75 Comments to
Is Psychology Rotten to the Core?

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  1. Lengthy but well spoken post. I will state something that will provoke more outrage than support, but it needs to be said, as an overall generalization, NOT an absolute:

    the field of social work has done more to diminish the efficacy and integrity of mental health care in the past 10 plus years by inserting itself too far into clinical interventions. I know social work clinicians who are fine and capable therapists, but as a whole, the profession is not just out of touch with the demands as a mental health care provider, it has cheapened the field literally and figuratively. And I am not going to respond to defenders and apologists who are just in the end looking out for their wallets and standings in the community. Any responsible, credible provider knows it and sees it. So, to those who have gone the full nine yards to get trained and credentialed, more power to you. To those who are just glorified guidance counselors or just plain clueless to providing real therapy interventions, shame on you for claiming to practice a craft that expects training and accountablility.

    FYI: my two experiences in own psychotherapy were with psychologists who had solid clinical training, and were not at all hesitant to note their credentials, and I appreciated that.

    Again, it is time for those who care about the state of affairs in mental health to rise up and refute outside influences that have no commmitment to helping others but just profiting off the field. And start with insurers, as they are the primary culprit to eroding the field.

    Have a nice weekend.

  2. I can see your response to articles from Newsweek and Perspectives on Psychological Science to a fair amount of time to prepare. It was a great response!

    To me, I regard many of the important qualities for psychology as art rather than science. Science might provide new tools for the practice and strengthen the nurturing qualities of psychology. But science really cannot tell anyone how to live wisely within the world of subjective experience.

    I retweeted and linked to your blog from mine.

  3. Dr. John,

    I would like to say that your article is a welcomed breath of fresh air! Bravo!

    My take on the same is that those in charge of setting policy of how psychotherapists and psychologists are trained are folks who have a disconnect between their heads and their hearts. I would risk and surmise that they make poor clinicians in actual practice. They don’t see many miracles of healing. In other words, they are not innate healers of the heart. Hence you have academicians with fancy titles that live in their heads and look at the world and the heart in terms of the linear. I know some academicians who train future psychologists who are dysfunctional and unfriendly. They have many academic accolades accumulated but they are lousy at the interpersonal level. People around them cannot stand them. They are narcissists wrapped up inside their little heads and world.

    Love heals. Love is non-linear. The best person at loving others makes a great healer. If you can have the best researcher with a great heart full of love for people treating people then you will see a revolution in psychology.

    Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.
    http://www.DrSam.tv

  4. Cole Bitting Wrote:

    “But science really cannot tell anyone how to live wisely within the world of subjective experience.”

    I’m not sure if you are suggesting that psychotherapy is intended for that purpose, but if anyone does think that then they would be wrong.

    Different patients/clients seek therapy for different purposes. For some, it is to reduce social anxiety or depression and become more socially involved. For others, it is to improve their self-esteem or gain unconditional self-acceptance, etc. I doubt anyone who comes to a clinician’s office for a vague and abstract purpose like “living wisely within the world of subjective experience” is going to benefit much from psychotherapy.

  5. Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D. wrote (in quotes of course):

    “My take on the same is that those in charge of setting policy of how psychotherapists and psychologists are trained are folks who have a disconnect between their heads and their hearts. I would risk and surmise that they make poor clinicians in actual practice. They don’t see many miracles of healing. In other words, they are not innate healers of the heart.”

    What does that even mean? “Healers of the heart?” Is that what you define a therapist? It would be nice if you would be more specific and clear instead of metaphorical and figurative. I certainly don’t go to psychotherapy to have my “heart healed.”

    And what do you mean of a disconnect between the heart and the mind? Are you suggesting that the best means of determining the best treatment for clients/patients is through emotional reasoning?

    “Hence you have academicians with fancy titles that live in their heads and look at the world and the heart in terms of the linear. I know some academicians who train future psychologists who are dysfunctional and unfriendly. They have many academic accolades accumulated but they are lousy at the interpersonal level. People around them cannot stand them. They are narcissists wrapped up inside their little heads and world.”

    Why do I get the feeling that you are over-generalizing that people who follow Science are bad in interpersonal skills?

  6. Carlos wrote:

    Different patients/clients seek therapy for different purposes. For some, it is to reduce social anxiety or depression and become more socially involved. For others, it is to improve their self-esteem or gain unconditional self-acceptance, etc.

    How is that not about the quality of their subjective lives? Sometimes medication is a tremendous resource alone. Sometimes therapy is the only support needed for these purposes. Sometimes medication cracks the nut so to speak. Combination of those elements are very potent.

    Maybe the concept of ‘to live wisely’ is my own and not readily accessible. ‘To live with a sense of well-being,’ is likely better said.

  7. skillsnotpills,
    I’m not supporting social workers here because in general, you’re right, they don’t know what they’re doing. But I’ve not seen that “trained” psychologists do any better.

    the educational system does not train people to do well with peoples psyches. life may and natural inclinations can too– education will only help those who are naturals.

    no one is an expert in mental health just because they’ve trained at some University and those who think that by nature of having a PHd they are gifted are the worst ones out there.

  8. Samuel said,

    “Love heals. Love is non-linear. The best person at loving others makes a great healer. If you can have the best researcher with a great heart full of love for people treating people then you will see a revolution in psychology.”

    amen…and love does not require an education at all.

    John,
    I liked your article as well…a lot!!

  9. Cole Bitting:

    “How is that not about the quality of their subjective lives?”

