Have you ever had a new client come to a first session and announce—with a formality that seems right out of the DSM—exactly what his diagnosis is? Perhaps this client is also certain about what symptoms are the result of a “chemical imbalance” and thus can be immediately treated with medication, not therapy. He may be willing to talk about some things in therapy, like his job or his marriage—but in terms of his anxiety, that’s what the pills are for.
Not so, according to psychiatrist Steven Dubovsky, author of Psychotropic Drug Prescriber’s Survival Guide, who believes it’s wrong to think of meds exclusively in terms of handling brain chemistry and talk therapy as only managing nebulous emotions. In reality, talk therapy and medication often work best in conjunction, since medication can pave the way for therapy to be more fully effective.
In this brief video clip, Steven explains that clients are rarely cured by medication or therapy alone. “The two complement each other,” he says. “Medications are especially useful with issues like OCD and anxiety disorders. After reducing high levels of arousal, they make exposure, relaxation, and cognitive restructuring possible.”
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.
Steven Dubovsky, MD, is Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University at Buffalo, SUNY and Adjoint Professor of Psychiatry and Medicine at the University of Colorado.