There seems to be a lot of confusion between what a psychiatrist does and what a counselor does. People have heard, seen or read horror stories about mental wards where people are kept and medicated against their will. This can happen in psychiatry and there are still places where the patient is loaded with anti-psychotics. A lot of people tend to wait with seeking help until they have reached the edge of the cliff. When nothing else is left they begin to contemplate talking to their doctor, the doctor at his or her turn will than prescribe medication.
Electro-convulsive therapy is still used and although patients give their consent, they are often in state of mind that disables them from making a rational decision. In a confused state many people give consent to something they don’t fully comprehend. Patients give consent to treatment that is not of half explained to them.
The use of electricity to treat mental illness started out as an experiment in the 1930s.
ECT involves an electrical current being passed through the brain via electrodes joined to the scalp. The resulting seizure can have significant beneficial effects, according to consultant psychiatrists. However, many mental health campaigners say the forced use of ECT is a human rights abuse and is the source of long-lasting side-effects such as memory loss. A patient must consent to the treatment but if they decide against it that decision can be overridden if two psychiatrists believe it’s in the patient’s best interest.
Working in a nursing home in the early “noughties” there was an older lady who presented herself with severe anxiety. I spend many hours talking to her and above all keeping her company. She complained of feeling lonely but couldn’t join the other residents in the big living room, her anxiety wouldn’t let her. Her fear was so deeply rooted that she barely able to leave her room. If it wasn’t for the staff bringing her down to the dining room she would have stayed in her room 24/7. One day she revealed to me that she had received electric shocks in a mental hospital. Instead of making her feel better the treatment became her worst nightmare. Although it was decades ago she’d had the ETC it followed her everywhere in her daily life. Ever since the ETC she had become extremely frightened and even paranoid.In the year 2016 I asked myself whether this type of treatment is still used.in Ireland. According to an article in TheJournal.ie electroshock was still used in 2014 despite promises to make changes in the legislation for not consenting patients by the Minister of State for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People, Kathleen Lynch:
Long waiting lists
Six weeks on a waiting list is still six weeks too long. And this is when things go as promised it is not a guarantee. I have been on a waiting list for physio-therapy since September 2015. This week (the 23rd of February 2016) I received a letter that my appointment was scheduled for the 9th of March. This is a waiting time of five months. I suffered from sciatica as a result from a tilted pelvis. When the pain became unbearable I took measures in my own hands and booked two private sessions with a local physiotherapist. Further on I put it upon myself to see a chiropractor as the symptoms didn’t get better. I could have waited all this time to get the free treatment but I was in so much pain that it began to affect my mental health. Chronic pain can make a person depressed as well.
There are times you have to take measures in your own hands and stop waiting for help to knock on your door. When your health and sanity is at stake it is time to invest in yourself and forget about the finances. Even if you don’t have much money a few sessions with a therapist could make a big difference. In a few sessions you could already see your situation in a different perspective and it could give you the energy and stamina you need while you on a waiting list for free counseling.
In Ireland the waiting list are much longer than in Britain. For some mysterious reasons fully trained counselors and psychologist are not good enough to work with children, adolescents or adults. /
Emotional pain is worse than physical
Now you might say emotional pain is not the same as physical and I totally agree with you. Severe depression and or anxiety weighs heavier on a person’s shoulder than physical pain. When we have a broken arm other people can relate to this and they can see we have an injury. We are wearing a cast and people around us show empathy. However a mental illness is often a hidden ailment. While the level of suffering is much higher with a mental illness many people still choice not to seek help. The fear of social stigma is one of the reasons why a person might fail to visit a counselor or therapist. Somehow the fear of what others will think of them when they enter therapy. Mis-perceptions about being labelled as awkward, weak, insecure, unsociable and even mad can prevent a person from seeking treatment. Add on top of this the horror stories they have hear about mental hospitals and we have a recipe for disaster.
So what is than the difference between the two?
Here we have arrived at the question I stated as the title of this article: what is the difference between getting treatment in a mental hospital and getting counseling in a private practice? In a psychiatric hospital a person will be medicated and is kept on a ward. The person will have little or no say in the treatment he or she receives. They will be totally in the “care” of the staff of the hospital often their rights are non- existent and overruled.
On the other hand when a person makes an appointment with a private counselor he/she will be a client and have rights. He/she will be treated as a human being and all conversation will be confidential. The client is in control, (this is the way it should be). It is the client’s choice what to disclose to the counselor/psychologist. Later during a job interview the client is not obliged to disclose he/she or has received therapy. During counseling or psychotherapy (which is the same) you explore healthier ways of managing the issues that hunt you. This includes the feelings which are associated with them. You graduate as a matter of speech with an array of coping skills that will last you for the rest of your life. These are valuable life skills you can use in many real life situations.
Although it might seem an easy and quick fix to take anti-depressants or any other mental health drugs, it can have negative effects on a person. It could take up to two to eight weeks for a person to notice an improvement in their situation. Besides this there are always side effects. They can cause: hearth problems, Serotonin syndrome, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, depression, delusions, sexual dysfunction, involuntary muscle twitching and others.
Talking therapy is by far the least dangerous treatment a person with mental health issues can get. The thought that some is listening to him/her for the first time can already work positive. After only one session a person can already feel relieved and therefor have the strength and courage to improve their quality of life.
A therapist can help you explore healthy option of dealing with your past and current issues. They teach you coping skills that you can use in different areas of your life, even years after the therapy is finished. They have an ethical responsibility not to share your information with anyone else. If you dare to make the step you're on your way to be one day free from the ghosts that hunt you.