A few days ago I read this deeply skeptical article about dolphin therapy.
I’ve lost track how many times my disabled daughter has been offered a swim with a dolphin. While disabled people struggle to get a hoist or a few hours’ home help, numerous charities will fly them to Florida to experience the miraculous feeling of frolicking in the water with a friend of Flipper. According to organisations that sell such snake oil, “dolphin therapy” alleviates a wide range of disabilities, from increasing the attention span of a child with attention deficit disorder to curing paralysis.
I must admit swimming with a dolphin sounds like fun, though conservationists point out that it can be less fun for the actual dolphin. Even so, the idea that it can cure your ADHD sounds a little dubious.
“Therapy” is quite a nebulous word that can mean anything and nothing. You can be a beauty therapist, an occupational therapist, a drama therapist…apparently even a dolphin therapist. Even something more formal-sounding like “psychotherapist” can mean anything from a highly skilled professional who’s completed a long, arduous postgraduate training down to some utter woo-peddler with a crystal pyramid. As I’ve previously pointed out the government is currently watering down plans to regulate psychotherapists in the same way as doctors, nurses and social workers. Instead they’re going for “assured voluntary regulation” which will at least give some form of quality kitemark, but will allow the quacks and charlatans to carry on practising.
But, you know what? If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. I’m fed up with banging the drum for proper therapy regulation. There’s a recession on and I need some ready cash. So, here’s my very own therapy, for which I’ll be promoting a book and a lecture tour. Some impressive-looking research papers will be doodled out, showing an improvement in psychological and social functioning based on an assessment scale that I scribbled on my lunch break.
I hereby announce the launch of At Least You’re Not Him Therapy.
Clients will be taken through a series of activities to enter into the psyche of Richard Littlejohn. They’ll be asked to read through his regular Daily Mail columns. There’ll be readings from his magnum opus To Hell in a Handcart. The client is then taken through a guided visualisation, where they are asked to imagine walking down a street convinced of being surrounded by communists, “pooves”, liberals and immigrants – all of them intent on destroying everything that is decent and wholesome. Finally, they’ll be brought back to their own world with a nice soothing mug of lorazepam, and gently reassured that, whatever their current difficulties and failings, they are at least Not Richard Littlejohn.
“Wow, that put it all into perspective for me! Now that I’ve realised I don’t live in a mindset based purely on malice and fear of the other, I feel so much better about having been done for fiddling my expenses!”
– Some Celebrity You Haven’t Cared A Monkeys About Since 1997
A sequel to the book will follow at a later date. Possibly when sales of the first book are dwindling. For clients with deep-rooted, intractable problems, there will be supplementary modules in Not Being Robert Kilroy-Silk, Not Being Nadine Dorries MP and Not Being George Galloway.