There is a wide range of effective treatments for people experiencing psychological, emotional or behavioral problems. However, a large number of people never seek help or fail to follow through on these treatments. Why might someone avoid or delay seeking help? Why might someone be more open to some treatments than others? My research focuses specifically on two factors that might influence the help-seeking process (see figure above): misconceptions and stigma.
Over the past 20 years, I have investigated knowledge and misconceptions of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). I am particularly interested in how incorrect beliefs about a specific disorder or treatment might influence seeking help. For example, how does the belief that ADHD results from sugar intake influence a parent’s willingness to pursue counseling or consider medication?
In recent years, my classes and my research have focused on issues of stigma toward psychological disorders. I am particularly interested in how people’s perceptions of specific disorders (e.g., ADHD) and specific treatments (e.g., medication) might shape the help-seeking process. For example, how might the decision to pursue medication influence others’ perceptions of the parent? Do beliefs about specific disorders (e.g., ADHD is not real) shape a parent’s interactions with teachers?