Be wary of the ‘Celebrity Psychologists’.

Photo by Julia Taubitz on Unsplash

I was recently listening to an interview with real life forensic psychologist Dr Kerry Daynes where she made an interesting comment regarding so called ‘TV Psychologists’. She explained that there are a number of tv personalities appearing as ‘talking heads’ on various true crime documentaries who claim to hold the psychologist title. However, she warned that many don’t hold the relevant qualifications to call themselves psychologists nor do they actually practise in the field of psychology.

It may surprise you that the title ‘psychologist’ is not a protected title in law and therefore anyone can claim to be a psychologist without getting themselves into trouble. Protected titles include ‘Clinical Psychologist’ or ‘Forensic Psychologist’ so wannabe tv personalities are free to label themselves as ‘TV psychologists’ or ‘relationship psychologists’ as much as they please.

The comments from Dr Kerry Daynes led me to do some investigating to find out who she may be referring to. From a simple Google search, it’s fair to say there is similar concerns held across the psychology profession with several of the ‘celebrity psychologists’ being named publicly on psychology forums. Contributors to these forums have directed other users to several of the websites of the ‘psychologists’ in question and highlight concerns with their claims and qualifications.

It’s worth noting here that holding a Bachelor of Science in psychology alone does not qualify you in any way to call yourself a psychologist. This is certainly the case in the United Kingdom. (This may be different in America). Psychologists must go through further study accredited by the British Psychological Society at Masters & even Doctorate level. There are also strict elements on the correct route to qualification that involves supervised learning in appropriate settings (for example clinical or forensic settings) before being approved by the BPS. It’s also worth noting that membership of the BPS varies, and it’s quite easy to get yourself a student or graduate membership provided your undergraduate course is or was accredited. This type of membership realistically holds no value other than to confirm you’re studying or have graduated from a BPS approved undergraduate degree. Student or graduate membership with the BPS in no way qualifies you as a psychologist.

A few important questions to consider here:

Ignoring the legalities of the situation, is it entirely ethical to label yourself as a psychologist of any kind, while fully understanding that your qualifications do not give you the required level of education for the title?

Is it fair to mislead an audience?

What potential risk is there in the unqualified opinions and advice being shared?

With this in mind, I’ll leave you to do your own research on the matter if this interests you. You’re of course free to make your own judgment about the claims and ethical considerations attached to this debate. Please add a comment with your thoughts!

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Psychology graduate writing about true crime, psychology and mental health.

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Mind Cracker

Psychology graduate writing about true crime, psychology and mental health.