The Problems With Psychology Today

The Problems With Psychology Today

Before I start…

Before I begin I want to say that there will be numerous people that disagree with me and that’s totally ok. I love psychology, obviously, but there are numerous issues in the field today overall that I have felt are prevalent in psychology and that I think need discussing.

Empirical literature

The first thing that I feel is important to highlight is the emphasis and focus given only to empirical literature in psychology.

No, we need empirical lit, don’t get me wrong. We need research backing in everything we do. As a psychologist, you are also a scientist and must use empirically backed information. Furthermore, this isn’t an attempt by me to say that we should stop the process of empirical literature, not by any means.

I want to ensure I am being clear and that my point is not misconstrued here.

My question is though, do we focus on empirical literature too much in psychology, to the detriment of other mediums of communicating psychological information and findings?

I am a great believer in psychologists and those working in the mental health profession being more in the public awareness and in public domains. One of the main questions I ask here is, are psychologists not focusing enough on where the public is?

I’ve spoken about this a lot recently, and it was actually one of the things that led me to create GetPsyched in the first place.

We as psychologists, trainees and mental health practitioners, need to be in the mainstream where the people are.

The public doesn’t read empirical literature often. Yes, they feel the impact of it when psychologists utilise empirical principles, but they don’t absorb the content directly. We need psychologists to be on social media, on YouTube, on blogs, in the mainstream where people actually absorb content on a regular basis.

For example, name one publically recognisable psychologist. Name a recent study in psychology that grabbed the public attention. It’s difficult, nearly impossible, to see where psychology is branching from vital empirical literature and communicating it to the masses, where it needs to be absorbed and understood. We need psychologists to be in mediums where their work and what they do is recognised and appreciated.

Processes of getting published, and the value this has for professionals

This kind of leads me to my next point

The actual process of getting published is very challenging, again rightly so. This means that we get the most robust literature into the field of psychology, we need to be scrupulous and challenging of the literature we accept.

There is something to be said about the difficulty that students and new researchers have in getting published as a result though, but this isn’t necessarily something I would directly change.

What I do think is an issue is how psychology researchers are given value based on the number of publications they have to their name.

Now, you might not think this is such an issue, but I do.

Researchers based at universities are often ranked based on the number of publications they get.

This can at times have consequences where researchers break up pieces of research in order to publish multiple articles and not just one big one…again you might not think it’s a big deal.

However, the fact that this goes on speaks to the motives behind this valuable empirical literature.

It’s often not a case of getting their best work out there, sometimes it is of course, but other times its to boost the name and the credibility of the individual and that doesn’t sit well with me.

What’s more, is that the pull to publish more work can at times lead to shoddy results. Now, this is in part why it’s so important to have a critical eye in psychology, but I do not think we address this enough.

It’s not uncommon for researchers to manipulate data to their favour and in ways that give outputs that they want. It might be to get more funding, it might be to boost their position as a researcher, either way, it’s not ok.

I don’t want you leaving thinking I hate empirical literature, I in no way do. In truth, I believe in developing more empirical literature. The research backing I have as counselling psychology is based in empirically backed considerations. This is something I would never change. I believe in the scrupulous nature of publishing research also. However, the points I have discussed here are ones I feel need addressed.

Unequal appreciation of different branches

For me, this is a big one.

In the UK we have a disparity between different branches of psychology.

Let me make this clear from the beginning.

No one branch of psychology is more important or valuable than another!

If you are a doctor in applied psychology then you are equal to all other applied psychologists, clinical, educational, counselling, health, sports and exercise. We don’t fully appreciate that often in this country.

I’m going to try and take bias out of this as much as I can as I am a counselling psychologist in training. However, the way we look at clinical psychology and its hierarchical nature isn’t ok. Every now again on twitter ill voice this…it often doesn’t go down well.

People still see clinical as superior…it’s not.

In the UK we think it is, often because the training is fully funded, with a £26,000 a year salary attached.

Again, I’ve had some Twitter discussions about how this isn’t ok also.

However, the NHS and here in the UK have given clinical this hierarchical nature. I work with some people who are counselling psychologists and counselling psychologists in training that are not allowed to work with borderline personality disorders, it’s left to the clinical psychologists.

This isn’t right, it has no research backing, and it is against the egalitarian nature of all applied psychologies.

Counselling psychologists can work with a client diagnosed with BPD just as well as any other. One of the only ways this is going to change is with the funding situation.

Challenges with the direct route for undergrads

My next issue with psychology right now is the route and options for undergraduate psychology students. A very small percentage of undergraduates in psychology pursue a career in the field.

In large I think much of this has to do with not enough information or development of direct routes into careers in psychology.

If psychology is going to see developments in people coming through the ranks then I really think initiatives like apprenticeships, internship and opportunities for experience need to be provided by universities.

