Sep 23, 2009
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Is anyone else getting tired of how psychologists are portrayed in the media (i.e. prime time tv shows, don't even get me started on talk shows, etc)? They're typically either in it because of their own mental health, constantly commit terrible ethical violations (particularly sexual in nature), or are constantly psychoanalyzing every word that comes out of other character's mouths. I just wish they would have a normal, ethics-intact psychologist portrayed sometimes!
 
Jul 7, 2010
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Is anyone else getting tired of how psychologists are portrayed in the media (i.e. prime time tv shows, don't even get me started on talk shows, etc)? They're typically either in it because of their own mental health, constantly commit terrible ethical violations (particularly sexual in nature), or are constantly psychoanalyzing every word that comes out of other character's mouths. I just wish they would have a normal, ethics-intact psychologist portrayed sometimes!
lol yes but that wouldn't be nearly as interesting to watch
 

cara susanna

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I was watching Law and Order: SVU and they had a character who they said was a clinical psychologist. Later on, they started calling him a psychiatrist. I was like "Wait, what?"
 
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what did you think about Dr. Tolin on OCD project?
I actually worked with him (not directly) when I worked as a research assistant! And I guess I don't really mind psychologists on shows like the OCD project, Hoarding, Intervention, etc. I was more referring to shows like Bones, Nip/Tuck, Six Feet Under, etc.
 
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As long as most of us call our patients "clients", feel we have to be Dr. Mike or just Mike so we can be more "understanding" than others, and refuse to learn anything about basic medicine we will be portrayed as quacks. Go figure??
 

Psychology 76

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I was watching Law and Order: SVU and they had a character who they said was a clinical psychologist. Later on, they started calling him a psychiatrist. I was like "Wait, what?"
I think the media commonly uses the words clinical psychologist and psychiatrist interchangeably. Psychiatrists often are portrayed as generally giving lots of therapy also. It's rather annoying.
 

psychmama

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As long as most of us call our patients "clients", feel we have to be Dr. Mike or just Mike so we can be more "understanding" than others, and refuse to learn anything about basic medicine we will be portrayed as quacks. Go figure??
Um, I'm not buying this argument. We don't have to be clones of MDs in order to promote our profession. I believe psychology is unique and worthy of respect in its own right. I don't think whether we call ourselves "doctor" is quite the point.
 

KillerDiller

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I was watching Law and Order: SVU and they had a character who they said was a clinical psychologist. Later on, they started calling him a psychiatrist. I was like "Wait, what?"
Yeah, same thing happened on Dexter.
 

Therapist4Chnge

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I think it is very much setting dependent. I work in a hospital, so everything is "patient". I know there has been a push in some places (counseling centers?) to change terminology, though it seems largely pointless.

Our viability as a profession begins and ends with advocacy and education. If we do not educate and advocate in the community, at work, and on the hill....we will lose out to cheaper and less educated alternatives.
 

cara susanna

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It's seriously annoying. The only consistent clinical psychologist I know on primetime is Lance Sweets on Bones, and he's pretty much violated every ethical standard there is.
 
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It's seriously annoying. The only consistent clinical psychologist I know on primetime is Lance Sweets on Bones, and he's pretty much violated every ethical standard there is.
Haha Lance Sweets was exactly the reason I was inspired to start this thread... I was just watching this episode where he spent 5 minutes psychoanalyzing every word Booth was saying and then a few minutes later offered "two free sessions" as part of a bet that he was right about something. Like it would be perfectly ethical for him to provide services to his co-workers (which he does on a regular basis, btw)... I also saw one last week where he coaches his girlfriend on how to pass the FBI psych eval by (among other things) telling her not to say her favorite color is red. So ridiculous...
 
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I actually worked with him (not directly) when I worked as a research assistant! And I guess I don't really mind psychologists on shows like the OCD project, Hoarding, Intervention, etc. I was more referring to shows like Bones, Nip/Tuck, Six Feet Under, etc.
Ooh jealous, about the first part.

