One of their own blasts therapists for shoddy work:

Profession full of harmful 'therapy-of-the month'

January 11, 1997  Special to the Gazette

by Donna Lafromboise

In the 1960s, 14 per cent of the American public had received some form of psychological counselling at least once in their lives. By 1995, this was true of nearly half of the population. According to some predictions, the figure will rise to four out of five Americans by the turn of the century.

Tana Dineen, a Victoria psychologist with more than two decades of experience, is alarmed by this trend. In Manufacturing Victims: What the Psychology Industry is Doing to People, she says she is embarrassed to be associated with her profession.

While conceding that it still contains principled practitioners and rigorous scholars, she says these individuals have been overshadowed by hucksters who value the advancement of their own careers above the well-being of their clients. The hucksters "substitute personal belief...for scientific fact," and have managed to persuade North Americans "there must be some psychological solution to all of life's pain."

Although mental-health workers claim to be caring professionals offering assistance to troubled should, Dineen demonstrates that psychology is a business that has dramatically expanded its client base by convincing more and more of us we've been emotionally wounded and now require professional help to recover.

While practicing psychologists used to spend the majority of their time treating and studying genuine mental illness, Dineen shows how their emphasis has now shifted to ordinary people's "inner children." Functioning adult clients are being encouraged to dwell on their weaknesses rather than their strengths. The end result isn't a healthier, more capable populace, but an increasingly insecure one obsessed with imperfection.

Advertisements advise people that if they are experiencing normal and inescapable emotions such as anger, fear, guilt, sadness, anxiety, loneliness, they should consider counselling.

All too frequently, mental-health practitioners turn out to be people with little scientific training who misrepresent research data and distort psychological theory to give the impression their work is grounded in science rather than the crudest speculation and exaggeration.

Thus, a woman who discovers a cockroach in her morning muffin or a man who is disturbed by a toy penis on a co-workers desk can find psychologists who'll find them to be suffering from the equivalent of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a condition once reserved for war veterans, natural-disaster victims and death-camp survivors. Moreover the counselling these people receive often turns out to be an experimental, highly controversial and potentially dangerous therapy-of-the-month.

Dineen tells us about one of her patients, whom she believed to be suffering from schizophrenia but who had seen a television program about Satanic cults and insisted on being referred to a specialist. Dineen telephoned one such therapist to discuss the man's case and, after less than a minute and without asking a single question, the therapist pronounced the man a victim of Satanic ritual abuse who required treatment. And that is despite thousands of police investigations that have failed to uncover evidence that such cults even exist.

Then there's the chilling study of people who received U. S. government-funded psychological treatment after claiming to have recovered previously repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse. It found that while 10 per cent of these people had been suicidal prior to therapy, 67 per cent became suicidal afterward. Three years after therapy had begun, most had lost their jobs and half had suffered marriage breakdowns.

Despite strong indications that some forms of therapy are impoverishing clients and destroying their lives, the psychological industry as a whole has failed to address the situation. I doesn't tell people that research says those who talk about stressful events with friends and family recover at about the same rate as those who spend money on "professionals."

While Dineen says individuals have a perfect right to avail themselves of mental-health services, she says they should be doing so as informed customers rather than as people under the misapprehension that counselling can provide simple solutions to life's complexity.

Her scathing assessment of the industry should be required reading for anyone receiving therapy, as well as for those who earn their living in this field.

Copyrigh t© 1998-2007 Tana Dineen,