Ask An Expert All About Therapy And Psychology

Ask an Expert: All About Therapy and Psychology

Say hello to Dr Ken Carter, a professor of psychology at Oxford College, Emory University. He's a clinical psychologist who knows all about what goes into therapy as well as the common, outdated misconceptions about psychology (where are all the fainting couches?).

Photo by wavebreakmedia (Shutterstock)

A teacher and researcher for over twenty years, Dr Carter's interest at the moment lies with thrill seekers — he's currently writing and researching a book about "high sensation seeking" individuals. He also has a second masters in psychopharmacology and knows a bit about medicine too.


I am pretty sure I have depression. I have never been diagnosed, or really told anyone about it. My sister has been diagnosed, and is currently on medication that helps her. Frankly, I am afraid of being put on meds. I have heard that quitting them after you feel better can sink you into a deeper depression. I don't like the idea of becoming dependent on medication. I have had suicidal thoughts in the past, and any deeper form of depression I feel could be very dangerous. Are my fears of these medications irrational?

Depression can be debilitating. Treating it quickly can also prevent future relapses. Research points out that depression can also run in families. I know that starting on medication for depression can seem daunting. Quitting antidepressants should only be done under the supervision of the prescriber. People sometimes stop on their own and feel worse. This is usually because the depression hasn't been fully treated or they are experiencing withdrawal symptoms from stopping the medicine too quickly. A good prescriber should be able to figure out if an antidepressant might be helpful for you.


It seems like every time someone commits a crime and has ever spoken about an issue with a psychologist the issue of disclosure comes up, with the assumption that they should have known or they should have shared what little they knew with the police. Can you speak a little about confidentiality between a therapist and their patient?

Confidentiality is a really important issue for therapists. Without it people wouldn't be forthcoming with what happens and the treatment wouldn't be that effective. Because of this, the communication between therapists and their clients is protected by law. There are really only a few situations where what you tell you therapist can be disclosed.

1. If you are in immediate danger of hurting someone else

2. You are in immediate danger of hurting yourself

3. You give the therapist permission to disclose the information


Do we all have 'evil' thoughts? How do you know if your thoughts are normal or dangerous? A split second moment of rage where you think anything could happen, but 99.9999999999999999999999% of the time it wouldn't. When should you actually start to be worried?

It's not that unusual to have an "evil" thought. Freud talked about that as being our ID. Jung discussed it too. Jung thought that for every positive thought we have we have an identical negative thought. He called it the principle of opposites. Acting on the thoughts is a different issue. Also if the thoughts are causing you lots of worry, that could be a problem too. Chatting with a therapist about it might be helpful to reduce your worry.


My significant other was a psychology major who has been diagnosed with general anxiety and compulsion. It is seriously affecting our family. She has refused to go to seek help because she feels like she knows what they will say. She know what her issues are and how to fix them but she takes no action. What can I do to help her as the a means seek help and things I can do to help her?

Treating a person who knows a lot about psychology can be difficult. They often second guess the therapist. I'd suggest finding a therapist who specialises in treating other therapists. They are out there! Knowing what the issue is isn't enough.


How does someone who wants to seek help actually go about doing it when they feel unmotivated and not driven to actually do so? It's a Catch-22 kind of thing where they feel unable to seek the help that could stop them from feeling unable to seek help in first place.

It's true. The first step is the hardest. But if you can find your way into the office of a helpful person, then great things can sometimes follow from that. Try not to think too far into the future—just find a good person and go to the appointment.


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