Conspiracy Theories & Political Radicalization: Clinical Considerations

Conspiracy Theories & Political Radicalization: Clinical Considerations

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  • What psychological factors drive the belief in conspiracy theories?
  • Why are some people susceptible?
  • What are our ethical obligations as therapists in responding to these situations, especially if these beliefs cause our clients distress?


As conspiracy thinking has risen to the forefront of public discourse during the COVID-19 pandemic, many therapists find it difficult to manage these topics in therapy. The internet is awash in conspiracy theories.  People sharing misinformation and disinformation find ways to spread what they understand as the truth. Numerous conspiracy theories about the virus and vaccine have spread widely and these beliefs have become so emotionally consuming that some people are talking about them in therapy.


Therapists and psychiatrists know that conspiracy beliefs aren’t a mental illness. At the same time, their clients and patients may obsessively focus on those ideas, neglecting work, sleep, or relationships. Conspiracy theories may prompt people to retreat from loved ones who don’t share their views, leading to disconnection and isolation. It is possible for conspiracy theory beliefs to prime clients “in such a way where they’re more susceptible to anxiety, and then because of the level of anxiety or paranoia it becomes debilitating” (Lipcomb, 2021).  By better understanding the process of indoctrination or radicalization, we as therapists can learn to better serve the needs of our clients.


For many of us, this is murky territory. If we push someone to defend their beliefs, it could ruin the delicate trust that therapists forge with their clients. If we say nothing, we risk that we disconnect with the clients or that we make them complicit or anxious. Therapists encountering conspiracy theories in their practice have to develop their own approach.


Watch this seminar and improve your practical knowledge and confidence of understanding of how conspiracy and political radicalization impacts individuals, their families, and engagement in therapy.


This course will cover:

  • the real-world persuasive tactics used to influence public thought
  • the step-by-step process of how institutions and individuals cultivate a cult-like following
  • the ethical dilemmas for clinicians, and
  • conversational strategies that clinicians can use to navigate these topics in session.


Add some spice to your current professional development sessions!  Learn new things and become confident in handling complex and tricky topics in your therapy rooms!

This training will provide participants clinical knowledge and tools to:

a). Describe the psychology of social radicalization.

b). Understand the influence of political and social identities in the therapeutic context.

c). Identify harmful communication practices that threaten clinical growth in psychotherapy practice.


Target Audience:

The target audience for this event includes psychologists, social workers, counselors, MFT’s, and other clinical mental health professionals.


Corey Petersen, LCMFT, is a Communication Specialist, and owner of Communication and Connection Therapy. She is currently finishing her PhD in Communication Studies which is her third college degree in the communication field, and fifth degree in total.
Before becoming a psychotherapist, Corey was interested in working with political campaign strategists, and even interned as a speech writer for a US senator where she earned her certification in speechwriting. Though her passions led her towards working in the mental health field, she has also been teaching courses covering political rhetoric and persuasion collegiately for the past 8 years. When Corey is not teaching, she is likely working on her dissertation or meeting with clients in her private practice.

This online workshop will give you instant access to 3 sessions of video content, accessible via streaming on our website, as well as downloads for supplemental materials. You can view the course content in your own time, there is no time limit on access.


The duration of this workshop is 3 learning hours.


Please click the green ‘Mark Complete’ button on each module as you progress. A certificate of completion will be generated upon finishing the course and completing a short assessment quiz. If the certificate is not showing, please confirm you have marked all sections as ‘Complete’. Please consult your professional organisation/association to confirm whether you are able to claim any CPD points/hours for this online workshop.