What To Believe?

First we learned that pharmaceutical companies skew the studies that purport to demonstrate how well their drugs work, and now we learn that researchers may have fudged to exagerate the apparent effectiveness of psychotherapy. What can we rely on in making decisions about treatment of mental disorders?

I can understand the challenge in producing reliable research. Experts disagree over diagnostic criteria. Much may depend on the fit between patient and psychotherapist. Junk science provides a theoretical basis for much psychotherapy. The the patient-psychotherapist relationship itself may contribute to a good outcome regardless of the method used. How do you really know what method a psychotherapist used in research when methods have so much in common, and how much consistency can we expect of two individuals talking to each other for an hour, especially when one tells the other what to do?

With the high stakes we need reliable information. We expect psychotherapy to change -- and even save -- lives. We must choose between psychotherapy and biological treatments like drugs and shock therapy with serious adverse effects. All the treatments can impact our insurance premiums.

Ultimately it seems we must try to find a professional whose judgement we trust and whose values align with ours, try what they recommend, and, if it fails, move on.

Trial and error wins, or YAYOGP (You are your own guinea pig.)


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