« Scamming the Public | Main | The Lights Are On But The Doctor Isn't Home »

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


I don't disagree with you, of course, about the false advertising endemic among therapists (and don't get me started about "life coaches") on the web. However, as a master's level clinical social worker myself (with years of analytic training), I have to say that I didn't know and am bemused to discover that it is illegal for me to use the word "psychology" to promote myself. (For the record, I have not yet broken that law as far as I know.) "Psychologist" I, of course, completely understand. But while I don't practice the profession of psychology,is it not fair to say that my work has to do with coming to know something of a patient's psychology?

Thanks for your comments.

I agree with you, although you wouldn't know it to read my cranky post. I'm actually concerned about shady intent rather than the legalisms that amount to clumsy efforts to manage shady intent. I recall that as I wrote this, I did not want to create the impression that it isn't psychology that we all deal with as psychotherapists, nor did I want to create the impression that titles were my concern (as opposed to ‘substance’).

You might be able to surmise my view on this more easily in my comments on bling. At the time I posted this, I was feeling especially peeved by a series of internet ads for psychotherapists who relied on obnoxious keyword tactics that seem intended to thwart the efforts of Googlers to find what they were really searching for. In one case more egregious case of intentional search and ranking mischief, I ran across a chiropractor with a high search ranking when I ran a local search for psychologists. He achieved this by seeding of his text and use of tags to push himself high in the psychologist search rankings.

Imagine, making the effort to list yourself as a psychoanalyst and you discover that people can’t find your listing because there are several pages of cognitive behavioral therapists who have used the keywords ‘psychoanalysis’ and ‘psychoanalyst’ in their text and in the meta tags for their pages? This isn’t exactly the same thing as using the word psychology, because not all psychotherapists can be said to be dealing with psychoanalysis, but I’ve had a fair number of patients who have come to me with an understanding that they wanted to see a psychologist, knowing the distinction in training. I have little doubt that there are some non-psychologists who try to pass themselves off as psychologists as a market positioning tactic believing that it ‘works better’ than calling themselves a Licensed Clinical Counselor. I also know that there are non-psychologist psychotherapists who use the word psychology appropriately, with no intention whatsoever to misrepresent anything.

In terms of psychoanalysis, my concern with substance over title is reflected in my wish to see the notion of lay analyst gain more serious traction again. But aside from any concern about the tension between title and the non-concrete substance of the psychoanalytic approach, there are few psychiatry residencies and few non-psychiatric clinical training programs that offer good preparation for the study of psychoanalysis. In many, cases, these programs turn students against psychoanalysis altogether.

My best fantasy self doesn’t care one whit about legalisms, but my best fantasy self isn’t exactly at the controls when I am posting and he is often missing from the cockpit altogether. That is why I felt I needed to call the site Dr. X's free associations.

The comments to this entry are closed.