“Why are you here?” asked the child psychologist.
“You told me to come back in two months,” I replied.
“Yes, but why are you here?” My confusion must have shown since he continued. “You’ve been coming for months and your son is doing wonderfully. He’s a great child. So why are you here if he’s doing better?”
“Well, how would you know that he’s doing better if you only ever saw him when he’s not doing well?” It seemed obvious to me and I really wasn’t catching on to what he was asking. It actually made me feel rather slow.
The doctor beamed at me. “How do I get others to understand that! A lot of parents stop coming after their child starts to improve. Then after a while they show back up and we never know what exactly changed in the midterm.”
Oh, well I could see his frustration. How can you make someone better if you never know what makes them worse?
“Well, it just makes sense to keep coming. I mean it’s like going to physicals. If you only go to a doctor when sick how will the doctor know what’s healthy for you? If you go to your physical once a year then your doctor knows exactly how sick you are compared to how healthy you normally are.”
“Wonderful! Now if only I could explain that to the rest of my patients.”
The conversation was a bit surreal to me at the time. My son had started to see this doctor at age 7. Now 9 my son is still in therapy; though with a different doctor since the one above retired. My son was suffering from ‘deployment depression’ at the time we started to take him to therapy. It’s when a child suffers depression while a parent is deployed and communication sparse. In my son’s case he was violent and moody and not sure how to express his feelings. He was constantly in trouble at school and even fairly frequently at home.
Months of therapy assisted him in dealing with his emotions. We also discovered through the course of therapy that my son has ADHD. It took them a year to convince me to place him medication. While such meds can work the side effects can be devastating and sometimes life threatening. I still closely monitor my child.
Sadly my son has the odds stacked against him. Besides having the neurological condition of ADHD he has dyslexia, audio dyslexia, disgraphia and a speech delay. Therapy and home schooling have helped a lot.
I think people mistrust therapists and that’s why they stop going too soon.
When dealing with therapy it’s more than just a doctors visit for some cold meds. It’s a detailed look into what’s wrong, why it’s wrong and how to fix it. Often it takes time and dedication to do so. In the two years my son’s gone to therapy we’ve gone once every month in the beginning to once every three months lately now that he’s doing much better.
Many therapists, however, are succumbing to the same pitfall doctors have been falling into for years: toss meds at the problem. This can be very dangerous. Always, always, be wary of a drug that affects the brain or nervous system.
For instance I once knew someone who was having small seizures. They placed her on a medication that messed with her short term memory. Frustrated with it she decided to stop taking the drug without consulting her doctor. The withdraws were not what you’d expect. She began plotting the death of her husband. Luckily her plans were discovered before she carried them out. Once the doctors had her in the psych ward they were able to find out why she snapped. But the situation could have ended in a homicide/suicide; all because of a seizure medicine!
Sadly it’s not the only such instance I’ve heard about. I’ve known people who nearly died due to the withdraws of missing one dose of an antidepressant. I’ve known people who went psychotic while on antidepressants; this individual was not psychotic before the med.
Not only do you have to be wary of meds but a lot of people seem to believe that therapists tell you to keep coming back so that they can keep making money. Combine the practice of medicating everything with a mistrust of therapists and we have people who aren’t getting the help they need.
So if you or a loved one needs therapy what do you do?
Know before hand what you want out of it. If it’s for a neurological condition like ADHD educate yourself on it. I’ve studied psychology and before my son wound up in therapy. I used the books for profiling my characters in the Verian Series. When the school he was going to tried to diagnose him with Autism I had no qualms with showing up with my copy of the DMS-IV and pointing out that they were full of crap. I did the same thing when they tried to change their tune and say Aspergers.
I don’t expect you to own dozens of books like I do but I do expect you to educate yourself. If you’re going for a mental health reason such as depression decide before you go what you want out of your sessions. Do you want to takes meds? If so which meds? Is your doctor monitoring you while taking them? If you don’t want to take them is your doctor willing to help you find alternative means to cope? If the answers aren’t what you want to hear you might need a new doctor.
A good therapist will work with you to help you achieve what you want. Don’t stop going just because you ‘got better’ it’s a long term commitment where relapses can and do occur. And never ever begin or end a med without talking it over with your doctor.