Deception in Therapy: Forensic Therapists' Beliefs and Attitudes




Dickens, Chelsea
Curtis, Drew A.
Byars, Allyn
Contreras, Jose
Melton, Ellen

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People see deception every day by means of politics, the media, advertising, and daily interactions. One study suggests that people tell, on average, two lies a day (DePaulo & Colleagues, 1996) and “most people are often successful with their deceit” (Curtis, 2013, p.1).  Therapists in a forensic setting offer a unique perspective on attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs of deception because of the clientele they work with. Criminals operate in a culture that is generally much more deceptive than non-criminals (Vrij & Semin, 1996). The purpose of this study was to determine if forensic therapists hold accurate beliefs about indicators of deception as well as explore attitudes held toward deception. Results for this study showed forensic therapists hold inaccurate beliefs about deception as well as negative attitudes toward clients who lie. These inaccuracies could cause a therapist to misinterpret behaviors as an indication of deception when a statement may in fact be the truth. These inaccurate beliefs can be detrimental to the therapeutic process due to forensic therapists indicating they hold negative attitudes toward those who lie.



Deception, Lying, Forensic