Interventions

Dr. Rob,
What is the deal with “interventions?” Who gets them? Are they helpful?
-Michael


This question couldn’t be more timely, as Rob’s personal nemesis (tied with Dr. Steve) Dr. Phil is up to new tricks to bolster his already colossal empire of glorified Jerry Springer fans. Recently visiting a psychologically ransacked Britney Spears, he decided to stage his own intervention, right in her hospital room no less.
Interventions, in the traditional sense, are planned confrontations (often with some type of professional “interventionist”) to get someone to seek professional help for a psychological difficulty or addiction. They usually occur after a long-standing battle with a problem that a person has been unable to overcome on his/her own. They often will involve ultimatums from friends or family members (e.g., I will no longer speak with you if you do not get help, I will file divorce papers if you do not address this problem, I will make it my life’s mission to make sure you never get laid again if you don’t help yourself), and the person being intervened upon is often surprised (and sometimes angry) at the confrontation. While some programs report that interventions are often successful, many clinicians do not support such endeavors, seeing it as an infringement on personal rights.
As a Psychologist, I am prohibited from engaging in interventions because they are considered a formal treatment. Formal treatments are required to have what is known as Informed Consent. In other words, Psychologists cannot force treatment on someone who is not asking for it (unless they are considered an imminent danger to themselves or someone else). Thus, anyone I have seen professionally has already been “intervened upon” and has made the choice to come in for help.
Dr. Phil has received criticism for his actions with Ms. Spears. The most obvious reason for this is that he was using Britney to increase his already preposterous legion of fans by dishing out his “tough love” on the fallen starlet. But you don’t see much of that in CNN.com articles. Instead, they are focused on Informed Consent, which actually isn’t applicable to Dr. Phil.
Psychologist Rule: If you are going to break the rules of a Psychologist, actually be a Psychologist.
Unless my sources are leading me astray, Dr. Phil currently has no license to practice Psychology in any state in the union. And without a license, you lose the title of “Psychologist,” despite having a doctorate in psychology. Therefore, while Dr. Phil was being a complete attention whore in trying to get Britney on his show, he wasn’t violating any formal ethical codes of Psychologists. Because he isn’t one.
Did I just indirectly defend Dr. Phil? Because I really can’t stand him.

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15 Responses to “Interventions”

  1. Charles says:

    This made my day. I’ve hated Dr. Phil for so long and for the past 4 months at work the TV has been controlled by a couple woman that watch him everyday. So I’ve suffered in having to at least listen to him 3-4 times a week and his idiotic proposals.
    Thank you Dr. Rob, I have more ammunition to fight against watching him now. All I use to have was saying he was a test tube baby made from shock value and old cliches.

  2. Drew says:

    Ditto on your Dr Phil loathing; that guy is a paragon of douchebaggery.
    As one in recovery, I can speak to two elements of this post: the use of interventions, and the prevalence of psuedo-psychiatrists in the field of addiction treatment.
    On interventions – they only really work when the addict really, really wants help (and most addicts really really want help, but are fundamentally unable to help themselves) and are at a point where they can let go of their denial long enough to accept the kind of help an intervention is designed to offer. The odds of these two elements occurring at the same time the family is offering the intervention is rare. In my case, I ‘hit bottom’, was in the hospital, and my family offered me a last lifeline – I took it, but not until I let go of any illusion that I could do it on my own.
    On pseudo-psychiatrists – the recovery world is rife with them. Anybody with experience as an addict or working with addicts can become licensed as a chemical dependency counselor, regardless of their previous education. So, often you meet addiction counseling professionals who are nothing more than charismatic advice givers with absolutely no insight into the complex psychological disfunction that is at the root of most addicts’ destructive behavior.
    AA has a prevalence of these types of characters, who take newly sober addicts under their wing, but are only capable of spouting off AA rhetoric. The result is that the addict’s main issues go untreated because they’ve been allayed by the pseudo-spiritual treatment most recovery programs offer. Unfortunately, most addicts can’t afford, or aren’t offered, the type of treatment they really need.
    I don’t know if Britney is an addict, but she seems to be exhibiting the sort of erratic behavior I’ve seen in addicts before.

