An Experience with an Unethical Clinical Psychologist; What to Call Out.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine approached me asking for a psychologist’s number as she felt she needed consultation regarding personal life matters. Being a budding psychologist I had gleaned several contacts from peers and teachers and was most obliging in lending her a few. Later on inquiring how sessions were going, some of the most unethical things came up; the sessions being anything but efficacious. It was to my shock as I considered this professional highly qualified having her specialization from a very well-reputed university abroad.

Psychologists whether clinical or counseling or therapists no matter what they may specialize in use the ignorance of the general public towards psychology as a field, to their advantage.

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So I decided to write this article for the awareness of all readers in hopes that this might equip you to call out your mental health professional when they cross ethical fences.

The psychologist (KR), my dear friend spent precious money on, though housed an affable personality was a chronic, careless late-comer. With precious session time pouring away this psychologist was late by 10-15 minutes regularly. Given the vehicle inundated roads of the city of Lahore it is not uncommon that an individual may run late but what is unethical however is to charge your client with full fees even though you have taken half the session. (A regular session lasts 45 minutes and the going price is Rs.2000-Rs. 5000 per session, depending on the higher education and qualification of your psychologist)

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Now let’s get into the really interesting bits of how the sessions were tackled. Within the primary session (which should ideally be an assessment session) bold, generalizing claims about my friend had already been made. Claims regarding her future were put before her, after which I got a disturbed call from my fellow and I was indignant.

Psychologists are only there to suggest techniques to equip “you” to better analyze your own situation from multiple dimensions and make a judgment call. They are in no position to outline your life just as no one else is.

Another unethical instrument being readily used was the psychologist KR constantly cutting the client off and using her (the psychologists’) own life story as a tool to measure the clients.

Upon hearing this I cannot describe the disbelief and disgust I felt towards a mental health professional who is handling people in their precarious states to only fill them up with her own personal stories which should not concern the clients especially when they are being cut off. It can be assumed that this individual was a garrulous sort and perhaps instead of clients who spend their good money on her, she needs a bunch of friends.

The sessions progressed with my companion having to fill out personality tests and writing essays?? These essays it was mentioned would be used for some website or research work of psychologist KR. “ANY” research work requires the due permission of the client on participating and their vulnerability should not be used against them in this horrible act of professional deception.

Lastly, KR is a clinical psychologist and should have referred my friend to a counselor as counseling psychologists are more adept at handling issues that are relational in matter and do not fall in the clinical range. In an ethical situation, KR should have refused the case and should have provided counseling resources.

There are null organizations and committees in Pakistan for the checking of these pseudo-professionals. Without their being a checking committee there is no way for the license of such individuals to be revoked and no established system to even complain about them, leaving the public at the hands of the psychologists’ irresponsibility.

I hope that this article enables individuals to understand some subtleties and violations of the therapy process.

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Jahan Ara Chughtai