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VIDEO: How to Think Scientifically about Medications

Why Having a Hypothesis Works for the Non-Medical Therapist

Steven Dubovsky

Despite the increasing popularity of psychiatric meds as the go-to remedy for everything from seasonal depression to social anxiety, drugs are often not the best treatment alternative. That’s why, according to psychiatrist Steven Dubovsky, author of Psychotropic Drug Prescriber’s Survival Guide, a thorough, systematic approach to assessment is so important—and it starts with therapists.

Dubovsky believes that the decision to begin a drug trial should follow a process of scientific hypothesis testing. As he explains in this brief video clip with Networker Editor Rich Simon, he implements a certain algorithm to see why something isn’t working. 


Steven Dubovksy, MD, is Professor and Chair of Psychiatry at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, as well as Adjoint Professor of Psychiatry and Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

As Dubovsky explains, therapists should have a hypothesis about what might be causing a client’s suffering and investigate it until it’s either confirmed or disproved. If numerous hypotheses and all treatment options have been exhausted, then a therapist might consider psychiatric alternatives.

“Is the diagnosis right? Is this the right treatment? Have I missed something? Have I involved the family?," Dubovsky says. "We should never say, 'Well, we just need to do more of the same.'" This is true for both prescribers and therapists.


Did you enjoy this video clip? You might also enjoy Frank Anderson's article, "Beyond Chemistry," in which he explains the importance of asking clients about their relationship with medication before they take it, which he argues greatly assesses its potential efficacy. Or check out our issue, "Open Wide!: Do We Know What Big Pharma is Giving Us?" for more material on psychopharmacology.

Topic: Psychopharmacology | Anxiety/Depression

Tags: depression | drugs | family | psychiatrist | seasonal depression | social anxiety | therapist | therapists | antidepressant | antidepressants | clinical psychopharmacology | medication | prescription medication | psychopharmacological | Rich Simon | SSRI | ssris

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