In this letter to the Editor recently published in the New York Times, Larry Sandberg professor, psychoanalyst, and co-author of Psychotherapy and Medication: The Challenge of Integration highlights the dilemma faced my many individuals seeking help for their emotional ails.
Sandberg highlights the dichotomy in which people either feel that taking medications and seeing a psychiatrist for a few minutes every couple of months will fix their psychological issue, or, that they will take the route of psychotherapy, investing months or years in self-exploration in an effort to avoid dreaded pharmaceuticals and their many undesirable and adverse side-effects.
In this country, our health system strongly values a medical model of wellness, and is not nearly as invested in the healing power of relationships, psychosocial rehabilitation, or alternative curative methods. There is a paradigm shift happening, but as with any big change, it is slow-going, and not the easiest transition to make for institutions, hospitals, and government agencies. This is not to say that one route is inherently superior than the other, as Eastern philosophy asserts “there are many ways up the mountain,” what works for one person, may not be the answer for another. However, as my own approach to psychotherapy and healing, in general, is holistic, I strongly agree that both medications (whether they be herbal or psycho-pharmaceutical) and talk therapy can be taken concurrently and can even be complimentary treatment methods.