    What I’m arguing is that you have to have a specific and concrete purpose to seeking therapy than just “living wisely within the world of subjective experience.” The purpose must focus on the physiological, cognitive and behavioral patterns. Your purpose is too broad and vague and thus, it is difficult to determine if you accomplish it. But a more concrete and specific goal or purpose is far more easy to determine if you accomplish it. For instance, learning to reduce your blushing in social situations, reducing how you negatively evaluate how terrible it is to blush in front of people, and learn to socialize with others despite blushing are far better goals that are objective than what you wrote down.


  10. Carlos,

    I speak in metaphors of the “heart” because it is a universal symbol of the non-linear aspects of our hurts, wounds, traumas as well as those noble things such as joy, love, compassion, etc. Research has a place. Often, what happens is that researchers are very linear folks (not all) who do not realize that things such as “intuition” and real “listening” to subconscious cues are extremely important and skills that cannot be taught in a journal article. I have consistently found that narcissistic and linear psychotherapists who live only in their logic greatly miss connecting because they themselves are disconnected inside.

    If you don’t understand and cannot relate to what I am saying then perhaps these things might apply to your perspective, with all due respect, friend.

    Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.
    http://www.DrSam.tv

  11. Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D. Wrote:

    “Often, what happens is that researchers are very linear folks (not all) who do not realize that things such as ‘intuition’ and real ‘listening’ to subconscious cues are extremely important and skills that cannot be taught in a journal article.”

    Anecdotal evidence isn’t a reliable way to support a statement, esp. since human beings have a tendency to engage in selective attention and selective memory. In other words, most people (including Psychologists) usually pay all of their attention towards information and experience that supports their beliefs and assumptions while ignoring or reducing the importance of information and experiences that contradict them.

    In addition, intuition and creativity may have a place in formulating hypotheses or assumptions but it is not a means for obtaining knowledge. The only reliable way to obtain knowledge is through the scientific method, not through “intuition,” or detecting for “subconscious cues,” whatever that means. It sounds to me that you have mistaken your intuition as a reliable means of finding knowledge.

  12. Your intuition may be a marvelous device for generating hypotheses, but in the end of the day, we must tests these hypotheses through the Scientific Method. Otherwise, they remain just that: hypotheses.

  13. Has anyone here ever heard of EXPERIMENTAL psychology? That is very real. As for “clinical” applications, well, you pay your money and you take your chances…..

  14. Carlos,

    I guess we come to the question of “What is consciousness.” No one can find it. Not in test tubes, not in PET scans, etc. Where is the observer? Is the “ghost inside the machine”? Then some physicists believe that the moment we observe anything, we alter it. If we cannot not know anything outside the scientific method, we are doomed. I guess I could never know if I was in love with the woman who is now my wife and mother of some fantastic kids. How do I put love through the scientific method to know if it really exists? Scientific method… sounds so clinical, cold, faceless, and disconnected. Maybe it is an excuse from many to deny whole realms of reality they cannot understand and a position where one is king, in total control.

    Best regards,

    Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.
    http://www.DrSam.tv

  15. William, have I heard of ‘experiental therapy’.
    I should not write when I am as tired as I am now.

    But as far as I am concerned, it’s the best of any therapy…totally!

    Skills, I must say that I just met for the first time a social worker who is great. She specializes in breast cancer treatment and does groups and SHE is great. Another good one I came across is a marriage and family therapist trained in CA, and I am really impressed with that CA training.

    Otherwise, every other social worker I have ever come across are total ‘bitches’, and dishonest and horrible. (sorry, I don’t mean to sound opinionated! kidding)

  16. Katrin:

    I said “EXPERIMENTAL” psychology, not “experiential.” Big difference. Big.

    As for Dr. Sam’s musings on consciousness, I can only say that the statement, consciousness is “not in test tubes” would have resulted in major grade deductions if written by one of my undergraduate students. The quality of scholarship in the clinical/counseling/whatever professions is, indeed, rotten to the core…

  17. Sorry, William, I never exactly knew that there was a difference but am more clear about it now.

    I trained for years with the most incredible therapists in ‘Psychodrama and Group Psychotherapy’, and that is considered ‘experiental’

    Which brings me back to the original topic of this article.

    Psychology is in itself not ‘rotten to the core’, and I can say that with a straight face only because I met the very best of what psychology has to offer. It is a true science but needs to be practiced additionally as an art. the best of therapy needs to move the patient in the gut not only the brain.

    But it is so very rare to see and experience really great psychology, and I didn’t know ‘nothing’ about what the hell I was doing and therefore didn’t want to practice something I did not feel competent at. (seems like I was the only one in my class who had that problem, and that is sort of scary)

    I think psychology is not right because it is not correctly understood, and therefore not taught right and therefore mostly /often not practiced correctly.

    Good psychotherapy should move you in a direction where you really want to change not stand still with ‘should change’.

  18. Also, individual therapy, although a good start, is by itself totally self limiting.

  19. And group psychotherapy, most therapists have no clue in how to practice. It’s a completely different thing than individual therapy. The group is the patient and not a bunch of individuals.

  20. Katrin:

    There is an important distinction to be made between the basic science of psychology and its many applications…clinical being the most well-known. As an experimental psychologist, I research brain structure and function, evolutionary processes, and cognitive aspects of consciousness. I have no interest in making people’s lives better (except in my own personal relationships). I am a psychologist in this sense, to understand human behavior and to report on what I find. Much of “therapeutic” psychology is snake oil and I urge you to stay away from it.

  21. Well, that is why I did stay away from it until I finally hit on ….

    I think it is great what you are doing, and much needed. I would participate in any of your research.

    Sorry again that I didn’t get it, and thanks for calling me on it.

