Friday, July 11, 2003

psychotherapy: pros and cons

A friend just e-mailed me and said they were thinking about psychotherapy and wanted to know what I thought the pros and cons were. My response:

Cons: (1) A bad therapist can screw you up if you are highly suggestible. Convincing you that your parents are horrible people, etc.; (2) The expense, if you don't have insurance that covers it; (3) If it doesn't help, you have can no longer say, "Things are so bad, maybe I should try therapy."

Pros: (1) It may help. It does give you the opportunity to foreground introspection once in a while. Therapists can also provide a grounded point to assess the extent to which experienced problems are internal to oneself as opposed to being in a depressing situation; (2) Even if it doesn't help, it gives you a sense of being proactive about your internal tumult; (3) When you want to tell others about how bad things are going, you can tell them that they are so bad that you have been driven into therapy by them.

Virtually identical things can be said about medication, I suppose, except for the part about bad therapists convincing you that your parents are horrible people. Bad medications instead just make you crazy or infirm in one way or another. An acquaintance went manic after starting on Celexa and made plans to quit school, move to Cleveland to be with a girlfriend who herself didn't yet know she was his girlfriend, and change his name to "Animal" (true story).

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