  3. Robin says:

    Great story, Dr. Rob! I’d like to continue to see some shorter pieces.

  4. :yb detsoP says:

    Ah,Dr.Rob,you kick major ass,this is one solid blog that updates OFTEN! as opposed to others…thanks for uncovering frauds such as Phil

  5. Wayland says:

    I’ve never watched his show. As a matter of fact, I don’t watch Oprah. I think it’s best I keep it that way.

  6. no name says:

    eh, you’ve posted better stories.

  7. Maggy says:

    Yeah I heard about Dr. Phil not being a licensed psychologist….but he does have a doctorate so I guess that makes him legitimate in some ways…just like me having a degree in Education but not being “licensed” does not mean that I don’t consider myself a teacher. (btw…I am licensed but only for two more years while I’m here in Japan after that I’ll be just another person with an Education degree but that doesn’t make me any less knowledgeable than other licensed teachers) I’m not the biggest Dr. Phil fan but I certainly don’t hate him…he’s doing really well for himself right now and if I could do what he’s doing I would lol.

  8. rien says:

    @Maggy: Yes, but your license is *expiring.* It wasn’t legally *removed* for malpractice. 😛

  9. Kat says:

    Well, I noticed this article after seeing your post a couple of days ago I thought it might interest you.
    http://tv.msn.com/tv/article.aspx?news=293490&GT1=7703
    Looks like you aren’t the only one noting his lack of credentials.

  10. Did you go to his presentation at the annual APA conference in New Orleans (2 years ago?) I was pretty annoyed that the APA chose him, considering his past. You’d think they wouldn’t want to support someone with ethical violations and no license to practice (stemming from his ethical violation).
    I hate that when people hear Psychologist they think of that guy.

  11. gary lamont says:

    Interventions are very helpful in getting a love one in a addiction treatment centers . It gets them willing right from the very beginning!

  12. scarrett says:

    Interventions are either direct, typically involving a confrontative meeting with the alcohol or other drug dependent person (the most typical type of intervention) or indirect, involving work with a co-dependent family to encourage them to be more effective in helping the addicted individual. The use of interventions originated in 1960s with Dr. Vernon Johnson. The Johnson Model was subsequently taught years later at the Johnson Institute. This model pioneered way of intervention however has always come under scrutiny because of the “ambushing” nature that the model falls under. Despite some of the negative beliefs of the Johnson Model, it is still responsible for thousands of lives that have been turned around as the result of a Johnson Model Intervention. It should be noted however that in the last 20 years 3 other major models of intervention have been created and utilized within the field of intervention. The Heart to Heart Model/Storti Model is similar to the Johnson Model in that the element of surprise exists, however it takes out the component of confrontation and is a very loving and caring display of intervention.
    —————————————-
    Scarrett
    http://www.drug-intervention.com/virginia-drug-intervention.html

  13. frank says:

    Hi guys,drug interventions for drug addiction and alcohol abuse to help individuals with behavior problems relating to drugs, alcoholism, and prescription pills.
    ________________________________________________________
    Frank.L
    Drug Intervention Washington

  14. Karen Walter says:

    n recent times, research teams have found out that when intimidation is used, the recovery usually does not happen. That is why an intervention doesn’t condone any sort of physical threat to get somebody into treatment. An intervention is fundamentally individuals teaming up to make war to persons’ drugs or alcohol problem and making them face the reality that they require a specific treatment.
    Karen Walter

    Drug Intervention North Carolina

  15. NMOV says:

    Why are you writing about britney spears anyway? She isn’t worth the attention anymore ( hasn’t been for a long time ) !

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