Div. 46 (Media) awarded Golden Psi trophies to the producers of the television series Law and Order and Once and Again, at APA's 2001 Annual Convention. The award, created in 1999, recognizes producers "who demonstrate excellence in the responsible portrayal of mental health professionals, by showing professional and ethical behavior, or by clearly labeling unprofessional behavior as such."
Law and Order received accolades for "School Daze," an episode that portrayed a school psychologist who breaks ethics codes about privilege by revealing the identity of a school shooter to detectives. It ends with a psychiatrist who offers a compassionate analysis of how the shooter was reacting to being bullied, insight into the family dynamics and a description of how an adolescent's brain differs from an adult's.
Another episode, "Endurance," addressed the issue of public susceptibility to "quasi-professionals" posing as accredited mental health experts. In that episode, an "expert" testifies that a mother suffered from acute caregiver's syndrome when she set a fire to burn evidence that proved she forgot to give her son medication for his multiple disabilities. The "expert" turns out to have a PhD in kinesiology, not psychology.
"We are all honored to receive this award," said the show's producer and creator, Dick Wolf. "Everyone associated with the show felt that the subtleties and complexities of these issues were very important."
Once and Again was recognized for episodes entitled "Food for Thought" and "Best of Enemies," both of which portray a teen-age anorexic girl and her divorced parents. The male psychologist working with the teen-ager also meets with her bickering parents. He uses compassion and humor to treat his patient's anorexia and helps her to cope with her parents. The psychologist sets clear boundaries with the family by explaining that his purpose is to help the teen-ager and not mediate between the parents.
The show's producers, Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, said of the award, "We can now point to some tangible result of all of the hours and thousands of dollars we've invested in the pursuit of therapeutic enlightenment."
The Golden Psi winners are chosen from a set of shows, movies and other media nominated by Div. 46's Media Watch Committee's 26 members. Members may also present a work that has portrayed mental health in an irresponsible manner, which is usually followed by written notification to the producers on the dangers of their misrepresentations.
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