Clinical Psychotherapy

I often hear people saying that they do not want to have a clinical experience with therapy.  I am told that people of think of a sterile room with a cold therapist who only says “how does that make you feel?”  Another thought is that therapy is a procedure.

The client sits there and is changed…much as the idea of how a car is dropped off at a mechanic.  Again, this is not true.

Then what is therapy?

First of all, the client is in charge.  It is important to focus on what the client feels will be helpful.  Yes, the therapist may step-in from time to time, if needed.  The client needs to be working harder than the therapist.  By this, I mean therapy sessions are actually meetings where ideas are formulated.  It is then up to the client to practice, further research, and implement these ideas.  The harder the client works outside my office, the better his/her results.

I believe it is important to focus on the positives in life.  Yes, the client came to talk about problems and we will certainly cover that.  However, if we only talk about problems and ignore the good in life, that will not be helpful.  When I work with my clients, there is less of a focus on pathology and more of a focus on self-improvement.

So, is it clinical if you do a therapy session with me?  I don’t think so.  It is more about how we conduct our meetings and what mindsets we use!

Mental Health First Aid

I recently became certified as a Mental Health First Aid instructor.

I am looking forward to helping the Lafayette Indiana Community increase awareness of mental health issues and train community members to help those in need.

What is Mental Health First Aid?  According to www.MentalHealthFirstAid.org “Mental Health First Aid is a groundbreaking public education program that helps the public identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Mental Health First Aid USA is managed, operated, and disseminated by three national authorities — the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Missouri Department of Mental Health.”

Shall I Begin Psychiatry or Counseling?

While often misidentified as the same, psychiatry and counseling are actually quite different. To begin, let me try and differentiate psychiatry from counseling.

Counseling is traditionally focused on the practice of “talk therapy,” or “psychotherapy.” That is, the process of working through problem/life issues by talking them through with a professional counselor. Such a professional will help clients to process their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, and will help clients to build strategies for improving their moods, lives and relationships.

Psychiatry (with some exceptions) is generally focused on helping individuals to overcome specific problem issues with medication.

Medication in Psychiatry Treatment

Psychiatric medications get their fair share of criticism. Critics, from licensed mental health professionals to Tom Cruise, have voiced their distrust and displeasure with psychiatric medications. Some claim that psychiatric meds are over prescribed, such as in the case of medicating to treat ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in children. Others claim that psychiatric medications are unhealthy, or even addictive. Still, others suggest that psychiatric medications are no more effective than a placebo!

Criticisms are so widespread and diverse that, in fact, it is logically impossible for them all to be true (a medication can’t be both highly-addictive and a placebo).

A Balanced Approach to Psychiatry

Many persons battling with life challenges, such as anxiety and depression, do not require medication. Even many psychiatrists will attest that it’s best practice for a person to try and work through such issues with counseling, and without psychiatric meds (and, to blur things a little, some psychiatrists will provide counseling or “talk therapy” in addition to psychiatric services).

However, medications are helpful in some situations. For instance, medications may be helpful in the case of a chronic problem, one in which counseling has been tried but hasn’t provided adequate relief: Chronic depression or unmanageable symptoms of ADHD, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), or serious mental illnesses are just a few issues that can greatly benefit from psychiatry.

Second, medications can be helpful during the acute onset of severe symptoms; very commonly depression or anxiety. For instance, medication can be helpful after the loss of a loved one, or immediately following a personal tragedy or trauma, or during instances when a client/patient is so distraught that he or she cannot participate in counseling, and/or function in his or her daily life. At times like these, psychiatric medications (such as anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds) can be of great help and relief to a client.

Getting Started

We hope this article was helpful to you, and helped you to learn a little more about psychiatry and counseling, and what differentiates the two. Buck Black LCSW wrote a good article titled “Medication Vs. Counseling,” which is available in this blog. Mr. Black also provides Online Counseling to clients across the USA. This article was written by staff writers at Thrive Boston Counseling, 872 Massachusetts Ave, Ste 2-2, Cambridge, MA 02139, a counseling practice that also offers psychiatry services. Learn more at: http://www.thriveboston.com/boston-psychiatry.html

Mental Health vs. Mental Illness

We hear so much about Mental Illness on a regular basis. That is one of those terms that is frequently thrown around. Actually, I don’t care for the term at all. Who wants to be told they have a Mental Illness? I doubt many do.

I come from the perspective of Mental Health. Instead of concentrating on illness or problems, I help my clients focus on the positives. Just think, if a therapist focuses on the symptoms of Mental Illness, most of the time and energy is spent discussing the problem, which is demotivating.

When the focus is on Mental Health, the time and energy is spent on being healthy. Everyone has good things about their Mental Health. I want to help my clients to build on what they already have.

If you look at the term Mental Illness, it implies that there is a biological basis, which is causing a mental problem. Although some people do have a biological basis for their problems, well over half of my clients do not have any biologically based problems. Anyone’s Mental Health can suffer due to problems with family, work, friends, and other stressors. Therefore, I stay away from the Mental Illness perspective as much as possible and focusing on helping the client improve Mental Health.