Get Thee To A Shrink!




Cynics say that the first response to a personal crisis in Manhattan and Hollywood is, “Get thee to a shrink”.  Psychotherapy is both praised and denigrated.  It is seen by some as healing, by others as an exercise in futility, and still others as an excuse for lack of individual accountability.  Depending on the perceptions of different cultures, it might be considered appropriate by some, or shameful by others.


Psychotherapies (and medications) can be/are critically important in the diagnosis and treatment of serious mental disorders, like severe anxiety, depression, psychosis, bipolar disorder, and substance abuse.


But how about the problems of everyday living, the distress we feel when we are inundated by pressures, or when we get into repetitive difficult situations, or we feel overwhelmed?  People use different ways of coping with stress.  A mental health professional (psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, counselor, etc) might well be helpful, but there are many other supports.  Some people use friends or family as sounding boards for meaningful support and counsel.  Others confide in their rabbi/minister/priest/imam, etc, or their family physician, and some confide in their hairdresser or bartender.


Whether to see a therapist is usually a personal decision, but when troublesome symptoms (anxiety, anger, insomnia, sadness, confusion) persist, and become severe enough to affect our functioning, these are strong reasons to seek professional guidance.


Perhaps surprisingly, many even sophisticated families consult their astrologers, or other nontraditional seers when the going gets tough.  Others use a wide range of alternative therapies and swear by their effectiveness, like mindfulness, EMDR (eye movement reprogramming and reprocessing), biofeedback, naturopathy, hypnotherapy, Chakra-based healing, guided imagery, mind-body integration, and many others that are offered nowadays. 


But merely hanging up a shingle doesn’t confer expertise, and accepting “whatever works” as a dictum can actually be dangerous.  The public has to be protected from self-anointed amateurs, charlatans and even dangerous practitioners.  Stringent regulations of all the healing practices, including their education, training, licensure exams, ethics, confidentiality and monitoring/supervision are absolutely necessary.




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