    KAT

  22. I mean to also say, William, that all good therapy is, and should be continuous RESEARCH. With, or without a therapist.
    I am constantly doing research, and every form of experimentation is real science?
    Katrin

  23. Psychology is not therapy. Remember that. Psychology is the basic science that studies human behavior. Therapy is the attempt to help people to feel better in their life. You are not consulting a “psychologist” if you are seeking to improve your life. You are consulting a “therapist.” Most of whom are woefully ignorant of the variables that influence human behavior.

  24. Katrin,

    I’m glad I did not take your course because there are scientists and medical professionals that agree that “the observer” has not been found via chemical reactions, scans, etc. Stanford university has built a multimillion dollar lab to study consciousness and yet no one has yet been able to find where it is. I still have not found one textbook (I also teach at an academic institution) that can explain what “consciousnes” truly is and where it is found in a brain.

    See another perspective:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s42mrdhKwRA

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrcWntw9juM&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7p5xHD0Bhk&feature=related

    Best regards,

    Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.
    http://www.DrSam.tv

    • Highly interesting remarks.
      THANK YOU, and I will research this.
      I also have admired and been enlightened by your earlier/later remarks.

      Don in MN

  25. Katrin:

    I don’t respond to anonymous email addresses but, I have conducted many research projects. If you can let me know more about whom I’m responding to, I’ll give you more info.

  26. Hey William, again I apologize about being careless in my use of words, i.e psychologist, therapists. Of course I know all this but I tend to be sloppy sometimes in my use of words.

    As to my being anonymous and the e-mail thing, I am certainly not about to justify myself….

    Again, I was sloppy in that I did not consider if I am trustworthy or not to you before showing interest in your research, but I was going by my being trustworthy to myself.

    And it’s my most private e-mail with full name and all. Plus you can look me up by just googling my name under Katrin Reichhold, but it’s rather not important to me either way.

    I also have a profile here on this site where you can write anonymously.

  27. Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D. wrote:

    “I guess we come to the question of “What is consciousness.”

    No we didn’t. We have came to the question, “how do we obtain knowledge?” and one which I answered well.

    “No one can find it. Not in test tubes, not in PET scans, etc. Where is the observer? Is the “ghost inside the machine”?”

    First, you need to define what is consciousness before you try to find it. Otherwise you’ll be just doing a goose chase.

    “If we cannot not know anything outside the scientific method, we are doomed. I guess I could never know if I was in love with the woman who is now my wife and mother of some fantastic kids. How do I put love through the scientific method to know if it really exists?”

    Once again, you need to define exactly what you mean by your abstract terms like love. I realize now that you have a tendency to being vague. I would recommend that you start to be more concrete and specific.

    “Scientific method… sounds so clinical, cold, faceless, and disconnected.”

    There’s that emotional reasoning again…

  28. To Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.

    Human beings are prone towards self-deception. You say that you love your wife and you’re probably honest, but it could also be possible that you are only deceiving yourself and that you actually despise or even hate her but are too ashamed to admit it. Also, the best means of finding out an individual’s personality is through his/her friends and family. Why? Because people don’t actually know themselves as they think they do.

    Observation, experimentation and rational analysis is the best means of finding knowledge. Not intuition.

  29. Also Samuel, you are forgetting that people are prone towards self-deception. Also, people don’t know themselves as well as we like to think. Why do you think that CBT therapists make their patients and clients do self-monitoring exercises? Why is it that the best way to know an individual’s personality is by asking that person’s friend and family members?

  30. Another example of how people don’t know themselves as they would like to believe is that there are some people who are in denial of their sexuality. Even though they really believe they are heterosexual, they are actually homosexual but are too ashamed to admit it.

  31. Interesting, Carlos! And, you are right!

  32. I agree with William in the sense that this article should’ve been entitled “Is Clinical Psychology Rotten to the Core.” I generalized it because I’m not sure the average layperson knows or appreciates how many different sub-fields of psychology actually exist (dozens!). Clinical psychology is one of those sub-fields, and arguably the largest and most well-known. It is also what most psychologists in the profession do — clinical practice.

    Which is to say, this article only deals with clinical practice issues and how to train the best clinical psychologist possible. The problem is that researchers have a very specific idea of what that looks like, which may be very different from that of the people who actually practice psychology through psychotherapy.

    There are many forms of therapy, of course, and many therapists who practice it. It is a misnomer to suggest that the generic term “therapists” only refers to people who practice “issues in life” counseling, as opposed to the treatment of serious mental disorders. It is not a differentiation most people make, as far as I can tell. Most people seem to use the generic term “therapist” to describe any professional who providers psychotherapy — including psychologists.

  33. Carlos,

    Thank you for your input. We both differ in our models. You appear to believe that only what can be proven by the scientific method is valid. I don’t share that. Maybe someday when we have better instrumentation then everything can be run through a gadget and a test to determine what is “truth” about it. I don’t think that day will totally come.

    I understand what you mean by “emotional thinking” but I sense that you don’t respect that in your model. I would simply say that there are many qualitative researchers that pay very closely to “emotional thinking.” They do not discount it. I personally believe that there is no such thing as non-emotional pure research even from quantitative researchers. Qualitative guys have known this all along. The quantitative guys sometimes have fits over this and scream “No way!”

    Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.
    http://www.DrSam.tv

  34. I agree in that all and every research must include a subjective component if it is to be worth anything. Not only objective observation.

    I worked with some great researchers at New York Hospital in NYC, and only RN’s were allowed to do anything with the research clients, ONLY. Because not just anyone can be trusted with Research and it must be a great question and it must only have interest in the name of truth, and this includes what you were not looking for.

