Psychological Self-Help

Navigation bar
  Home Print document View PDF document Start Previous page
 23 of 52 
Next page End Contents 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28  

boring statistics.” Other guests report being encouraged to stir up
excitement by confronting members of the audience; other
professionals report being surprised by attacks on the show from other
hostile guests who were clearly invited by the show’s producers. Does
this sound more like entertainment or sharing professional knowledge
and expertise? 
Dr. Wilson observes that professionals who haven’t had the luck to
make their fortune by getting on a TV talk show are often encouraged
to develop their own Web site. This, too, may encourage advertising
and seem to underscore the commercial aspects of the helping
professions, especially if the Web site implies “I’m a better therapist
than other online therapists.” She again uses John Gray, who has a
correspondence school doctorate and no license to practice, as an
example of commercialism gone amuck. Gray has developed, in
addition to his books, an expensive training program for counselors,
Counseling Centers for the counselors to work in, a pyramid system to
sell his various books and games, a Web site to sell “romantic
accessories,” including lingerie, and several major efforts with
publishers to sell his books. In terms of advertising, when I started
practicing psychology in 1960, it was acceptable to publish in a local
paper a small formal announcement about your opening an office. Any
other advertisement was frowned upon. Things have changed…for the
Wilson contends that whenever professionals enter the
marketplace, perhaps selling a book, therapy, a group, or other
service, they experience pressures to impress others as well as be
entertaining. They are also likely to feel some temptations to make
overly optimistic promises, use testimonials (which are not scientific or
objective), and approve blatantly misleading ads. These kinds of
enticements tend to sabotage the integrity of professional service and
research. Professional helpers need to guard against being influenced
by the “advice industry.” Some psychologists have insisted that their
publisher tone down the advertisements. 
Lastly, there is to me one more special irony in the current
situation. By dealing with psychological content--personal and
interpersonal problems—TV and radio talk shows, workshops and self-
help books have become very popular and made enormous profits.
Clearly, the general public has enthusiastically welcomed dealing
publicly with these topics, giving their time and their money. Yet,
during the same 20-30 years, there has been almost no public support
for meaningfully teaching practical how-to-cope psychological
information in our public schools and colleges. Likewise, there has
been no support for psychosocial education coming from mental health
professionals, university faculties, or public school officials. This
contrast seems strange; why might this be? 
Why don’t we want realistic, practical psychology in schools?
Probably for several reasons, depending on the impact these changes
would have on one’s own career or role. But I believe Dr. Wilson’s
Previous page Top Next page

« Back