Psychology’s self inflicted wounds

22 Nov

In a talk delivered at this year’s Association for Psychological Science meeting, Scott Lilienfeld spoke of psychology’s self inflicted wounds:

“Psychological science’s lack of self-policing has also negatively affected public perception. Lilienfeld said that clinical psychologists have not always embraced scientific standards when conducting interventions (e.g., Baker et al., 2009):

  • Two-thirds of children with autism spectrum disorders receive scientifically unsupported interventions (Hess et. al., 2008)
  • Most people with depression or panic attacks do not receive scientifically supported treatments (Kessler et al., 2001)
  • Half or more of clinicians do not use exposure-based therapies to treat obsessive compulsive disorder (Freiheit et al., 2004)
  • As recently as seven years ago, 90 percent of psychologists within the Department of Veterans Affairs were not using any evidence-based treatments for PTSD (Russell & Silver, 2007)

In addition to deficiencies in clinical treatments, the public face of psychology is poorly represented by psychological science. Though there is no shortage of psychologists in the media participating in courtroom trials and television shows, rarely are they researchers. One of the most notable faces of psychology today is TV’s Dr. Phil, Lilienfeld says. While Dr. Phil has a PhD in clinical psychology, his program incorporates unsupported interventions such as lie-detector tests, psychics, and neurofeedback to treat ADHD.”

Here is the entire lecture:

2013 APS Award Address: Scott O. Lilienfeld from Psych Science on Vimeo.

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