What we don’t do / Myths about psychology

What we do not do

There are a number of unsubstantiated practices and myths that many or most mental health practitioners adhere to.  Some of them are not harmful per se, but they can lead to you wasting your time and missing out on opportunities to get better faster.  Some of them can be quite harmful.  We take your trust in us very seriously and we go to a lot of effort to stay educated in the best ways to help you.  But we also take great care to not to engage in any of the practices below.

Falling asleep:  It has come to our attention that a few therapists in the Charlottesville area are known for falling asleep while in session with clients.  This will never happen when you have an engaged therapist who is actively working to help you.  It is well known that many therapists just sit and listen while their clients talk.  This often leaves people not only feeling that they are not being listened to, but it also leaves them feeling as if they are not actually receiving help.  This kind of behavior from therapists is sometimes well-intentioned, even if it is completely counter to what we know about what makes an effective therapist.  But if a therapist genuinely doesn’t care, they can be prone to drifting off and daydreaming while their clients talk, which sometimes leads to them falling asleep.  We find this extremely unethical, and we will not do it.  We will always work with you and we will always be engaged.

Recovered memories:  There are no such thing as repressed or recovered memories.  When a person is severely traumatized, more often than not, they try to forget about the trauma and cannot.  The belief in repressed and recovered memories goes back to unsubstantiated theory from the early 1900’s and has been debunked many times in research.  There have been many cases in which therapists have suggested that clients have been, for example, molested as a child when they have no recollection of such an event.  In many of these cases, clients have developed Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or depression without even having experienced a trauma.  It is a quack practice, and it should never be used.

Over-focus on childhood:  Sometimes your childhood is relevant to your problem.  Sometimes it’s not.  Research clearly demonstrates that too many therapists needlessly waste clients’ time focusing and putting too much emphasis on childhood when it’s not relevant.  The treatments that we use all recognize the effect that childhood has on any given person, but also recognize that many things that have happened to you since your childhood hold equal relevance and are sometimes even more important.  We will ask you about your childhood.  But therapy will focus, except in rare cases, on the present or the last few years.  If we are working on marital problems, of course we will talk about the beginnings of your relationship as well as previous ones. 

Dream interpretation:  Sometimes dreams occur because you have something specific on your mind.  Sometimes they are a random combination of TV shows and conversations that you had during the day.  Sometimes nightmares occur because you are afraid of that particular nightmare occurring.  There is no set meaning for a particular dream and we will not pretend that we have a secret formula for interpreting them.  Dream interpretation can sometimes be fun.  But we are professionals, and we won’t play carnival games with your health.

If you have any questions about other practices that concern you, please do not hesitate to ask us and we will address them here.