• Alex Hill

The Top Myths About Psychologists

Updated: Feb 6, 2019

The stereotypes and misunderstandings people have around what it means to be, or see, a psychologist.

As the title of this post suggests, there are several...shall I say...misunderstandings many people have regarding psychologists. Speaking to my fellow students and supervisors over the years, I've come up with a list of the most common misunderstandings we've heard.

Most of the time these misconceptions are just comments someone’s' good ole Uncle Greg has made, trying to be funny, after sinking too many Tuis.

However, I thought it'd be a good idea to tackle them once and for all.

1. "A psychologist ae?! Can you read my mind?"

Ohh if I had a dollar every time I've heard that line I'd have ... like only $30... but hey, that's a great bottle of wine right there! Short answer: No, I cannot read your mind. That would make the job so much easier if I could, however. But alas my psychic abilities are zilcho and I'm forced to understand what you're thinking about the old-fashioned way... by asking (how boring I know).

2. "Crap I better watch what I do/say around you now! You might psychoanalyze me!"

This often comes from the new poor sod I've just been introduced to at a social event, and frankly mate I am not interested in doing any sort of analysis outside of working hours.

There’s a bit of truth and error in this one however. Often most of us psychs have no interest in putting in the effort to assess someone’s behaviours/thoughts who isn’t one of our clients. We want to enjoy the social event, just as much as you do! That being said, if someone says something intriguing enough, I may (in my head) try and understand what’s going on for that person from what I know about their background. Probably the person who should watch what they say and do around me the most is myself! That’s the problem with learning about psychology – you pick up on all your own issues (such a joy).

3. “Psychologists have perfect mental health”

As you may have gathered by my previous statement, this is a bunch of baloney. Mental health waxes and wanes throughout life, for every single person, as we encounter stressors and difficulties – and psychologists aren’t the exception to the rule – we usually just have better skills and training to cope during these times.

In fact, many psychologists have had their own experiences with mental health problems in the past, which has helped fuel their passion for working with, and improving the lives of those who struggle with psychological difficulties.

4. “Psychologists make you lie on a couch and talk about your feelings”

We’ve really got Hollywood movies to blame for this one … the client sprawled on a leather chaise lounge… the psych in a perfectly tailored suit, incessantly asking “So how do you feel about that?...Mm and so how does that make you feel?...Oh and so how do you feel about that?”.

Unfortunately, in the real world, psych sessions are done sitting upright. And we only ask how you’re feeling maximum 5 times per session… we’ve been set limits… Just kidding, fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately, however way you look at it) we ask you a lot more questions than just how you feel!

5. “Psychology isn’t real science”

Oh, the good ole “psychology is a pseudo-science” line. This is a rather debated topic, and stems from the argument that psychology maybe considered ‘scientific’ however has a limited evidence base for its theories and practices. Instead, it’s been drilled into my psychology practice to base everything I do on what researchers have proven is effective and reliable. We don’t just waltz into a session and go “Well Mr. Murphy, today we are going to treat your depression by drawing pictures of happy things, like puppies…not cause science has said it can help you but because I want to play with some crayons”.

Personally, most of the time someone has brought this up is because I did my initial psychology degree under a Bachelor of Arts rather than a Bachelor of Science ... and you know apparently all Bachelor of Arts students don’t do ‘real’ degrees… they just throw parties and braid each other’s hair whilst raking up student loans…

So there are my fave misunderstandings about psychology! Leave any questions, comments or other misconceptions you've heard in the section below :)

Til the next post,

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