But I Don’t Need a Doctor!: Enlisting All Areas of Support

“Our first grader, Jude, is the best. He’s fun and funny, sweet and kind…” Sarah’s words trailed off. “He sounds like a great kiddo,” I said. “The thing is, he’s had challenges since birth. He struggled to eat, his sleep schedule is still off, and he aways seems behind on his milestones. But, we put together an amazing support team. We have an herbalist, dietician, acupuncturist and parenting coach. We just want him to be happy.” These parents have been working double-overtime to help Jude. But recently the school called and suggested Jude undergo testing. They’ve seen some indicators in his school work and social skills that imply there might be an underlying issue. “We don’t want him tested or labeled, so we pulled him out of school.” When I asked if they’d seen a doctor she explained, no, it’s not necessary.

Marcy had been coming to see me for months. Initially she came with symptoms of depression and, with the cold, dark winter months, her symptoms have increased. Most recently Marcy was struggling with suicidal thoughts. “Have you ever felt suicidal before?” I asked. “Once, when I was a teenager. But I didn’t do anything and, once I went away to college, I started feeling fine.” In her late twenties Marcy had been on anti-depressants for another bout of depression, but she didn’t like the side effects. “I just don’t want to take medication. I’ll take herbs or add in more exercise; I just don’t believe in those drugs.”

Now I am the first person to suggest working with a wide-range of practitioners and solutions, and I encourage clients to trust themselves and their own wisdom. However, I also think school testing, independent psychological testing, and psychiatric medical evaluations are useful, and sometimes critical components of a solid treatment plan. For play therapy to be helpful to Jude, we need more information that can only be gleaned from further testing. For Marcy’s safety and health, she needs to speak with a psychiatrist about medication to stop her suicidal thoughts and decrease her depression symptoms.

Sometimes people get frustrated with me and even stop counseling when I talk to them about testing or medication but I believe the more we know, the better choices we can make for everyone involved.