I am always surprised when I hear people speak about their mental health issues and they say they would rather see a psychiatrist and take the prescribed medication. They don’t see the point in “just talking”. They assume that psychotherapy or counselling is about someone telling what you do.
I have always talked to these people (or, tried to) to try and explain psychotherapy – what it is, what it is not and why it should be explored as an option.
There is nothing wrong with taking psychiatric medication. It has been scientifically proven, however, that the best way to treat mental health issues or disorders like anxiety and depression is with a combination of medication and talk therapy.
In Malaysia, health insurance does not cover counselling or therapy sessions. Unless accessed at the often under-staffed psychiatric units in public hospitals, it can be expensive. Many people avoid psychotherapy for this reason. I can understand that. But, if someone prioritised their mental health, or saw enough value in investing in these sessions even twice a month, they can make allowances in their budgets for it. For example – anyone living in KL will know that a night out at your favourite club(s) or pub or restaurant can very quickly hit the RM200 mark. Just cutting back on two nights a month covers two sessions of therapy. Just reconsider some of the things you do in your life and make some minor and temporary changes. The results will be so worth all that time and effort!
Why does psychotherapy cost so much? Because the people who do this work are specially trained. Training itself is expensive. Many people have to get the training abroad as these courses are not always offered locally. Training takes time. And, effort. A lot of it. Plus, the training is continuous. So, what you are paying for is quality and trained care and services.
Coming back to the topic on hand, I stumbled upon this website that also espouses the value of psychotherapy. It provides 5 reasons for choosing psychotherapy. These are:
- You learn to work through your own problems.
- No one is taking a side, except to help you.
- Your secrets are safe.
- Long term value can’t be beat.
- Psychotherapy works!
Its pretty cool stuff. The site also has two videos by the American Psychological Association (APA) that very simply explains the value of psychotherapy. The videos may feature American statistics, but the reality in Malaysia is not too far away.
So, the next time you visit your local GP for stress, ask for a referral letter for a clinical psychologist. On your next visit with your psychiatrist, ask for clinical psychologists or counsellors that she can recommend. Search online for private practices; call them and ask them their rates and charges. The charges differ based on experience and qualification.