“I had to train myself not to get too interested in their problems, and not to get sidetracked trying to be a semi-therapist.”
DR. DONALD LEVIN (a psychiatrist whose practice no longer includes talk therapy)
The quote above, from an article in the NY Times yesterday, illustrates quite simply why I rarely refer to myself as a therapist anymore. Not because I am like Dr. Levin, not at all, but rather because I don't want to be associated with the same profession as him. Anyone who's been reading this blog for a while knows that I deplore the way drugging patients, including children, has taken over what was once supposed to be a healing profession.
Here's an excerpt from the Times piece:
"Like many of the nation’s 48,000 psychiatrists, Dr. Levin, in large part because of changes in how much insurance will pay (or not pay), no longer provides talk therapy, the form of psychiatry popularized by Sigmund Freud that dominated the profession for decades. Instead, he prescribes medication, usually after a brief consultation with each patient. Trained as a traditional psychiatrist at Michael Reese Hospital, a sprawling Chicago medical center that has since closed, Dr. Levin, 68, first established a private practice in 1972, when talk therapy was in its heyday. Then, like many psychiatrists, he treated 50 to 60 patients in once- or twice-weekly talk-therapy sessions of 45 minutes each. Now, like many of his peers, he treats 1,200 people in mostly 15-minute visits for prescription adjustments that are sometimes months apart. Then, he knew his patients’ inner lives better than he knew his wife’s; now, he often cannot remember their names. Then, his goal was to help his patients become happy and fulfilled; now, it is just to keep them functional."
I made my bones as a young social worker during the Carter Administration, a time when psychotherapy and helping individuals empower themselves through inner work was respected and supported by government. That all changed in 1980 when Ronald Reagan, as truly clueless a person who ever sat in the Oval Office, became president. Within literal moments, "The Gipper" dismantled funding for every aspect of psychotherapeutic treatment, even for psychotic patients who needed long term residential therapy. The results were a boon for pharmaceutical companies and the sudden appearance of thousands of homeless psychiatric patients living on the streets.
Those days, the early 1980's, are what's chronicled in my television series, "City Rock." During the Reagan years, the streets of New York became an apocalyptic landscape of homelessness, drug addiction, crime and despair, while simultaneously, Reagan's deregulation of Wall Street, banks and big business led to huge bubbles in the stock market and real estate markets, bubbles, like the champagne that flowed so readily with the plentiful cocaine, that only the wealthy and connected could partake in.
Cut to the end of the Decade of Greed, and "Frank Cello" (now pursuing New Age spiritualism as fervently as he had once pursued the Bella Blu Stars in the Gramercy Park Softball League) came to understand that all things (even the election of Ronald Reagan) occur for a reason. And that reason is our evolution. Cello (me in my early 30's) began pursuing not only his own self-actualization through "talking therapy," but as a guide for others, he began changing the way he practiced therapy. It had to include the soul, and the Universe at large, and the realization that one person at a time shifting their consciousness and energy field to a higher vibration (ala the "Hundredth Monkey" effect) was the way to contribute to the evolution of the human race.
So, in this new millennia, I let go of my old profession, just like I've continued to let go of old identities. And I let go of the Donald Levin's of the world by healing the part of me that created him.