Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Woo creeps in everywhere

Sometimes it's so frustrating being a skeptic among a sea of the credulous. People don't understand why you have a problem with irrational garbage, because they don't examine it themselves.

We decided to hook Kitty up with a therapist to help her deal with some anxiety. No big problem, it just seems like her worries are making it hard for her to enjoy life fully, and I'd rather help her change her thinking now, than let her negative thought patterns get entrenched. So I asked my therapist (see above, re: entrenched negativity) for a recommendation. She only knew of one person who was good and took our insurance.

So I perused this lady's website. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy . . . good, good. Integrated approach . . . OK. EFT, which uses meridian tapping to relieve depression and anxiety - WHOA NELLY!

I'd never heard of EFT, but that description set off all my pseudoscience alarm bells. I looked it up, and sure enough, it's a load of codswallop about manipulating your "energy fields." It is, of course, untestable and unfalsifiable.

So now my anxiety levels were up. How to proceed? It's possible this person is relatively competent and would teach my kid CBT techniques, and all would be well. Also, no one claims that EFT fails to alleviate anxiety - it's just that it appears to be a combination of placebo effect and distraction. Would it be acceptable for her to teach my child this technique, if it helped her?

I finally decided no, it would not be acceptable. I'm not having someone indoctrinate my impressionable 7yo with magical thinking, even if it might confer some benefit. I decided to call my therapist back and use someone in her practice, paying the out-of-network price. It's worth it.

The scary thing is, you don't necessarily know if your health care provider is infected with woo-think. Not all of them will be kind enough to advertise it on page 1. Naturally, I'll be chatting with this new therapist to suss things out.

But sadly, I think sometimes you have to put up with creduloids. Actually, that name is a bit unfair. Most people are largely rational, with odd pockets of irrational beliefs. Probably that first therapist could have helped my daughter with proven, reasonable methods. And I could have discussed that I didn't want EFT used, I suppose. But that's a hard conversation, isn't it? "I'd like to hire you for your expertise . . . except this one thing you believe is total garbage, so don't use it." Ironically, she's probably used to and totally unoffended by people saying, "Don't use EFT, because we're Christians and it's against our beliefs."

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