Topic: Psychological therapies work for many mental health problems but only a minority of people with a mental health problem receive any 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.
John will talk about a study in which he compared self-reports of the nature, and effectiveness, of help for stress and emotional problems from conventional, informal and alternative helpers. Targeted online advertising recruited 735 adults who had sought help from either a psychic or similar helper, a psychologist, a medical practitioner; or friends/relatives. A questionnaire asked about the problems or goals that led to help-seeking, characteristics and perceived effectiveness of the service received, costs for paid helpers and duration of help-giving.
The study prompts thought about two big issues: Should alternative healing be supported as a public health measure? and, How does help work?
Speaker: John Farhall has a joint appointment as an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and Counselling at La Trobe University and Consultant Clinical Psychologist at North Western Mental Health (Melbourne Health). His primary research and teaching interests relate to the phenomenology and psychological treatment of psychotic phenomena and disorders, including how psychological therapies work, and the effectiveness of different service types ranging from bed-based services, to family interventions to digital interventions.