When shrinks get burned out, patients get burned. There’s a dog eat dog business to this whole therapy thing. The science behind it all is still somewhat new.
There’s a hierarchy every single counselor has to answer to, a board with ethical guidelines to uphold, insurance companies to deal with to get money. The second you walk into a counselor’s office, they have to diagnose you with some form of mental illness based on the DSM V to collect money from your insurance.
It’s far quicker to prescribe patients a pill with unknown side effects to help them balance their mood or ground down from psychosis and push them out the door. Some people need meds, undoubtably - yes! Others can resume everyday activities once they change their lifestyle and learn to regulate their emotions.
However, anyone with trauma needs hours upon hours of special attention. They need someone to hear the whole of their life story before they feel normal again, before they can learn to understand and love the nuances of who they are as an individual. This is what counselors are really for. And this is the treatment so few people are able to receive.
Because the system sucks - for patients and for clinicians.
Counselors become traumatized by listening to all the dark stuff that happens in the world all the time. They become numb to self-protect. They are ground to dust by financial pressure to meet certain quotas. They are forced to be quickly judgmental of the highly sensitive people who walk into their office. It is easy and natural for patients to feel absolutely failed by the mental health system because of all these factors, though everyone involved is stuck in a hard place.
Most people in hard times crave connection, to feel socially validated and affirmed that there is nothing wrong with them. Sometimes we don’t want to be “fixed”. We just want someone to listen. Yet because our society is so highly individualistic, competitive, and scared of emotions, we have to pay for someone to hear - because no one else will.
It takes courage to reveal who you really are to someone else, and it's a form of rejection when a counselor spends 15 minutes with you and acts like the symptoms of your emotional pain are a permanent condition.
The DSM V has over 300 disorders listed inside. People refer to the DSM as the Bible of psychological health and behavioral problems. And the doctors who blindly adhere to it, without any critical analysis, seem to develop a God Complex.
Dr. Thomas Insel, the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, says the DSM should be viewed as "a dictionary, not a bible.” It created a language with definitions and criteria for behavior that seemed to disrupt the social order, so clinicians could describe maladies by the same word.
However, psychology is a subjective science. There is almost no way to diagnose a disorder through chemical or biological tests, as other medical professions demand. The American Psychological Association had homosexuality listed as a mental disorder until gay rights activists protested it. To this day, racism isn't considered mental illness because it so prevalent in our world. If you shop around with different doctors, you may find that your diagnosis will vary from clinician to clinician. Half of the doctors that work as Task Force on the DSM V have been found to have ties to Big Pharma.
There are reasons to be defensive. There is cause for suspicion. However, if you are in turmoil, there is also reason to have hope, to give therapy a try again, because it can work.
It’s not meant to be a quick fix. It's expensive. It's a huge time investment. There are a lot of factors for you to consider before you decide upon a treatment plan. Evidence shows people are most successful in therapy when they have a strong and positive relationship with their practitioner.
You need to have an alliance with your counselor. You need to feel empathy from them, to reach consensus on what your goals are. The counselor needs to be open to your feedback. They need to act like a human. The treatment needs to be tailored to you as an idiosyncratic individual.
When all these qualities are present, it is possible to let go of past pain and change yourself. It is worth it to try a million times, because you can't heal alone. You need a trained professional.
One of the benefits of the online nature of J2SYL is that it allows you to be completely anonymous. You don't have to deal with a diagnosis. We are nonjudgemental and available 24/7. We teach straight life skills - cognitive behavioral therapy - to help you do this thing called life. Because that's what we all want, to stay balanced and enjoy the ride.
Information with the power to help you do this doesn't need to stay locked in vault, only for the people who can afford it. Journal To Save Your Life is bridging financial gaps so the people who need counseling the most can receive it. Journal To Save Your Life is creative. It is genuine. We will not alienate you. It is safe to believe in therapy again. Try our program.
words by Alison Sher