Non-accredited counsellors and therapists

This is an area that might not be directly attributed to psychology itself, but it is something psychology can stand up for and that will help it in its development I feel.

There are so many non-accredited ‘therapists’ and ‘counsellors’ out there. I have spoken to many and even worked with some in the past. The fact that an individual can legally call themselves counsellor or a therapist is discrediting to the therapeutic industry, and psychology as a whole.

Legally no one can call themselves a psychologist if they do not have a doctorate. However, literally, anyone can call themselves a therapist, counsellor or psychotherapist.

A lot of the time counselling psychologists actually call themselves therapists and this can blur the lines even further.

In part, this is a job for governing bodies here in the UK such as the BACP to develop guidelines of accreditation.

Challenges in developing clinical experience for students

When I did a bit of market research for this topic, the challenges for developing clinical experience for psychology student came out as a big concern.

Students seem more and more frustrated in psychology with the difficulties in gaining clinical experience

Now, I’ll be honest, I was very lucky and didn’t really have this issue.

However, I can empathise with the challenges and frustrations experienced by undergraduates. In part, I feel that the view that psychology is often seen as a route to multiple careers not a career in psychology is a major contributing factor.

In many ways, this connects to one of my previous points. Psychology must do better in informing undergraduate students about the opportunities that are available in psychology.

We must do more to encourage students to pursue careers in psychology!

How Blog Psychology Contributes To Discussions In Mental Health – Guest Blog Post by Dennis Relojo-Howell, Founder of Psychreg

How Blog Psychology Contributes To Discussions In Mental Health – Guest Blog Post by Dennis Relojo-Howell, Founder of Psychreg

Due to the popularity of blogs, there are now many people who are increasingly aware of mental health issues. And those who are struggling with them are now more open to talking about it.

Indeed, mental health blogs promote important conversations on mental health, all because of the explosion of the blogging culture.

It is estimated that there are more than 1.8 billion websites. These websites are typically dedicated to a particular topic or purpose, ranging from entertainment and social networking to providing news and, more importantly, as an avenue for critical discussions.


Blogs are essentially another form of websites. At its core, blogs are dynamic websites which are regularly updated and allow reader engagement. Psychreg for instance, allows its readers to engage in a range of topics in psychology, mental health and well-being – with the ultimate aim of addressing intertwined issues within the realms of the discipline.

https://youtu.be/J4AIpxzXUCs


It is recognised that blogging started in 1994, with Links.net considered to be the first ever blog. Blogging has come a long way – from being interactive, online forms of the traditional personal diary to becoming a repository of critical discussions.

What makes blogging even more remarkable is that it is democratic: Anyone can start their own. Indeed, when I decided to launch my own psychology blog, Psychreg, I found the process to be pretty straightforward.
Taking into account these features of blogging, it is arguably one of the most effective medium to raise awareness about mental health.


Blogs demonstrate that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood and listened to. This is the core reason why I developed Psychreg to become a platform for people afflicted with mental health issues to share their narratives. Through the use of blogs, the powerful lived-experience narratives are reaching far more people.


With the increasing popularity of blogs, it is only sensible that they should be adapted in order to change the way people think and act about mental health.


It is comforting to know that across the world, people use blogs as an effective medium to share their narratives and experiences, to increase awareness and understanding, and to offer comfort and support. And not only that, blogs in similar genres are now being given recognition similar to those of mainstream blogs.


Needless to say, blogging is not just simply writing a blog post (and getting to grips with WordPress); there is a psychology behind it. An emerging subfield in psychology that focuses on the application of psychological principles and research in order to optimise the benefits that readers can derive from consuming blogs is known as blog psychology.


A recently published article in the Psychreg Journal of Psychology explored the theoretical underpinnings of blog psychology such as readers’ perception, cognition, and humanistic components in regards to their experience of reading blogs.


Although blog psychology is still in its infancy, there is definitely a huge potential to it towards contributing to the discipline of mental health.

With the continued popularity of blogs, it is crucial that a specialised discipline be developed to encompass all forms of internet-mediated communication, specifically in blogs, such as the use, design, and its impact on mental health and well-being of its readers.

It is also important that mental health bloggers network with each other to share best practices, which was the aim of 1st Mental Health Bloggers Conference held in London last December 2018.


Critical discussions about psychology, mental health, and well-being play a vital role in helping people feel better about themselves.

Blogging provides researchers and practitioners an excellent opportunity to create these conversations. It allows people to feel more connected to the world outside their home through the internet.

This is the very reason the world needs dedicated mental health bloggers, who will talk about relevant health psychology, mental health and well-being issues.

They can help us think progressively and critically, and in essence, help us build a world where everyone takes mental health and well-being more seriously.

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