Given the stigma still attached to psychiatric drugs, it’s no surprise that today’s kids, inundated with peer pressure to be “cool,” might have reservations about taking them. But therapist Ron Taffel, author of Getting Through to Difficult Kids and Parents, knows that for especially burdened young clients, medication is often necessary to get therapy moving. Therapists, he says, can’t always go it alone.

In this video clip with Networker Editor Rich Simon, Taffel shares the story of how he convinced a young female client to give medication a try, by using a bit of wordsmithing. “You’re complicated,” he told the girl, “And this is too much for both of us to handle alone. I’d like to get another perspective.” Feeling heard and validated, she decided to see a psychiatrist.

Taffel is quick to add that therapy and medication need to go hand in hand—it’s not a matter of choosing one over the other. Clients who use both medication and therapy have been shown to have more robust recovery rates. And by collaborating with psychiatrists, Taffel adds, we give our clients the best chance at recovery possible.

“We’re on the front lines,” he says, “and we see life going on in real time, so we know the small, subtle indications that tell us if medication is working.” Therapists, he adds, “need to take extra responsibility to make sure that prescribers see what we see and hear what we hear.”

Rich Simon

Richard Simon, PhD, founded Psychotherapy Networker and served as the editor for more than 40 years. He received every major magazine industry honor, including the National Magazine Award. Rich passed away November 2020, and we honor his memory and contributions to the field every day.

Ron Taffel

Ron Taffel, PhD, is Chair, Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy in NYC, the author of eight books and over 100 articles on therapy and family life.