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Do TV Therapists Deter People From Seeking Help?

By , black-rose-bielefeld.de GuideDecember 28, 2009

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Psychologists, patients and mental health advocates have spent many years battling social stigma associated with seeking out mental health treatment. Unfortunately, such stigma still exists today and can prevent individuals from seeking out the help and treatment they need. According to one recent study, the way therapists are portrayed in many television programs might perpetuate these negative attitudes.

television therapists
Do TV therapists create negative attitudes toward therapy?
Image Sem Rox

An article in the APA's Monitor on Psychology looks at this new study on the effects fictional television therapists have on people's perceptions of real-world mental health providers. Researchers at Iowa State University look at the type of television programs viewed by a group of 329 college student participants. The results indicated students who watched more drama and comedy programs tended to have more negative attitudes about seeking psychological help.

One of the study author's, David Vogel, Ph.D., suggests that part of this trend can be explained by the negative way in which therapists are often portrayed. "It's also likely that the people seeking help are portrayed in very extreme ways, which may suggest to viewers that therapy is only for people at those extremes," Vogel suggests.

So what do you think? Has watching fictional therapists on television altered your perceptions of therapy, therapists or mental health treatment in general?

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