Psychotherapy On Radio: Boon or Bane

November 22, 2019 Off By Willie Hudson

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In his early 40s and by societal standards labeled as successful, Bob is a corporate executive who loves his wife of 20 years and children; however, torment is evident in his voice when he shared the fact that he has a secret that he has taken exceptional measures to hide from his family. Bob imparted to the psychologist that he receives pleasure from trying on his wife’s undergarments. Bob is deeply concerned that his family will know about his most profound secret. Also, he worries about what they will think about his mental health status. The therapist then emphatically inquired about his background and declared his condition as a harmless fetish. It might be eccentric but nothing problematic enough. The therapist urges him to talk to his wife and free himself from the burden of this secret.

 

This is an example of an intimate conversation between doctor and client. However, this is neither private nor happened within the confines of a doctor office. The discussion was broadcasted on local radio in Los Angeles. The patient is on his office telephone, and a clinical psychologist was on the other line. Eavesdropping on this private conversation is the 122, 000 radio listeners in the Los Angeles area. According to Peter D. Kramer, a psychiatrist, “Patients can feel diminished by radio talk for a contrasting reason: it exposes the limits of their knowledge.”

Radio Therapy Shows: Are They In Or Out?

The question of societal fascination with psychology-oriented talk shows is rising. Whatever is the functional purpose it serves is not overstepping the ethical boundaries expected from professionals. We live in a period where gurus are straightforward and direct. Because of this, people wanted to eavesdrop. Therapy through the media is not something novel. In the 1950s and 60s, Dr. Joyce Brother started pioneering television, and live radio talks show discussing topics on frigidity and impotence. These topics are taboo subjects on the air. Some critics exclaimed that direct on-air consultation is not entirely for psychology and the primary purpose of such is not giving sound advice but instead, all done in the name of entertainment. In fact, David Bartlett, former president of the Radio-Television News Directors Association, once said,

“The best way to ensure the failure of a radiotherapy show is to concentrate on psychology. Good talk radio is done for the listener, not the caller. That may not always be compatible with the role of a therapist” (Independent, 2018).

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“Psychologists on radio and TV shows are now part of pop culture,” says Sheenah Hankin, a Manhattan psychotherapist who treats media personalities.

With compromising obligations and objectives, can a radio psychologist place the best intentions of the caller over the need of the radio station and advertisers to entertain? Thus, it is essential to ask if the psychologists’ loyalty is in that of the patient’s welfare. Ethical issues arise for the profession because no sound advice or help transpires when one only knows tidbits of facts about the person and draw a conclusion from this information. Moreover, the input of psychologists might influence these callers and can affect their lives. Hopefully, advice given to them is appropriate for their condition or situation.

Always Check With Your Doctor

It is always best to seek traditional professional help. Inquiring about general information with regards to different mental illnesses and condition is perfectly fine in radio shows but when dealing with private and sensitive issues, investing in a good therapist is still irreplaceable. “You will need to talk openly and honestly with your therapist about your thoughts and feelings, so it’s important to find the right specialist for you,” says Ryan Howes, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist.