Dec. 21st, 2014

rivka: (her majesty)
The awkward thing about being a psychologist is that sooo many people feel like qualified experts based on their common sense, personal experience, or reading of pop psychology books. Double that when you're a child psychologist, because practically everyone feels qualified to give parenting advice. And homeschoolers, of course, have essentially constructed their lives around a belief that they can do as good a job as trained professionals.

So someone will post a dilemma online, and potentially dozens of people will chime in with recommendations, advice, and - yes - diagnoses, based on what they feel is sound lay experience. And I'm sitting there saying, "I don't have enough information to comment. Yes, I know that everyone else posting here has enough information to comment, but not me." Or even more explosively: "I know everyone else here is dispensing advice freely, but my advice is worth money."

Somebody messaged me on Facebook - a complete stranger, contacting my professional page - asking for advice. She included, no kidding, a .jpg of her kid's test scores. It isn't the first time that someone has done that.

I sent back a message:
Thanks for contacting me. Your situation certainly sounds frustrating, and I can see how you'd be at a loss for what to do next. But for ethical reasons, I really can't give advice outside of an established therapist-client relationship with proper boundaries. It's also hard for me to give advice that's truly helpful unless I have more background context than I can get through a Facebook message.

As you may or may not know, I'm located in Maryland, which is probably a little further than you'd like to travel for an appointment. However, your state is one of the places where an out-of-state psychologist is allowed to consult on a limited basis. I'd be happy to set up a consultation relationship, where you can send me all of the testing data you have and we can have a full conversation about your concerns over the phone. Then I could put the test data and our conversation together and give you constructive advice based on my professional expertise. That kind of service usually runs about $300 to $450, depending on how much background material there is for me to review. Let me know if you'd like to schedule something like that.


If she posted what she sent me on a message board, dozens of people would give her authoritative advice for free. It's part of the culture of parenting/homeschooling message boards. So even though, on the one hand, it's ridiculous to have to explain to someone that you don't do your job for free, on the other hand it feels transgressive to set those boundaries.

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rivka

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