Deception in psychotherapy: Frequency, typology and relationship
Deception in therapy has been documented anecdotally through various narratives of therapists. The investigation of its occurrence within therapy has largely been overlooked. We explored the reported frequency of deception within psychotherapy, the types of deception used within therapy, the likelihood of people lying to a therapist compared to other groups of people, and client perceptions of the types of deception that therapists use. Ninety-one participants were provided with a series of deception examples, asked questions about the use of these types of deception within therapy, and asked generally about their use of deception in therapy. We found that a majority of the participants had been deceptive in therapy, and a majority were willing to be deceptive in future therapeutic contexts. Participants were more likely to use white lies than other forms of deception in therapy. Lastly, participants were less likely to lie to therapists compared to strangers and acquaintances. Implications for research and practice are discussed.