Follow up to yesterday’s post on harmful counseling


Yesterday I posted on the need for Christian psychology to advance its ability to avoid harmful practices. Back in 2008, I posted something similar and referred to the same Lilienfeld article as yesterday. See it here. I looked at his article again this week. Here is his list of potentially harmful therapies:

1. Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD). This one isn’t always harmful but it may be most harmful to those who are mostly likely to experience PTSD. He raises the interest point: most report it being helpful even if their PTSD symptoms are made worse by it.

2. Scared Straight Programs. Apparently, those who are taken to jail for a day to scare them out of criminal activity are more likely to re0ffend. He also addresses boot camp interventions for kids with conduct problems. These too have issues

3. Facilitated Communication. FC views autism as a motor not a cognitive problem. Thus, counselors help children communicate via a keyboard and pressure by the therapist’s hands. Appears the “communications” from the child are likely the therapist’s impressions rather than the child’s actions.

4. Rebirthing/attachment therapy. No studies indicate positive data and actual evidence of death by smothering.

5. Recovered memory techniques. While individuals do indeed recover lost memories of abuse, techniques designed to help one recover memories has been shown to lead to false memory creation. The potential for harm is great and calls into serious question whether a counselor should ever try to help a client “recover” a memory they currently do not have. Along with this treatment are a number of other suggestive treatments (where therapists may create problems by suggesting to vulnerable clients on a variety of topics): “finding” of altars in DID, expressive therapies (designed to release pent up emotions). These have significant opportunity for damage.

6. Grief counseling for normal grief. Apparently, many in the “treatment” groups got much worse than those who did nothing.

7. DARE. You know, that educational program designed to prevent substance abuse? No evidence that it does work to reduce drug use. He didn’t mention it but same has been true for “good touch, bad touch” programs.

8. Peer groups for incarcerated children. These may turn out to help them become more deviant.

9. Relaxation training for some panicked individuals. Some individuals have a paradoxical response (more anxiety). We need more data on who it helps and who may not be helped.

Interesting list. Any here that bother you? That you would want to defend?

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