Today is National Psychotherapy Day – a day when therapists, clients, and therapy advocates unite to promote the profession, fight stigma, educate the public, and draw attention to the needs of community mental health centers.
I’m writing today from my heart for the profession I love in order to raise awareness about the benefits of psychotherapy in a time when the public is being bombarded with advertisements for powerful psychiatric drugs. In my 20 years as a therapist, I’ve seen many changes in the world of therapy and medicine – here are a few observations I’d like to share.
- Medications absolutely have their place, and can save lives and improve quality of life – many of my clients benefit from them.
- Medications assist with symptom relief, but do not address the underlying problems in how we cope with whatever life hands us.
- Medications have not proven to be effective in mild cases of situational depression, experiencing grief and loss, or mild anxiety.
- Medications don’t teach you to communicate more effectively with your spouse/partner, or help you help your kids when they are being bullied or struggling in school and your heart breaks for them and you don’t know what to do.
- If you aren’t sleeping well, there might be a legitimate reason behind the mild insomnia that doesn’t require medication.
- Therapists can assist clients with developing skill sets for the situations I’ve described above.
- Therapists spend more time with their clients than physicians do and are skilled in asking appropriate questions to assess personal and relationship strengths in addition to weaknesses.
- Therapists listen. Deeply.
- Therapists reflect – we all need feedback from people who are not personally invested in the drama and outcome.
- Therapists provide perspective when we are mired in our own ummm, stuff.
I’d love to hear about your own ideas & experiences – positive or negative – with therapy and therapists. Let’s stay in dialogue, because open dialogue heals.