Colin McEnroe Show: How Meds Are Killing Talk Therapy

Can a one-size-fits-all prescription replace good psychiatry?

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Colin McEnroe Show: How Meds Are Killing Talk Therapy
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Colin McEnroe Show: How Meds Are Killing Talk Therapy

Today's show was occasioned by a controversial New York Times page one article about Dr. Donald Levin.

It said: "Like many of the nation’s 48,000 psychiatrists, Dr. Levin, in large part because of changes in how much insurance will pay, no longer provides talk therapy, the form of psychiatry popularized by Sigmund Freud that dominated the profession for decades. Instead, he prescribes medication, usually after a brief consultation with each patient."

Levin sees as many as 40 patients a day in 15 minute hits. He admits he barely knows most of them. 
The article remarked upon the loss of intimacy between doctor and patient. But almost simultaneously, New York Magazine published an essay about Stephen Metcalf, a writer who, in his life, had seen four different talk therapists, all of whom had dozed off during sessions with him.
Leave your comments below, e-mail or Tweet us @wnprcolin.
***This episode originally aired March 15, 2010***



psychotherapy and psychopharmacology

The two are synergistic, and need to be used in balanced measure.The difficulty that financing care presents has caused divergence in being able to provide appropriate care

E-mail from D.C.

I've been in therapy on and off since age 11. I began taking medication after college, at age 22, and it helped me immensely--I wished I had begun it earlier. Being in California in the 1990's, however, medication for young people was frowned upon. Since then, I've been back into talk therapy and I have a piece of advice for listeners: look for someone you like and get along with. If you don't feel a connection, you're probably wasting your time and money. The only therapists to help me in talk therapy have been Psychologists and Clinical Social Workers, never Psychiatrists! These former professionals are must better attuned to mood and therapeutic techniques. I also liked the short course of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy I tried. Excellent for learning helpful techniques to stopping depressive moods, rather that always looking for causes.

E-mail from S.B.

Thanks for having this conversation today. I recently have gone on Pristiq, an anti-depressent, in combination with talk/group therapy (I have PTSD from childhood sexual abuse). I would compare the drug to setting a broken bone so it is in a position to heal, and the therapy to a plaster cast and physical therapy. Could I be as "good" as I am right now just on medication? I believe no, but the same could be said about the therapy. A responsible balance of the two has helped me and many others. Again, I'm not just popping pills and then hugging dogs. ;-) Thanks, "Sean"