Psychiatrists can be extremely beneficial and oftentimes, there is a stigma attached with them because people don’t want to be perceived as unstable, which causes some who could benefit it to forego it altogether. Therapy in itself can be useful, but it can also be completely useless if it takes years. Although there are some psychiatrists who are phenomenal, the majority of them are not helpful unless the patient knows what their underlying issue is. I recently knew of someone who received their 2nd DUI and was court-ordered to seek help. I praise the justice system for realizing this and trying to fix it, but the therapy did not help.
The therapist was trying to deal with the patient’s symptoms, but had no idea what the root cause was. A good therapist can try to tease it out, but if a patient themselves has no idea what the root cause is, it’s an uphill battle. Therapy is meant to help a person, but how can a therapist help if they don’t understand this concept? From talking to a mutual friend, I figured out the reason for the massive consumption of alcohol was because of unresolved feelings towards the patient’s mother’s death. However, this was never even touched upon in therapy because it was not brought up to the therapist. If they never get to the root of the problem, the symptoms will persist and the therapy is useless.
Currently, the majority of therapists have a passive strategy to try to help patients by letting them talk on their own terms. This can be helpful, but can also take years to finally help someone. Instead, I wish they would take a more aggressive approach that encompasses the root of the issue by acknowledging that the patient may not even know what their issue is. When they realize this, they will know that their job is to get them to the root the fastest way possible that can help them immediately instead of years. Understanding humans and their foibles is easy, but changing the system of how we help them is not.
When they are in a secure place, we must force them to face their issues. This can be done if they know they are in safe hands and not a danger to themselves. Instead of trying to happen upon the root, we can ask questions such as ‘what are you holding on to?’ and acknowledge that we see pain in their eyes because they may not even see it themselves. We can let them know we are there to help them through it, but they must be the ones to acknowledge the pain first. This would be the first step in trying to get to the root instead of years of trying to tease it out. The first question you can ask them is ‘are you happy?’ When we fail to take an aggressive approach, we must let the patient lead, which can take years, but if we lead, we will solve the issue much faster. That is what a psychiatrist should do.