Many of my clients are referred to me from their family physician because their doctor recognizes the tremendous benefits of talk therapy (psychotherapy). Often these clients are being treated with medications for depression and anxiety. Some present with marital issues, parenting problems, sexual disorders, issues surrounding trauma, illness, grief or other mental disorders.
I recently read a well written letter by Larry S. Sandberg, to the editor of the New York Times back in May. Mr. Sandberg is a psychoanalyst and a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and the co-author of "Psychotherapy and Medication: The Challenge of Integration." In the letter, Mr. Sandberg makes some excellent points concerning talk therapy that I would like to share with my readers.
Mr.Sandberg writes, "We tend to divide treatment for mental illness into "psychological" approaches and "biological" ones; the former typically involve "talk therapy" and the latter medication. But this either-or-way of thinking obscures the fast that talk therapy affects the brain and is no less biological than pills." My observations with clients and supporting research agree with this point Mr. Sandberg makes.
I approach my clients care from a holistic and integrated model. I have studied mind body medicine, neuroplasticity, neurobiology and mindfulness. Daniel J. Siegel the author of "The Mindful Brain" as well as many other notable books explores changes in the brain through mindful practices. His work is fascinating and has been very helpful in my clinical work.
Mr. Sandberg further wrote in his letter to the editor, "Numerous finds over the last two decades demonstrate how talk therapy alters the brain. Disabling condition like clinical depression and anxiety can be treated effectively by understanding distorted patterns of thought, becoming aware of emotional conflicts that have not been conscious, or practicing new behaviors." He further states, "Talk therapy is a potent treatment for serious mental disorders and not simply for the "worried well," as it is sometimes characterized." In other words, as Daniel J. Siegel, indicated, being mindful will improve your mental health and with talk therapy we learn mindfulness.
It is clear from the research that mental health disorders can also be treated with medications, either alone or in combination with talk therapy. However, the effects of medications tend to go away once you stop taking the medication. Talk therapy benefits are enduring because of the significant changes that take place not only in the "mindful mind" but in the "brain," too.
If you are currently taking medication for depression or anxiety, or for any other emotional disorder, please discuss your options and the benefits of "talk therapy" with your physician. If you have any questions or would like a free consultation, please call me today.