    Good research takes integrity, ability to analyze, and a lot more.

  35. I’m not sure I understand why there’s so much vehement disagreement. What is the problem with knowing what research shows about treatment protocols? Or using those with the most scientific support as the first line of line of defense?

  36. To Samuel:

    “Thank you for your input. We both differ in our models. You appear to believe that only what can be proven by the scientific method is valid.”

    Let me clarify. I believe that one can only obtain knowledge through the Scientific Method; from my understanding, there is no other method of obtaining knowledge. Too many times there are major flaws with the other methods. For instance, some people try to utilize anecdotal evidence to support an idea but that isn’t reliable because first of all people’s memories are imperfect. Second of all, people tend to engage in selective attention and selective bias (or confirmation bias) as I mentioned before. Plus, people tend to engage in self-deception without even knowing it.

    As for emotional reasoning or appeal to emotions, I think it is quite obvious what is the problem with that. For instance, if I like a form of therapy does that feeling prove that the therapy works? No, just as much that just because the feeling of happiness over the idea that my wife is faithful doesn’t mean she is faithful.

    There are other non-scientific ways that people try to find knowledge, but really, only the Scientific Method is the best we have. We may not know everything and we sometimes have to settle with assumptions about our world but everyday we learn something new from it.

  37. Samuel,

    Thank you for your beautiful beliefs you have shared throughout this response forum. In my 3 years of doctoral study in psychology, I have been amazed by the complete “linear” thinking, as you put it, demonstrated by most faculty within my training program as well as by too many of my doctoral colleagues. We as human beings have become so disconnected from what makes us human, what makes us whole. It sometimes makes me sad to see that so many of my colleagues, with the ability to contribute towards one of life’s greatest honors and joys (mending the sick, or strengthening the vulnerable) are instead so in need of help themselves (i.e. this Carlos person on this forum). What a shame that people entering or in one of the great helping professions are so disconnected from the true callings of the field. Thank you again, Dr. Lopez de Victoria, for giving me hope that there are still some professionals out there who truly prioritize facilitating the human soul over publication credits or adherence to “evidence based practices”.

  38. To Doctoral Student:

    It is sad when a person resorts to attacking their opponent’s character rather than refuting their argument. But I guess when you have no evidence or argument to support your position, I guess that is your only resort isn’t it?

  39. Thank you for in fascinating insights Samuel…as doctoral student put it…thank you for being a beacon of hope!

    I do have to say I think it’s time you and Carlos should just agree to disagree…I’m sure you can both go on for hours defending yourselves.

  40. Doctoral Student:

    I agree with Carlos that your comment is really off, and childish and unprofessional.

    Yes, I wrote a pretty ‘bad’ comment myself, but I do not advertize as a third year doctoral student, and plus, I have lived long enough, and through enough, that I allow myself some ‘off’ comments.

    But someone like you should really take in, and listen to someone like Carlos, because he has a good point whereas you sound like a preacher.

    Also, you will have many clients yet to come (hopefully) whom you won’t like and/or agree with, and who will push your buttons a lot more than Carlos’ comment. So start practicing. (not to mention for future kids you may have)

    Katrin


  41. No problem. I agree to disagree. :)

    I would like to say that we each have perceptual filters that influence how we see the world and how we get results in our research methodologies. Everyone here, myself, Carlos, Katrin, Doctoral Student, etc. have biases that affect how we approach the discussed topics. We tend to project our issues on others and the discussion. This is a good example of how easy it is to misunderstand each other and that it takes much grace, patience, and skills that go beyond being technical experts of some area in order to create a harmonious accepting of views, even if they are diametrically opposite of ours.

    This has been a great discussion. Thank you to all!

    Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.
    http://www.DrSam.tv

  42. Oh, and I forgot to say that I agree with you and really liked this article a lot and certainly am on your side of the point.

    Thanks, and sorry I did not mention this earlier.

    Kat

  43. And then there is one thing for sure, and that is that if one cannot change one’s mind, then one really cannot change anything.

    (I did not make that up but forgot who said this and exactly how he said it)

  44. correction: I really liked your comments, Dr. Sam.

  45. Last, for those who have become familiar with my style of commenting, and you see me do better sometimes than other times?

    Forgive me as I am really senile these days, or call it chemo-brain on top of menopause.

    Kat

  46. Dr. Sam, just now saw that comment to me about your being glad you did not take my course. I really think I am senile if I came across as telling that psychology is a pure science, and are you referring to the Psychodrama?

    There is a science underlying groups which is called ‘Sociometry’; it applies to how people relate to each other but that’s it. I won’t say more in order not to mess up more.

    Otherwise, even if I said the opposite, I am really with you.

  47. Katrin,

    Do not worry, in my book you are still cooool! :)

    I have read some on psychodrama but do not consider myself competent enough to give you a good opinion. I know it has been around for a long time and some family psychotherapists use it a lot.

    The modalities that I use are based on a model of trauma/belief that, in my humble opinion, is the best model to help people to heal with. There are a variety of techniques that use this model and I have used many of them and have developed my own over the years. Some of these approaches are such like NLP, EMDR, EFT, Energy Therapies, Applied Kinesiology, etc. I’ve seen too much healing with these that I cannot help but think that much of what is taught in grad schools today is ancient technology that works slowly if at all. Part of the reason for this is that academicians tend to be of a certain ilk or they cave in to a mindset of being stuck in their head and disconnect from intuition based treatment. Just my two cents. It is just another opinion.

    Thank you, Katrin. :)

    Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.
    http://www.DrSam.tv

  48. Sorry Katrin,

    I see you are the highly mature one on this blog:

    Katrin at 9:50 pm on October 3rd, 2009

    William, have I heard of ‘experiental therapy’.
    I should not write when I am as tired as I am now.

