible in her thinking as her 'snap-on' overly-coiffed bob would infer: not at all
HOW DOES SHE DO IT? The 'belief perseverance effect' is one of the many tools she employs in her creative assortment of flaws-in-thinking. This 'effect' is one element of the 'slippery slope' that has led to her well documented and observed penchant for negation and gross distortion of disconfirming evidence. What she cannot deny, negate, or invalidate, she simply either ignores completely or 're-frames' and reinterprets. The problem is, Ms. Rinaudo has not the objectivity, professional training and education, personal confidence (don't mistake bravado as confidence), or even the general respect one would expect from a professional for other professionals (and aspirants) to allow for hearings to be anything short of a highly manipulated and orchestrated zerosum game.
It's all about 'winning,' but who wins when capable, educated, prepared, and much needed Counseling professionals are denied license, sanctioned, forced to surrender or have their licenses revoked? NOT "The Public" Ms. Rinaudo is quick (a bit too quick and far too adamant) to claim as her primary concern to protect. Yes, there are those, smaller in numbers than the BBHE's record of denial and revocation and sanctions would infer, who should not be practicing behavioral/mental health counseling. But the cases that are of this caliber of seriousness are lost in the body count of those unnecessarily vetted, probed, screened, scrutinized, weighed, winnowed, and ultimately found wanting and so- rejected. The net Ms. Rinaudo and her team of acolyte investigators cast wide in order to ensnare the criminal, unethical, maligned, incompetent, and impaired professional and applicants seeking license has a very fine mesh. So fine, that all too few escape entrapment. No wonder Arizona is becoming infamous for it's licensing restrictions, its under-served and unserved population of mentally ill and 'at risk', and its Board and E.D. likewise infamous for their unnecessarily punitive and prejudicial conduct.
Nevermind the cautionary tall tales purported by Ms. Rinaudo and her narcissistic side-kick, Kirk ("you can call me Doctor") Bowden as cause and reason for the BBHE's increasingly diminishing productivity and negative performance. Neither can seem to grasp the simple and apparent to most (as in 'The Emperors New Clothes') FACT that this Board spends far too much time playing 'CSI:Phoenix' to address the serious backlog of cases awaiting review. ("So many stones, so little time.") Licensing, not licentious inquisition, is the task of the BBHE and its Executive Director. Or should be.
Ms. Rinaudo personally not only exacerbates the backlog of cases, but extends the amount of time necessary to review and process the cases she (and THEY) actually get to. The reason? Ms. Rinaudo suffers from an overly suspicious mind. And Ms. Rinaudo takes whatever time and resources required to prove her hunches. Or distort, bend, twist, or reframe the information until it actually supports her agenda. The way in which she can reinterpret contradictory and potentially disconfirming data to support her preexisting beliefs is a brilliant feat of logical contortionism worthy of the 'Cirque du soleil.' If only she were so flexible. Six or seven investigators? Half of the entire staff? And with all of this investigative human resource, the BBHE is confoundedly unable (or unwilling?) to 'investigate' or even follow up on POSITIVE or supportive evidence, testimony, documentation, letters of support and corroboration, professional opinion, etc., provided by the professionals and applicants.
Ms. Rinaudo deals in the common currency of 'plausible deniability.' She can look you in the eye and state, with no indication of irony, that she is "an unbiased and non-voting member who has little influence, if any, on what the members decide and the determinations they see fit to make." Oh, please. If you have ever witnessed Ms. Rinaudo present a case to the BBHE's Credentialing Committee or its Board, you have seen a prosecuting attorney in opening argument before a jury of sheep, knocking it out of the Sun Devil AND University of Phoenix Stadium(s). What Ms. Rinaudo fails to understand (and after twelve years as the E.D. of the BBHE, this is hard to fathom) is that, unlike opening statements in a trial which are meant to serve as a "road map" for the fact-finder, case presentations in the context of a CCC or Board hearing are (supposedly being) addressed to a group of individuals who actually KNOW SOMETHING about the case being presented- unlike in a jury trial, when jurors know nothing at all about the case. And if they do, they are instructed by the judge to put preconceived notions aside. Ms. Rinaudo seems to believe it is her job and DUTY to PUT PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS INTO THE HEADS OF THE MEMBERS. And what she chooses to 'deposit' there is often highly prejudicial and far too often, her own dramatic interpretation of 'what once were facts.' And the reason she is able to get away with the amount of distorted and fallacious information she presents as 'fact,' is that the members do not do their homework with the due diligence entrusted in them to carry out- expected of them by the 'Public' and professionals, alike.
Another 'sticking point' Ms. Rinaudo has yet to grasp, is that the statements made in the presentation of cases are to be limited to evidence. Actual evidence, as in factual with supporting (actual) documentation and demonstrable 'findings and collaborative testimony... oops. This is where the 'jury trial' metaphor falls apart. NO ONE is under oath. Not even Ms. Rinaudo. And there is NO ONE who is allowed to object. No judge. No opposing counsel. Just Ms. Rinaudo with full license to tell the truth and then some. The truth 'as she has interpreted and reframed and shattered it to bits in order to select just the parts that 'fit' the argument she most wants to make.
It's far past time to take notice and take action in regard to the BBHE and its on-going history and growing reputation for unprofessional and unsupportive conduct. For the sake of real protection of the Public, their safety and well being, it is time to put all of our capable, well trained and educated counselors to work in the highest capacity for which they are qualified. "Protect the Public; Preserve the Professional," and let no one stand in the way of fair treatment, fair hearing, and a fair chance to make a great difference.