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Pingitore, D. (1997). The corporatization of psychotherapy: A study in professional transformation. Free Associations, 7(1):101-126.

(1997). Free Associations, 7(1):101-126

The corporatization of psychotherapy: A study in professional transformation

David Pingitore, Ph.D.

Mental Health Services in the United States are undergoing a profound transformation in purpose, administration, and delivery best exemplified by the emergence of managed care.1 What is underway is a corporatization of mental health services that represents a case study in the transformation of professional work in the post-industrial era. Yet, efforts by mental health professionals to understand this transformation highlight the conceptual limitations they routinely employ to understand the most profound changes to have occurred in their work in the last thirty years.2

The dramatic transformation of mental health services has been glibly pronounced as the profession's takeover by the dynamics of industrialization (Cummings, 1995). Yet this explanation incorrectly assumes that prior to the entry of managed care the psychotherapy profession in the United States was a mere cottage industry unaffected by modernization. Such a perspective also fails to appreciate that production dynamics in the United States are in a post-industrial era marked by the administration and automation of services in an increasingly global economy. The corporatization of mental health services is also viewed from an openly free market and social control perspective (Eckert, 1994; Hirsch, 1995). This perspective highlights how psychologists, as one group of mental health professionals, can benefit from economies of scale and the promotion of new skills in order to better serve the productivity needs of American industry.

Another approach to examining the corporatization of services has utilized an analytic framework derived from a feminist sociology of professional work.

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