    But as far as I am concerned, it’s the best of any therapy…totally!

    Skills, I must say that I just met for the first time a social worker who is great. She specializes in breast cancer treatment and does groups and SHE is great. Another good one I came across is a marriage and family therapist trained in CA, and I am really impressed with that CA training.

    Otherwise, every other social worker I have ever come across are total ‘bitches’, and dishonest and horrible. (sorry, I don’t mean to sound opinionated! kidding)

  49. Thanks, Doctoral Student, and also sorry for bring so hard on you. Cheers, Kat

  50. As a patient, and hopefully future PsyD, I have to say that most of what I read on here, aside from the article itself (which was very well written and had a healthy sense of skepticism) is a little alarming.

    I agree with Dr. Sam and some others here who find the disconnect between the academic mentality and the actual human.

    One thing that I find startling as a patient is the lack of compassion from some of the practitioners I have met. It means a great deal, as a patient to have someone acknowledge one’s pain.

    Although I understand the importance of research, I have to agree that too many researchers forget the difference between humans and lab rats.

    I will as a clinician, never forget that the person in front of me has a spirit that is ill. That is trying to heal and that my job is to help in that process.

    Melodramatic as that may sound to you staunch academics, so be it. That’s where I will choose to work from.

    Lastly, to skillsnotpills, your comment of the social work field was harsh and untrue. I know many social workers who have great insight into the human experience and are great healers. No, they don’t have the training that you think premium, but what they lack in what you consider top-notch training, they make up in innate intuition. Something I have seen lacking in many a ivy league trained hacks.

  51. “Although I understand the importance of research, I have to agree that too many researchers forget the difference between humans and lab rats.”

    While Human Beings are unique in the sense that they have abstract reasoning and complex language, the fact is we are animals. That isn’t to say that makes us unvaluable, but we are animals and a product of evolution. This is a fact.

    Plus, Cognitive Science and Social Psychology has reveal a great deal about Human Beings as I stated before.

    I also find it funny that many people seem to think of Scientists as being cold and austere, yet have not provided any evidence for this. Just anecdotal evidence which isn’t reliable for the reasons as I stated above.

  52. “One thing that I find startling as a patient is the lack of compassion from some of the practitioners I have met. It means a great deal, as a patient to have someone acknowledge one’s pain.”

    I have also met many Clinicians who relied on their intuition and clinical judgement but weren’t understanding and empathetic to my mental illness which is Social Anxiety Disorder. I’m sorry, but just because a therapist relies on intuition doesn’t mean that they are understanding and empathetic. Also, Scientist do dwell on Cognitive Processes as the field of Cognitive Psychology shows.


  53. Pt. # 5678,

    That was a perceptive contribution. I liked it!

    I would like to direct you to what I consider a great way to explain what you and I are trying to describe. David Hawkins, a psychiatrist, broke down how you can know where people are at in their lives in terms of “enlightenment.” The model explains well why people are stuck in certain levels. It also explains why some persons are live in emotional darkness along with their belief systems. There are toxic levels and inspiring/empowering levels. The model explains why some persons make you feel exhausted when you are with them and others energize you.

    It is interesting that Hawkins quantifies how persons who are “academic” are stuck in a rationalistic level where they do not understand what the power of healing is behind unconditional love. One reason is because they have to control their world and love is scary. To go into the realm of uncondtional love one must be willing to admit that one’s intellect might be flawed or imperfect and linear. Love is not linear and you must surrender your ego to enter there. Hence many academics can only refer to unconditional love but do not live it. That is why they make lousy therapists/healers.

    I found a good link that explains well Hawkin’s model in a cursory way. He has written extensively on the matter. I recommend his first book on Power Versus Force as a great eye-opener.

    Here is the link and I wish you amazing success as you pursue becoming one of the great healers of our time:

    http://celestinechua.com/blog/2009/02/map-of-consciousness/

    Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.
    http://www.DrSam.tv

  54. Pt. # 5678,

    Sorry for the typo. I meant,”That was a great contribution. I liked it!”

  55. A Clinician can rely on Science and use empathy to their clients. In fact, it is very much emphasized in CBT. For instance, in the book “Anxiety Disorders and Phobias: A Cognitive Perspective” by Drs. Beck, Emery, and Greenberg, you will find that a guideline for using Socratic Questionings in therapy states “The questions should be timed to foster rapport and problem-solving.”

  56. After reading and re-reading some of the “history”, description of, and mission of PCSAS, it is clear that the issue supersedes just a conflict of interest.

    The mention of only Ph.D. programs on their website, and their explanation of why there needs to be reform (a shift from University based programs to free standing for-profit programs, large classes, etc etc) is a direct attack on Psy.D. programs. I doubt very much any of the Board of Directors have a Psy.D.

    It is clear that their main beef is the lack of emphasis placed on research in “these programs” (my quotes). However, it seems that they make greatly overgeneralized statements about Psy.D. programs and research, as many programs incorporate research/experimental training and emphasize the importance of research in clinical training and practice. These are the practitioner -scholar model programs.

    My feeling is that these individuals feel threatened in some way since there is nothing preventing someone with a Psy.D. from working in academia or conducting research. Somehow, they are upset about this.

    The Vail Conference made it perfectly clear that PhD programs did not adequately prepare individuals for clinical work as programs up to that point where to much based on research. In fact, if I remember correctly, the Vail Conference and emphasis on shifting to another model was headed by PhDs who felt ill prepared for direct clinical care.