Yes generally the psychologists on the reality shows are alright, except for the blonde woman on Whats Eating You? I can't remember her name but she was all sorts of atrocious!

And the general public really does not understand the difference between psychologist and psychiatrist. Even my friends are constantly asking me which one I am going to be, and whether or not I can write scripts.
 

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I have to admit, I do enjoy watching the show, Lie to Me. Of course the characters Dr. Lightman and Gillian Foster are both Psychologists. At least they have scientific advisement from Dr. Paul Ekman, a real applied psychologist.
 

sunlioness

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I think every profession is portrayed inaccurately on television. My family is full of lawyers and don't get them started on lawyer shows. Except for, apparently, The Wire, which isn't a lawyer show per se. Personally I've only seen House a handful of times and every time I've watched it, he's either done something so unethical that he should be fired and have his license yanked or else been seen as a God for solving something I'd expect a third year med student to be able to figure out.

Scrubs was pretty good though. :)
 

AcronymAllergy

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I think every profession is portrayed inaccurately on television. My family is full of lawyers and don't get them started on lawyer shows. Except for, apparently, The Wire, which isn't a lawyer show per se. Personally I've only seen House a handful of times and every time I've watched it, he's either done something so unethical that he should be fired and have his license yanked or else been seen as a God for solving something I'd expect a third year med student to be able to figure out.

Scrubs was pretty good though. :)
Yeah, I've heard a few residents say that they enjoyed Scrubs, and that much of it was (for TV at least) surprisingly accurate.

Personally, my favorite has always been the scene in Silence of the Lambs when Jodi Foster's character first meets Hannibal Lecter and hands him a stack of questionnaires to fill out. I was watching the movie again a couple years ago for the first time in quite a while, and when that happened, I said to myself, "now see, THAT is exactly what a psychologist would do..." :D
 

PsychDreams

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What do you think about the psychologist in HBOs In Treatment? I heard that the APA gave it an award for how realistic of a portrayal it was.
 

erg923

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It's seriously annoying. The only consistent clinical psychologist I know on primetime is Lance Sweets on Bones, and he's pretty much violated every ethical standard there is.
1. My wife loves that the name of the actor who potrays the psychiatrist on Law & Order-SVU is named BD Wong. It makes her giggle every time...

2. We were watching that episode of Bones where the psychologist helps his girlfriend cheat the "psych exam" (which was a totally misportrayed btw) by coaching her and telling her what to say. I was incredulous until my wife told me to shut-up and to quit my bitchin, as I was dsitracting her from the show. :D
 

Born2rumble1st

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One of my favorite shows is Criminal Minds and although I don't think they have any "official" psychologists as part of the team (unless Reid has a Ph.D. in psychology?), they do deal with a lot of forensic psychology issues. I have heard on good authority (the head of the real BAU spoke to a class I was in about the show and his participation in it) that it is a fairly realistic portrayal of the work done by the BAU. Though I suspect it involves just a tad more paperwork than they show on the show.... :)

What was really hilarious though, is that they use clips from Criminal Minds in their recruitment/educational video, and have the actors speak about what the BAU does. As I love the show, I was glad to see it wasn't all made up. Sigh....dream job I see you! :love:
 

cara susanna

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Reid's PhD is in Criminology, I believe.

SDN had a poll once about the most accurate medical show and Scrubs won. House has always been inaccurate (Chase is allowed to do neurosurgery?)

And, yes, I HATE Sweets. Don't get me started, Bones used to be my favorite show until it went super downhill. I hate Sweets not only because he's completely inaccurate (so he got his PhD at age 24 or so from U of Penn, which never takes first time applicants? Okay, show) but also because he only exists to remind us that OMG Booth and Bones love each other! Like we as an audience are too dumb to realize it. Plus the multiple relationship and his other numerous ethical violations drove me craaazy. I'd say he's half of the reason I stopped watching.

