S66: Alternative and conventional help for stress and emotional problems: Getting help from psychics, friends, medical practitioners, and psychologists.

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By September 12, 2019 No Comments

Authors: John Farhall, Chris Pepping, Scott Miller, Lynne Johnson, Ru Cai

Year: 2019

Event: 2019 TheMHS Conference

Subject: Alternative and conventional help for stress and emotional problems: Getting help from psychics, friends, medical practitioners, and psychologists.

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers


John Farhall Is an Associate Professor in Psychology and Counselling at La Trobe University and Consultant Clinical Psychologist at NorthWestern Mental Health. He has extensive clinical and research experience in psychological approaches to assisting people living with psychosis, and in mental health service systems.

Psychotherapies are effective for many mental health problems yet only a minority of people with a diagnosable disorder receive any mental health conventional treatment, much less a psychotherapy. Some seek help from alternative sources, including friends, and healing practitioners with no ‘scientific’ evidence base, such as psychics. The extent to which alternative help should be tolerated, sanctioned or utilised within a health system is rarely directly addressed, and little is known about the comparative effectiveness of such consultations. We set out to compare self-reports of the nature, and effectiveness, of help for stress and emotional problems from conventional, informal and alternative helpers. Targeted online advertising recruited 566 adults who had sought help from either a psychic or similar helper, a psychologist, a medical practitioner; or friends/relatives. A questionnaire asked about characteristics and perceived effectiveness of the service received. Costs for paid helpers were similar across groups, but duration of treatment differed, and there were some differences in the problems brought. Psychics were rated as significantly more effective than medical practitioners and friends, but no more effective than psychologists. We raise two issues about building healthy communities: how help works; and, should alternative healing be supported as a public health measure.

Learning Objectives
Learning Objective 1: Participants will learn about similarities and differences in how help for stress and emotional problems is experienced by those seeking informal, professional and alternative helpers
Learning Objective 2: This presentation challenges conventional views about the distinction between conventional and alternative healing practices and prompts thinking about what help should be available to the population

Bedi, R P (2018) Racial, Ethnic, Cultural, and National Disparities in Counseling and Psychotherapy Outcome Are Inevitable but Eliminating Global Mental Health Disparities With Indigenous Healing Is Not Archives of Scientific Psychology 6, 96–104 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/arc0000047
Laska, K.M., Gurman, A.S., & Wampold, B.E. (2014). Expanding the lens of evidence-based practice in psychotherapy: A common factors perspective. Psychotherapy, 51, 467-481.

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