    As upsetting as such a reform might be to us PsyDs (in the words of Rodney Dangerfield, ‘No Respect!’), in the end I’m not too worried. The gold standard of accreditation for psychology is the American Psychological Association. If you attend an APA accredited graduate program, you are golden.

    I feel that in order for these folks to push their propaganda and get ahead, they are going to have to directly challenge APA in redefining what constitutes a “good” clinical program – somehow, I don’t see them succeeding.

    However, its probably safe to assume that somewhere, some program or programs will embrace this push for reform.

    It will be interesting to see which ones actually apply.

  57. Dr. Wayne,

    I share your views. I also have wondered whether there is a subtle bias and discrimination towards Psy.D.’s from Ph.D. academicians at institutions offering Ph.D. level Clinical Psychology programs. One thing I have noticed is that Psy.D.’s tend to get relegated to oversee only or primarily clinical practicums/residencies instead of being permitted to teach standard graduate curricula. I also do not see many Psy.D.’s being given chairmanships of Psychology departments at these schools. I do think there are some schools that do not have this bias but they are smaller ones, private, and not so close-minded.

    Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.
    http://www.DrSam.tv

  58. Dr Wayne – Indeed, reading the paper itself is an exercise in watching authors try and implicate an entire set of dozens of degree programs with broad-stroke generalizations, all the while saying “while there are exceptions…” Well, if there are “exceptions,” why not delineate what specific programs — regardless of degree — are subpar (in their eyes) and design their new credential around that. Instead, you have many paragraphs about the evils of Psy.D. programs.

    And I say “evils” tongue in cheek, since the largest evil of these programs is that they are not as research-oriented as most of their Ph.D. brethren. Which is, of course, by design.

    Seems like some academics want us to go back to the 1960s, when there were very few psychologists being trained, and it was indeed a very elite profession. Now that it’s been opened up to more individuals (who the researchers basically call dumber), they are crying to try and reinstate the standards of 40 years ago. Good luck with that, I say.

    The barn door’s been open and there’s no putting the horses back in.

  59. My comment was lost and I hope it won’t appear later as it sometimes does.

    I was thinking about a favorite researcher, Bessel van der Kolk, and who is well known in trauma research. He has tons of integrity, and is very caring as well.

    He told, (at a lecture I attended) that the problem with his research is that he cannot do what he needs to do because of Government regulations/limitations, and I really empathize with his frustrations. (They are ridiculous!)

    Van der Kolk used to be popular with the ‘elite’, and by that I mean the field of Psychiatry and Psychology that goes by the ‘Bible of psychoanalytic therapy and thinking’.

    But he no longer is because he searches for truth more than popularity, and he has found that many other types of therapy are of great benefit in the treatment of trauma, including such as ‘Massage Therapy’.

    Talking about a compassionate researcher and scientist!!!

  60. As a mental health patient who has been in treatment for over a decade, I would love to see the revival of psychiatrist-therapists, educated and trained to practice from the psychoanalytic, psychodynamic, CBT, and/or eclectic approaches.

    After nearly decade of treatment, I have come to be extremely thankful and appreciative of my “T-Doc”, Dr. S., who I was lucky to have found after all these years. Now I see what I’ve been missing. My regret is not finding this type of clinical practitioner sooner, as neither general practioners nor psychiatrists have recommended this type of treatment to me. I did not know they existed.

    I also appreciate the thoughtful comment from patient and future clinician Pt. # 5678 (8:07 pm on October 5th, 2009):

    “I agree with Dr. Sam and some others here who find the disconnect between the academic mentality and the actual human.

    One thing that I find startling as a patient is the lack of compassion from some of the practitioners I have met. It means a great deal, as a patient to have someone acknowledge one’s pain.

    Although I understand the importance of research, I have to agree that too many researchers forget the difference between humans and lab rats.

    I will as a clinician, never forget that the person in front of me has a spirit that is ill. That is trying to heal and that my job is to help in that process.”

    I cannot forget that one of the most compassionate, dedicated, and skilled therapists I’ve had over the years was a clinician who had a LCSW degree. I’m not sure how the training/education is today in this field (he was in his 60s when he passed away a few years ago), but he sure was a star who shined admist the plentiful faded and dull ones in the therapeutic sky…

    Thanks to all the dedicated therapists out there who are truly compassionate and empathetic to those of us who suffer from mental illness. :)


  61. Bravo, Mental Health Patient!!!!!

    Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.
    http://www.DrSam.tv

  62. To Mental Health Patient:

    “Although I understand the importance of research, I have to agree that too many researchers forget the difference between humans and lab rats.”

    I hope you aren’t implying that human beings aren’t animals.

  63. Also based on what evidence can you support that researchers aren’t compassionate? Do you have a survey?

  64. I’ll give you one interesting finding in this area… While all therapists surveyed in one study agreed that being in therapy was important for a therapist, cognitive-behavioral therapists were least likely to actually have been in therapy themselves ever. Researchers often love CBT because it is a treatment approach that is amenable to manualization.

    Manualization, to many psychologists and therapists, is the exact opposite of what they view as what makes therapy work. Even medicine rarely adheres to any kind of rigid manualized treatment for disease treatment. While there are certainly practice guidelines, they don’t boil down to a step-by-step how-to guide.

    And that’s what I think you find clinical psychologists (and therapists) objecting to — the idea that you could train an educated high school student following a manual to do the same work they do. (And why couldn’t you, if manualized treatment was the supposed gold standard? Who can’t follow a manual??)

  65. Dr. Grohol,

    I think perhaps also CBT therapists tend to be less disturbed and neurotic than ‘the other type’.

