TV Therapists

I’ve often wondered what the portrayal of psychologists on TV  does to potential clients. Does it make people appreciate the effectiveness of therapy or does it make them recoil?

Well, an article in the Journal of Clinical Psychology (V 64 #3, 2008) says that people are deterred from seeking psychological help after viewing TV shows.


1. People are shown that seeking help is negative and those who do so are stigmatized.

2. People are shown that therapy would not help them.

3. Therapists and clients are portrayed unflatteringly which turns people off.

Ugh, but I’m not surprised. Think about the characterization of therapists on TV: they sleep with their clients; they are crazy; they are serial killers; or they are useless buffoons. Cringe……. I understand that writers of TV shows need to create characters and conflict.   There is little use for an ethical practitioner who sits in her office (not abusing, seducing or murdering) and works to help people achieve better lives. There is no outward excitement – although the internal process can be pretty amazing.

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