... Yes, I watch a lot of TV. What's it to you!? ;)
 

erg923

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And, yes, I HATE Sweets. Don't get me started, Bones used to be my favorite show until it went super downhill. I hate Sweets not only because he's completely inaccurate (so he got his PhD at age 24 or so from U of Penn, which never takes first time applicants? Okay, show) but also because he only exists to remind us that OMG Booth and Bones love each other! Like we as an audience are too dumb to realize it. Plus the multiple relationship and his other numerous ethical violations drove me craaazy. I'd say he's half of the reason I stopped watching.
OMG, I know! I cant stand that show now due to all the silly, dumbed-down relationship nonsense between all those people.
 

Born2rumble1st

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Reid's PhD is in Criminology, I believe.

... Yes, I watch a lot of TV. What's it to you!? ;)
I actually looked it up on Wikipedia after posting (because I'm curious like that), and it turns out he has PhDs in Mathematics, Chemistry, and Engineering, and BAs in Psychology and Sociology. Talk about an over achiever!

And I can guarantee you that I watch way more tv than you. :D

At one point, I made a schedule of what shows came on what nights, and when I would be able to watch them. Turns out I was watching nearly 30 hrs a week of tv (well less if you take out the commercials-the only thing I watch live is Glee). That was when I realized I had a problem.....and yet I was too attached to my shows to stop watching any of them! This, more than anything else, was probably why I was so sleep deprived during law school. :oops:
 

cara susanna

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I actually dislike when smart fictional characters have multiple PhDs. It makes it sound like getting one isn't difficult enough!

Haha, I'm the only one I know of in my program who actually keeps up with TV weekly. I try to watch it live, but otherwise I have a very nice DVR.
 

Occlumentia

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Ugh...yes to everything in this thread.

I was happy when Bones introduced a psychologist into the team, but can't stand Sweets-as-psychologist! Unethical, pushy, and full of psychobabble. And yeah, that episode with Daisy's FBI clearance test? What. Nonsense. No wonder Bones thinks psychology is rubbish, if that's what psychologists are like in the Bones universe :|

I watch In Treatment and I quite like it, although none of the clinical psychologists I know work like Dr Weston (possibly because where I am, CBT is the main training and practice modality - rather than because Dr Weston's not a realistic character).

I love Lie to Me and I don't think it does a bad job portraying Dr Lightman (NOT a clinician) and Foster (a clinician). Occasionally some of the science and concepts are real, even! I think they accurately described positive illusions in one episode, and I cheered :D

I also love Criminal Minds and often I've wondered if they do have a psychologist consultant, as some of the stuff seems pretty spot-on. (Side note: I wish the latest season wasn't going downhill.)
 
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Ugh...yes to everything in this thread.

I was happy when Bones introduced a psychologist into the team, but can't stand Sweets-as-psychologist! Unethical, pushy, and full of psychobabble. And yeah, that episode with Daisy's FBI clearance test? What. Nonsense. No wonder Bones thinks psychology is rubbish, if that's what psychologists are like in the Bones universe :|

I watch In Treatment and I quite like it, although none of the clinical psychologists I know work like Dr Weston (possibly because where I am, CBT is the main training and practice modality - rather than because Dr Weston's not a realistic character).

I love Lie to Me and I don't think it does a bad job portraying Dr Lightman (NOT a clinician) and Foster (a clinician). Occasionally some of the science and concepts are real, even! I think they accurately described positive illusions in one episode, and I cheered :D

I also love Criminal Minds and often I've wondered if they do have a psychologist consultant, as some of the stuff seems pretty spot-on. (Side note: I wish the latest season wasn't going downhill.)

Yeah, I have heard great things about In Treatment. I have watched an episode or two and it seemed to be pretty accurate. Although I think there is an episode where he hooks up with his patient (I actually used clips from it for my presentation on ethical misconduct last year). But his way of practicing therapy is very authentic.