    About 25 years ago, I was hospitalized on the psychiatric unit of our local hospital, and before HMO’s and all the ‘bad’ stuff started taking over. There was this one Social Worker who mostly did referrals and paper work. Another Social Worker did the group therapy. This man practiced there for 20 plus years and was never once observed by another therapist, or supervisor of any kind. He was not only ‘worthless’ but totally destructive…horrible, but nobody listened to me, of course. Then there was this art thing, and for all these affairs your psychiatrist decided if you were to go or not.

    I was on that same unit again some seven years ago, and now in a time when the moment you arrive your discharge planning begins.

    But there was this really, really great change that I saw, and I had absolutely zero experience with CBT.

    There were a few of them, and all day long, every hour, a different therapy for patients took place, all CBT. It was no longer your psychiatrist who decided if you were to go or not, but the patient. You could attend as few or as many as you wished although it was greatly encouraged. The therapist would walk around to the rooms and everywhere and encourage you to go.

    And they were absolutely fantastic. the therapists, and I don’t know what their education was, were not only nice and kind, but really normal. There was no ‘hidden agenda’, and no ‘bullshit’. These sessions were so effective and even fun, and I totally could use them. example: maybe there were eight of us patients, and the assignment was to organize what we would do if we were lost as a group on some island, or whatever, after our plane or boat, or whatever, crashed. We had just so much food, and so much shelter stuff, and other things. how would we decide what we needed most to take with us on our journey to get back to civilization? (that type of thing)

    Then also, another person came to tell us exactly what to do if we had problems or complaints with any staff, and what number to call, and that someone would immediately show up without first telling any staff person.

    Every session we had to do an evaluation as well, etc, etc…really great changes to make the stay more effective than it used to be.

    (not edited) KAT

  66. Carlos at 3:02 pm on October 7th, 2009 – “Also based on what evidence can you support that researchers aren’t compassionate? Do you have a survey?”

    Hi Carlos,

    Like many others, I was adding my opinion in response to the article and to some of the comments, so I didn’t feel it was necessary to find definitive surveys that measure the compassion levels of researchers. However, I recently came across this study and thought you might be interested:

    Abstract

    “Preserving and promoting empathy are ethical imperatives in medical education. The authors of this commentary propose that the hidden curriculum and mixed messages learners frequently receive during clinical rotations may erode humanistic traits essential to high-quality care. Three articles in this issue focus on assessing attitude towards empathy in the health care setting using the Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy. The authors discuss salient points from these reports, reinforce the concept of empathy as a cognitive attribute, and offer recommendations for teaching and nurturing empathy in health professionals. In the reports, construct validity and reliability of the instrument were confirmed and were comparable with previous results, thus providing medical educators with a sound instrument to measure empathic attitudes in the context of patient care. The authors agree with the distinctions made in the three studies between empathy (described as a cognitive attribute) and sympathy (described as an emotional attribute) and believe that empathy as a cognitive skill can be role modeled, taught, and assessed. Barriers to empathic practice (lack of sufficient role models, failing to teach empathy as a cognitive skill, negative experiences, time pressures, overreliance on technology) can be remedied in medical education through interprofessional education and practice and institutional promotion of relationship-centered care, which maintains the centrality of the patient-clinician relationship while recognizing the importance of relationships with self and others.”

    http://journals.lww.com/academicmedicine/Fulltext/2009/09000/Commentary__Identifying_Attitudes_Towards_Empathy_.8.aspx

    Although the article does not reference researchers, it does touch upon some of the concepts discussed here.

    I have also seen studies that indicate the therapeutic alliance may be more important for positive patient outcomes rather than the type of therapy provided. If one is interested enough, I would guess that anyone here is capable of googling to find relevant articles.

  67. John M Grohol PsyD at 4:20 pm on October 7th, 2009 – “I’ll give you one interesting finding in this area… While all therapists surveyed in one study agreed that being in therapy was important for a therapist, cognitive-behavioral therapists were least likely to actually have been in therapy themselves ever. Researchers often love CBT because it is a treatment approach that is amenable to manualization.”

    That was a very interesting comment, Dr. Grohol. I’d like to expand upon that and point out that my T-Doc spent years in psychoanalysis himself and sometimes links his respective experience to my active therapy. I have found this adds to his keen insight.

    In my opinion, the manualization of therapy infers exclusion of the therapist’s autonomy, and it seems to undermine the art that encompasses insight, methods, and solutions that should be tailored with the uniqueness of the individual in mind. Patients all have different histories and personality constructs, and it seems odd to lump us all together with the facilitation of one standardized method.

    However, I can’t dismiss CBT. While CBT did not help me one bit, other patients have said CBT has been effective for their situation.

  68. Mental Health Patient,

    Good source you cited.

    I am amused when only “logic” type persons look at intuition, the heart, empathy, etc. like it is a project or a construct. It just shows that they are not from the same planet. It shows that they do not live in the realm of “connection” on deeper levels with persons that goes way beyond simply an intellectual exercise. It is a safe thing to stay in that realm because one can control his/her world via logic… so he/she thinks. Connecting with something like unconditional love is incredibly scary to these folks or there is simply no wiring present or activated to do that.

    I personally think that researchers who cannot be good clinicians who connect with patients is simply a reflection of their own emotional developmental deficits. It relates to attachments issues, primarily, growing up in a home where the child learned to disconnect from his feelings because of pain, shame, etc. or it was simply not modeled at all and one parent or both were narcissistically stuck inside themselves. Perhaps that is why these individuals gravitate towards a career in research because that arena does not necessitate being connected with your heart/soul and you can still look good if you live up in your head by becoming good at “logic.” Never mind that perhaps co-workers might not like you or that you could be socially inept.

