Counseling vs. Psychiatry

Hello good folks, today let’s talk about counseling versus psychiatry just so everybody is clear about who does what. Psychiatrists are full-on medical doctors, and they typically prescribe medications to their patients to help them feel better. Counselors, on the other hand, talk to their clients to help them feel better (and just for the record, a psychologist is basically a counselor with a PhD in psychology rather than a masters degree). Now, I’m not anti-medication at all, I’m really not (and I know I often don’t come across that way). It’s just that they’re not being used properly much of the time. For most people, it is simply not the first line of defense when there’s depression, anxiety, OCD, or something like that. For major stuff like scizophrenia, it is absolutely something to try immediately! Let’s be smart. But I see totally normal people that have been put on pills when all they needed to do was talk to someone. They needed to learn about how the mind works and how the body is always faithfully responding to what’s going on in the mind. So if the mind is freaking out, the body will freak out; it’s the law. And we have a perfectly calm source of thinking built-in (inner wisdom/common sense). Use that more of the time, and your body will feel better. Done.

When people learn this, the symptoms usually take care of themselves. So I help them get off the pills if that’s what they want to do, and I’ve noticed that most of them definitely do. I just can’t believe, though, that these people go to see a doctor they trust and are put on pills without the doctor saying to talk to someone first! That is very, very unintelligent and ignorant. I know, strong words. But I see these people, and they really are fed up. Because talking and educating is all about finding the cause of the problem. Pills are all about masking the symptoms. Not a long-term solution. And again, I’m not talking about major mental illness. So these people that don’t have any major mental illness are often given pills as the answer, as if it were the long-term solution. And for these folks that are coming into my office, that is not even close to the case. Many of them have an awful time getting off these pills, too, with all the various side effects. Some of them have gained a ton of weight, which they don’t like. Or they feel drowsy. Or they feel like a zombie. Or they’re super edgy, and then they need more pills to sleep. Yuck. We can do better. We are ready to do better. It is time to do better. Now.

Psychiatrists used to talk to people, and I know that some still do. But for the most part, their job description has morphed into straight up medication management. Again, with people that are not seriously mentally ill, this amounts to treating the symptoms and not the cause. Let’s be smarter and go for the cause, people! Also I don’t want to condemn the whole field, because many, many psychiatrists refer their patients to counselors to work together. But many do not, and that is a tragedy. Again, big words. This stuff really pisses me off, though! Because we’re messing with people’s bodies and minds. We are in the dark ages in many ways, totally unadvanced, and people in the future will look back in disbelief about our lack of understanding of how to treat certain things. They will literally laugh at us. These pills are just so clunky, and mixing different ones together can create another set of problems. The patients think they’re getting fixed, when that’s not the case at all. And they finally come see someone like me that can better explain that they’re not broken and they’re probably not even whatever label they’ve been given, either. For example, the clients I see that have been given labels like general anxiety disorder, panic disorder, OCD, agoraphobia, etc. are given a new label by me: you don’t understand your thinking, you don’t understand how the body-mind works. Probably because nobody has told you. So it’s not even your fault! In a more advanced society, this stuff would be taught to children in schools, but hey, we’re not there yet. Well, let’s get there!

I have one client that was labeled with anxiety and depression when she was a late teenager. She interpreted that as “broken,” as if there were something inherently wrong with her. She was put on meds as the answer, and nobody told her how to get off of them, or if she ever could. Well, it’s been over a decade now, and she’s in her late 20’s. And she’s been tired of this for a while. Thankfully she found me, and she has absolutely kicked ass learning about her thinking. Also note that she saw another therapist first that did counseling the old way, not really teaching anything, and it was nice to visit and chat but it didn’t really help. With me, she’s basically learned two simple things: that she’s feeling her thinking (i.e. feelings are an inside job), and that she has a good source of thinking built in. Not broken, not even close! Now she’s off most of the meds. There’s one left, and she’s in no rush. She has learned how to relax into waves of feelings that had been suppressed by the pills for so long. And they pass and leave her system entirely! It’s pretty amazing. Isn’t this a better way of doing things? The side effects of these pills can be terrible, as I said, and the body lets us know this very clearly when we stop taking them. You have to be careful to taper off of most them quite slowly or else it can be rough. Do you have a terrible experience of the same magnitude when you stop taking a vitamin? Nope. You might feel different or you might feel off, but you don’t think you’re losing your mind. Big difference. Folks, we can do better than this.

So that’s the deal with psychiatry versus counseling or therapy. Or as I call it, fast, amazing growth. A much better name… For most of the people out there, talking to someone to get cool with life and to learn the rules of the game is the best first step. These pills can be pretty nasty. But I’m all for it if they work, I really am. I’m not in charge of what someone else wants to do. I do want them to know their options, though, instead of being presented with only one option that might not be the best. Can you see how this is a major philosophical difference? And to add to that philosophy, we should always want people to be on the minimum number of different meds and the lowest dosages of each, right? That seems pretty basic, doesn’t it? Like, kindergarten-level basic? Some doctors don’t seem to get this, though, and that can be really frustrating for me. But their patients are starting to figure it out, and they’re getting tired of it. And they’re coming to see people like me. So here’s to all the amazing doctors out there! And to the others, it’s time to get with the program because you aren’t helping. And I really don’t want to be bashing doctors! Because honestly, it’s more the state of their training. Doctors stopped being healers long ago, and they’re so specialized now that they don’t see the body as a whole as much as they should. And since what they’re doing is more and more often not working, people are looking for more effective options. And psychiatrists are one type of doctor. The training will improve eventually, because people are going to go with what works. And of course they talk to each other. Supply and demand is still at play, and people want results. It just seems to take soooo loooong. It’s speeding up, though.

Anyway, that’s my take on things! So if you or anyone you know is interested in reducing your psych meds, I’d love to give it a shot. Long-term view, super relaxed, no rush. None. I can’t make any promises, and there’s NEVER any pressure from me! I know it doesn’t always sound that way 🙂 But there’s really not, true story. That’s not my job. But it’s so cool when a person learns that they can not only handle life without the meds (or with less of them) but actually thrive, and that this ability is built-in. And they feel much better, in a more natural way. And they can’t even believe there was a time when they couldn’t! Yep, that’s pretty rewarding for me to see. So as always, all the best to you, and let me know if I can help.

P.S. This is HUGE… When you start to live from your wisdom more and you don’t need the meds as much, your body will let you know. The side effects might increase, or you might just feel over-medicated. This is the body saying, “Hey, I got this. You can reduce to the next lowest dose and see how that works.” I don’t think doctors are taught this, though, because they’ll often interpret these new symptoms as another problem that needs another pill to fix. Ouch, wrong answer! It really is an ingenious system, isn’t it, how the body communicates to us? So cool. So I thought I’d share that. Okay, peace out.