Consultant psychiatrist Sami Timini wrote an interesting piece that questions whether there is a massive increase in mental health problems among young people requiring CAMHS involvement, or whether as a society we are increasingly unable to tolerate our children’s expressions of distress and are too quick to want to hand them over to ‘experts’, who then medicalise, diagnose and prescribe. While there are clearly unique pressures impacting children today with social media, he makes a really valuable point that if we popularise the idea that there is an epidemic of mental health issues among young people and they all need expert help, the young people, parents, teachers and others who care for them will start to think that any display of emotion that concerns them, feels painful or annoys them or causes problems to themselves or others is a sign of mental disorder and not part of what it is to have the full range of human emotions – distress or certain idiosyncrasies become far too quickly pathologised. He argues “We are becoming afraid of our children’s emotions and behaviours. We are not allowing space for the ordinariness of unhappiness, anger, pain and suffering”. It’s best to promote caregivers and parents to be with difficult emotions, feel empowered to offer ordinary, relational ways to help and not feel an expert needs to be involved for fear of incompetency. There are of course those that greatly need expert intervention, but far too many children who are presenting with normal dilemmas, emotions and difficulties in living are being pathologised and medicalised, which will inevitably significantly shape their future.
“The impediment to action advances action, what stands in the way becomes the way”
“Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging….Shame erodes the part of ourselves that believes we are capable of change. We cannot change and grow when we are in shame, and we can’t use shame to change ourselves.” (Brene Brown)
A short clip on the BBC describes how the terms ‘therapist’ and ‘counsellor’ are not protected and therefore you get many people offering therapy with sometimes as little as a few months or a year of training.
While you still need to thoroughly consider all therapists that you contact, it is important to find therapists through an accrediting body. These include the BPS and HCPC for counselling psychologists and clinical psychologists, and the UKCP and BACP for psychotherapists and counsellors, among others. It is also important to look for someone that is ‘accredited’, as individuals can be ‘registered’ with the BACP after only completing 150 supervised client hours. Accreditation requires the submission of case studies, a thorough demonstration of ethics and 450 supervised client hours which is still not a huge amount, but then you can look at what other experience they have gained, in what settings and with which client groups and you can even ask how many client hours they have done. I think it is important to find a therapist that has experienced their own personal therapy, so that they are acutely aware of their own worldview, values, biases, assumptions etc and work through their own unresolved issues and blindspots, so that these do not cloud the therapy and encounter and also continued supervision and CPD is a necessity.