The common question that I get from people who think they would benefit from therapeutic counseling is “How do therapists tell if you’re lying?” It’s a difficult question to answer because there are just too many possible scenarios where an innocent person might be accused of lying. Therapists are usually very skilled and intuitive and they can sometimes catch a liar by simply watching the behavior of the individual. I’ll give you an example. One of my patients, after she’d had a brain surgery, was asked if she could identify the area in which the operation had occurred.
She was unable to. The therapist asked her whether she remembered whether she used any eye drops before the operation. When she said she remembered nothing, the therapist then asked her if she remembered what she was wearing that day. Again, the therapist was incorrect.
In this particular example, we had a case where the patient, after having been examined by a neurosurgeon, was lying on a table under the surgical microscope. During the procedure, the neurosurgeon actually stuck a needle into the woman’s head. As the needle passed through the skull, there was a sudden, strong flash of light and the patient reported feeling an electric shock! So obviously, if she thought there had been an injection of some sort, she must have thought she saw or heard it happen. The only way to know for sure is with close questioning.
The second example is the same one mentioned above. The patient’s therapist happened to notice a spot where the scar appeared to be more raised or elevated. So one of the first questions that came to mind was: Did you have an injection? Unfortunately, in this particular situation, the therapist wasn’t able to determine for sure whether or not the patient had been administered a drug.
When a patient comes into the clinic with a bulimia symptom or even an alcohol addiction, the therapist cannot assume that the patient thinks that he or she is not telling the truth. Usually, these cases are difficult to prove because either the person didn’t say anything, or the statements are too vague and refer to unspecific details. The truth is that these are very difficult cases for a therapist to detect, especially if they don’t ask probing questions or delve deeper into the issue. It is hard enough for most of us to tell when someone is lying, let alone someone who is addicted to alcohol or drugs! For many professionals, giving patients these extra challenges presents them with a higher risk of giving false and incorrect advice and treatments, and so they need to be especially careful.
There is no one method that will work every time. Different therapies are needed for different situations, and so different therapists will give different advice. This is why you need to discuss your lying problem with a professional psychologist or counselor. They will be able to suggest the best methods and strategies to use in order to spot a lie and get the truth out of the client. However, keep in mind that they are not mental telemarketers trying to get your personal details.
Some therapists might think that asking the client “can therapists tell when you are lying?” is a bit clinical, but this is not the case at all. In fact, when a professional wants to know whether or not a client is being honest or not, it is not even about proving the client’s guilt. Rather, it’s more about ensuring that the client is providing accurate information for the therapist to analyze accurately. In other words, the therapist simply wants to know how truthful the client is.
In the end, if the client is providing accurate information, the therapist will forgive him or her and consider the client trustworthy. If the client is giving untruthful information, though, the therapist might consider calling it into question during the session in order to see whether the information is actually true or not. This type of framing is also commonly used by lawyers to grill their clients for evidences to support their arguments. In some situations, this framing technique can work quite well. However, when you want to know “can therapists tell when you are lying?,” it is better to leave the task up to the professionals.