The following is excerpted from the Deseret News. To read the full article, CLICK HERE.
Of all the shortages caused by the pandemic, the therapist shortage is among the most troubling. The number of people seeking mental health services so exceeds available appointments that people across America are being placed on waitlists that are 10 deep.
It’s one thing to not be able to find toilet paper or hand sanitizer; it’s quite another to not be able to get help if you’re having suicidal thoughts.
As such, there’s been a lot of talk lately about how to get more people into therapy. The barriers to care include not only the effort it takes to get an appointment — some people are calling 30 to 40 offices before finding someone who can take them, The Seattle Times reported — but also cumbersome insurance requirements that have resulted in an increasing number of therapists who will only take cash for a visit that can cost $100 or more.
The problem is usually couched as a problem of too few providers. And no doubt there are sound proposals to expand services in order to reach those in acute need. But other experts have suggested that it’s equally important to have resilient people and caring communities that help reduce the need for therapy in the first place.
In their 2005 book “One Nation Under Therapy,” Christina Hoff Sommers and Dr. Sally Satel decried a fragile “helping culture,” one that is less and less about building a self-reliant society and more about relying on credentialed strangers to lead us through our personal adversities. While acknowledging that people in crisis absolutely need professional help, Sommers and Satel argued that too often therapists are treating occasional anxiety and sadness, which they say are simply part of the human condition. They warned that excessive introspection in some of these cases could actually make people feel worse.
It’s a tricky balance, of course. On the one hand, it’s vital to reduce the stigma that often exists around seeking help when it’s needed the most. Yet sometimes vital mental health services are difficult to come by when therapists are occupied treating low-risk individuals, some of whom stay in therapy for decades.
To read the full article, CLICK HERE.