This was one of TAP’s best attended talks - so many came along that extra chairs had to be put out.
Dr. Freeth is a psychiatrist and a counsellor, so she is able to look at the issues from both points of view. She has published a book and contributes to Therapy Today, the journal of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.
In her talk she posed some broad questions. What is the nature of mental distress? How does it arise and what is the most efficient response to it?
There are two approaches. One sees mental illness as arising from physical causes such as a chemical imbalance in the brain. The other view is as a response to life events and that medication can relieve symptoms and alter the emotional experience of the client. Neither can be conclusively proven and there is some overlap. It is not a precise science, although probably most psychiatrists are more in the first school. But things are changing.
Some clients/patients feel that having both medication and therapy is the best of both worlds, whereas others may wish to avoid any drugs. Some will accept a prescription and stop taking them. A few will prefer just the medication so it is important for psychiatrists and doctors to talk to the client/patient about the medication: what it is hoped to achieve and possible side effects.
Dr. Freeth presented two cases studies which explored the issues.
Coming off a medication is as important as the original prescription and she emphasised that just stopping can, sometimes, lead to crisis and needs to managed. It emphasises the importance of having a relationship in which the patient can discuss their situation with the psychiatrist and GP. She also went through the main categories of medication and left some hand outs with links to further research. Her handouts are available to download HERE, HERE and HERE
TAP attracts both students and experienced practitioners (as well as those who have an interest in the subject) and there was a good discussion followed by tea/coffee and biscuits.
The vote of thanks also gave notice of the forthcoming conference on body psychotherapy given by Nick Totton who has a national reputation for his work in this area. Some of the committee have seen him in conference and decided he had to speak to us. Details on the website ( www.taplimited.org.uk )