When Your Client is a QAnon Supporter: Cognitive Biases and the Clinician's


NASWME Chapter 0 29

Charles Safford, LCSW

3 Clinical Category A CEUs are pending approval from NASW NH

This 3-hour course will focus on understanding the emotional and cognitive causes of adherence to conspiracy theories, such as QAnon, in order to prepare the clinician to intercede and apply correctives when the belief system of the client is maladaptive in important areas of the client’s life. Applying important principles and approaches of Motivational Interviewing, this program will address some intervention approaches most likely to be effective in inviting the client to reshape his/her belief system in more adaptive ways. This program will also necessarily address the clinician’s professional obligation to intercede in a respectful and appropriately bounded way in accordance with the NASW Code of Ethics principles related to autonomy and respect for the client. To assist in the integration of material, some clinical scenarios will be examined and discussed.

Course objectives:

1. Apply knowledge of conspiracy theory research, including emotional components, cognitive bias, including sunk cost fallacy, and other evidence based understandings, in order to generate effective interventions for client adherence to QAnon and other conspiracy theories.

2. Utilize principles and approaches of the Socratic Method and Motivational Interviewing to assist clients in examining conspiracy theory adherence in a clinically effective and ethically respectful way.

3. Address the professional and legal boundaries for the self necessary to respond effectively to the client’s QAnon adherence without reactivity or countertransference impeding the integrity of the professional relationship.


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