When Scripts Lie: How Media Wrongfully Portrays Counseling

Since details about counseling are shown in the cinemas and on your television screens, it might be the truth, right? Wrong!


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Onscreen Therapists – Not Your Average Characters

There might’ve been the possibility that you’ve seen therapists shown on your screen a couple of times and more often than not, what you see is mostly misrepresentation of what real-life therapists are. Pop culture’s notion of what happens during treatment sessions is mainly based on what they wanted therapists to be – fictional – rather than being authentically faithful to its source. Unfortunately, most high-quality flicks show inaccurate depictions of counseling.


“Therapy is intended to be a place to carefully and safely start to turn toward whatever it is you’ve got.” Molly Bowman, MS, LPC said. So when movie and television scripts exaggerate or use their privilege to show an unreliable rendering of an essential medical profession, it is the audience’s duty as their viewers to pinpoint what’s real from what’s not efficiently. After all, it’s just television. But if television can influence the viewer’s perspective, representation should be close to the truth.


Source: .pixabay.com


Fallacies Versus Accuracies

Below are frequent inaccuracies and errors that are shown in films and the reality behind them.


Fallacy #1: Therapists Fix Problems

Fictional counselors or therapists that you see in movies and on TV mostly provide all the answers to their clients. Even the infamous Dr. Phil who is not fictional at all offers advice and gives lectures on air. People should understand that “therapy is a lot of work and this is important to keep in mind before starting. It’s imperative to understand this so that you can set realistic expectations for yourself.”


Accuracy: Real-life therapists provide guidance and support and let their clients figure out the answers and best solutions to their predicaments. From time to time, if warranted and on certain occasions, therapists might provide suggestions on altering a particular behavior by giving activities in between sessions. This type of method is more of a directive than advice because it allows the person to explore their capabilities and inner knowledge to address their grievances and dilemmas. “While many therapists are qualified to treat common challenges such as anxiety or depression, if you are interested in working with a specialist to address a specific challenge, you should consider looking out-of-network.” Stacy Donn Cristo, LMHC said.


Fallacy #2: Therapists Are Bad At Keeping Secrets

There’s always that one therapist in a specific show that spills out all the details about a particular client to a friend or other people. And sometimes, they are even one of the antagonists of the story.


Accuracy: Therapists are sworn to secrecy by their profession and are obligated to maintain strict confidentiality at all times. Whatever conversations or experiences you’ve shared with your therapist will never be shared with anyone without your permission. However, there are always certain exceptions to the rule, especially when imminent danger or threat is looming. Usually, before the session begins, your therapist will inform you about the terms and conditions of your relationship.


Fallacy #3: Therapists Often Form Romantic Relationships With Their Patients

Vulnerability and dependency of a person who is always seeking the help of his or her therapist is somehow a written plot device for the two characters involved. Sometimes, it gives this bad impression that real-life therapists can be predatory and will take advantage of their client’s susceptibility.


Accuracy: “The foundation of therapy is based on the relationship you build with your therapist. When seeking someone out it’s important you feel comfortable with them.” says Elana Schechtman-Gil LMFT, But ethically, having sexual contact or forming relationships with people who seek professional advice is inadmissible. Dual relationships created between the patient and therapist is harmful and can be ineffective to the overall treatment.


Source: pixabay.com


Always remember that the majority of whatever you see on television or in movies about counseling is mostly counterfactual. Real-life therapists are bound by their profession to practice within the scope of their responsibility. Expectations and goals are first laid out before the therapeutic process begins to create a trusting and efficient relationship between the patient and the therapist.


This entry was posted in Films.