The short answer is that although I am incredibly proud to be a licensed marriage and family therapist – (and I am often in awe of the healing gifts possessed by many of my most talented clinician friends and colleagues) – I am, at the same time, often disappointed, embarrassed, and sometimes, even horrified by the current focus and direction of the helping professions. Our profession has been co-opted by big pharmaceuticals and managed care, limiting access to talk therapy and reducing our clients from thinking, feeling individuals to a collection of disorders.
I am reluctant to be associated with psychotherapy that relies heavily on the medical model of treatment and pharmaceutical interventions as a first line defense in treating and addressing moderate mental health concerns – often pathologizing normal human reactions to stress, change, trauma and grief, and creating larger problems for clients than were ever presented for treatment.
I am concerned that the helping professions – charged with the task of tending to the mental health and well-being of our society – have unintentionally added to the personal suffering experienced by more people than ever before – not despite of perceived improvements in mental health care due to higher rates of diagnoses and identified disorders but because of our higher rates of diagnoses and burdening labels attached to clients.
And – I am saddened that we, as professionals and concerned citizens have been so vocal about the mental health crisis in our culture, focusing on the individual and/or family as being the source of disease or illness – instead of recognizing that we are in the midst of a Societal Health Crisis – which is really the source of much of the discomfort, disorder and dysfunction that we are experiencing. Our increased mental health struggles are symptomatic of a culture that is not human friendly. Maybe we aren’t sick and broken – maybe it’s our lifestyle that needs to change.
We need to examine the aspects of our society that generate feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, boredom, fear, alienation, anxiety and depression in our citizens, and accept the reality that many of our mental health issues are actually normal, healthy emotional reactions to a toxic culture which no longer supports human life.