Friday, April 22, 2005

The Trouble with the News

Sometimes the news just pisses me off. But I, like most, am not always aware of how distorted and manipulative it can actually be until something within my range of expertise is brought to my attention. Some of you may have heard about this idea that "marital therapy" doesn't work ( http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/04/19/MNG12CB7K61.DTL ). Being a therapist, in training to do couples work, I clicked on this to find out why I should just throw up my hands and call it quits.

What I found in this article was gross generalizations, vague references to studies that are never fully identified. "Experts" who are never directly named. Then inferences made from these things that highlight 2 specific programs. It seemed more like an infomercial. The 2 people that were quoted in the articles, actually did say useful things...neither of which supported the supposition that couples therapy doesn't work (although, in fairness, the article says that it doesn't work "as well as it should" which in itself is a faulty piece of logic unless you have a measure of how well it should be working).

The one expert said that a therapist who doesn't know what they are doing can do more harm than good. Well, yeah, that's why there is an ethical obligation in our profession to actually get training in an area before claiming competency.

The second expert said that most couples who come in are coming in in crisis. His position is that it is easier to help people be more successful if they can come in before a crisis occurs. What a concept!

The moral of the story here is that we are fed these lovely sound bites of information daily. This, I assure you, is not a rare occurance. They are what Gollum would have called "tricksy." Just enough info to make you sit up and take notice, but not enough for you to formulate a cohesive sense of the scope of the issues.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

My supervisor told me about this article too and she was also pissed off that it portrayed couples therapy as not helpful. Talk about your biased and not well-researched article! Traditional approaches or whatever they call it don't tell people to avoid arguments, they teach couples how to listen to eachother. And I just love how they call teaching couples to accept each other's differences "experimental." Like it's this wild new idea that's never been tried or as if that's not what couples therapists already do - sheesh!
Hippiechick :)

Gladys Cortez said...

Personally I'm thinking that all members of the media--or at least the ones who cannot empirically prove their committment to well-reasoned, well-researched, non-inflammatory journalism--should be lined up and shot. Then the three or four reporters left alive can repopulate their species.

(I'm only about half-kidding, here.)