What is the deal with “interventions?” Who gets them? Are they helpful?
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.