August 19, 2014

Worsening Attitudes toward Psychotherapy

The Article Can Be Found Here
Major Finding: People have had increasingly negative attitudes toward seeking psychological help between 1968 and 2008 (d = -0.81).  The authors conducted a meta-analysis of 22 studies with 6796 participants to show this.  Only studies using a specific measure, the ATSPPHS, with US college students were included to maintain homogeneity across time.

1. Does this result surprise you (as it surprised me!)?  Has it been your perception that attitudes towards seeking psychological help were worsening, improving, or staying the same?

2. The authors state that one reason for this finding could be increased public buy-in for biological explanations of psychopathology, which increases the perceived usefulness of medical intervention (e.g., psychotropic drugs) but reduces the perceived usefulness of psychological intervention (e.g, psychotherapy).  Do you think psychological interventions will continue to have a place among the general public?  What does psychology need to do to maintain or improve a positive reputation?

3. The authors also state that these findings could be due in part to a population-wide increase in stress, depression, and anxiety over the past few decades.  One consequence of that could be that, with more of the general population distressed or having psychopathology, it causes people to perceive distress and psychopathology as a normal part of life.  This in turn may raise the threshold of distress that would be necessary to view seeking help as necessary or helpful.  Do you think this is a valid explanation?  If so, can/should anything be done to change this?

4. Do you think the article made fair conclusions based on the design and limitations of the study?  Are there possible confounding variables that could account for the correlation between time and decreased perceived usefulness of psychological intervention?

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