    Again, I reiterate that it is the best to have the head and heart connected (metaphor). One needs the other. Both are best, not just one.

    Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.
    http://www.DrSam.tv

  69. I remain disturbed by the lack of any conflict of interest statement posted with this article. Despite the fact that two of the three authors are directly involved in an organization they promote within this supposedly scientific article (and same with the accompanying editorial), no mention is made of this involvement in the article’s text. Why aren’t these conflicts declared?

    I also failed to note the authors’ mention of the APCS credential, which according to the authors recognizes 52 doctoral programs and 10 internships. Guess how many people know of, heard of, or care about APCS? Even I wouldn’t recommend a person seek out a clinician who’s gone to one of these programs, because it’s a meaningless credential.

    I tend to admire the Association for Psychological Science (APS), the organization behind the publication of this article. But with the publication of this article, they demonstrated how clearly they are promoting a political agenda over a scientific one. And because of that, they’ve lost my admiration for their devotion to science. So much for that.

  70. Dear John,

    Thanks for uncovering the conflict of interest in the article about psychologists being poorly trained. Could you write a letter to the editor of the LA Times informing them of this? Otherwise, it is an undeservedly negative article about psychologists, of which I am one. They should have looked into it before publishing the article.

  71. Baker et al argue that only some treatments have been validated by the research, and thus psychologists should be implementing that select group of treatments. However, this ignores the dodo bird effect, that all bona-fide therapies are equally effective. Thus, to claim that those who do not use a subset of treatments are unscientific, ignores the scientific data that all bona-fide treatments are equally effective.

    Actually, there is a far more serious issue. Namely, psychologists are not taking the vital signs of therapy. There is a vast literature on the importance of the therapeutic alliance. In fact, it is the single most important variable in determining the client’s progress in therapy. If the alliance is poor, the client is far less likely to improve. If the alliance is strong, the client is far more likely to recover. The real problem is that psychologists are not frequently measuring the strength of the alliance. We are not picking up on ruptures in the alliance and repairing them.
    So, psychology should be like medicine in routinely and objectively measuring the vital signs of the person we are helping. We should be unlike medicine in thinking that there is only one way to help a client. A burst appendix can only be helped by surgery. A depression can be helped by whatever bona-fide treatment that fits with what the client thinks will be helpful. If we impose a treatment that does not fit with the client’s theory of change, (even if it has been validated in a journal) then we will rupture the alliance, and lose the client.

    A fuller discussion of this issue is on my blog at http://revolutioninpsychotherapy.blogspot.com/

  72. I refuted the article by Newsweek on my blog. It also contains links to a rebuttal by Dr. Barry Duncan. He took on Newsweek a year earlier about their reporting on medications, and won that exchange.
    http://revolutioninpsychotherapy.blogspot.com/

  73. So what is the most efficacious approach to therapy? How can we maximize client’s responses? These are the main questions, and, I agree with Carlos, the questions becomes, how do we acquire knowledge? We must have a valid way to answer these questions, otherwise we’re all just spouting opinions.
    Like it or not, science is the way to do it. Frankly, it worries me that a community of clinicians (not all, but some represented here) seem to be either under-equipped to evaluate scientific claims (or why the rigors of science must be applied to clinical psychology) or antagonistic to the knowledge offered by EBPs and other clinical research.
    Much has been said of clinical judgment. I agree that this is crucial in successful interventions – not only in assessment but throughout the treatment process. But clinical judgment cannot be the whole picture. This article outlining the work of Meehl (http://www.psych.umn.edu/faculty/grove/112clinicalversusstatisticalprediction.pdf) highlights the wonderful empirical research which has demonstrated the need for actuarial (basically probabilistic) assessment. This is a classic example of how science demonstrates our fallacies in thinking. Turns out, clinicians don’t have the crystal ball to see into our futures. Despite more certainty in their assessments, they are no better than lay people. HOWEVER, this does not render clinicians useless. Work such as Meehl’s pushes the field to become better – to stop doing what we can’t do and focus on what we can. Clinical psychology is too important to be left to opinions – this is why I believe strongly in a scientifically based science of clinical psychology.

  74. As a military clinical social worker/hospital administrator, I have to say that – in my opinion – it pretty much boils down to who is truly “meant” to be in the counseling profession and who isn’t. This applies to the most educated psychologist or psychiatrist and to the “lowly” clinical social worker as some of you ignorantly proclaim.

    I consider myself to be a skilled, experienced, and perceptive counselor; however, I am humble enough to know when I need to refer clients to more experienced/focused counselors in other areas/fields.

    However, I have also counseled clients that have gone to see some of the “Ivy Psychologists” on staff first, and then have journeyed to see me because of the sheer unprofessionalism and uncaring nature they encounter with said psychologist within just a few minutes of the introductory session.

    These are also the same psychologists that consider advancement and power to be their primary focus (I guess counseling is in there somewhere), and any resentment they have towards me being a flag officer/administrator/CLINICAL SOCIAL WORKER is amplified when I have to have a “conversation” with them (some do not last very long here, as I consider counseling to be my passion and purpose, and I have little tolerance for political BS and resentment). One of my best friends, a high school adjustment/general counselor (with an M.A. in Educational Psychology), has experienced the same level of “nose in the air” antics from various albeit very few school psychologists, without any regard to her proven fifteen year successful track record.

    In closing, let’s stop pointing fingers, and do what we’re meant to do. A great counselor is a great counselor, regardless of the degree and/or college/university attended.

    Just my two cents…. :-)

 

 

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