How a cat named Zoe earned several advanced degrees and became a psychotherapist

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A diploma doesn't necessarily indicate expertise. Zoe D Katze, Ph.D., C.Ht., DAPA, for example, has a wall of diplomas, despite being unable to sign her name. She doesn't have the opposable thumbs for it.

Steve Eichel, PhD, ABPP, who I can assume earned his degrees the hard way, got upset with the amount of credentialing being given out to uneducated hacks. These degrees were concentrated in the less rigorously controlled professions, such as hypnotherapy and diet counseling, but could branch out to more generalized degrees – hence the ‘Ph.D.' diploma clutched in the hirsute Doctor Katze's claws. He wanted to prove that diploma mills were happy to give out diplomas to anyone, giving easy credibility to scammers and a worthless piece of paper to people who wanted to seem educated. All he needed was some money.

Which doesn't mean the process didn't take some discipline. One doesn't get a Ph.D. overnight. Eichel started with a crappy little hypnotherapy organization, comprised mostly of people without formal academic backgrounds, and ponied up the application fee for certification. After a few of those certifications piled up, he went after bigger prey.


Eichel applied for a degree (for Zoe) from the American Psychotherapy Association, an organization of which he'd been a member. They requested a listing of academic credentials, and he went ahead and made a few up, including doctorates from mail-order colleges and a position at "Tacayllaermi Friends School" – Tacayllaermi is "I'm really a cat" spelled backwards. To be fair, I think only Zatanna would catch that. The APA certainly didn't. They made her a Diplomate.

Zoe's stunning academic and professional career is actually pretty common. A great number of animals have professional or academic certifications. Most of these were obtained as part of a stunt to shame the organization or to provide evidence for lawsuits or government investigations. My advice for diploma mills? Don't give degrees in ‘life experience,' use babelfish on names obsessively, and automatically reject anyone named "Sassafras."


Via Dr.