Recently, we were asked by a publication about our views on the use of restraint and the concept of acceptance. This is how we responded:
Having worked in lock-down facilities where the use of “putting hands on” patients was acceptable, I can tell you that sometimes it is necessary for the safety of the individuals and those around them to intervene with different methods. Those may involve restraining them, holding them in a safe facility for a period of time, and occasionally using medication. But such things are more about immediate risk management and deescalation. They are not meant to treat a condition.
So, onto the subject of treating the individual, it is very important to accept people for who they are and meet them at the place they are at in their lives. Once immediate safety concerns are addressed, the therapist then needs to work with them to help them find their way. Genuinely accepting their idiosyncrasies as a therapist gives them the strength for them to accept themselves. This requires a strong maturity and openness expressed by the provider.
There are many mental conditions and many more treatment methods. Some work in some scenarios and some don’t. An experienced psychotherapist needs to utilize different tools and also know when it is time to refer someone out to a specialist. We primarily work with addictions and we find Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) to be very effective. The consistency of the treatment schedule, the intense emphasis on working through issues, and the power of the group, all come together to create a certain momentum towards wellness that isn’t easily created in individual therapy. And yes, there are situations where other methods, including inpatient rehabilitation, staying at a sober living facility, taking medication, and using other new methods may be necessary. The goal of the therapist is to help people help themselves. Giving them an arsenal of tools is key.
Author: Seda Gragossian, Ph.D.
Talk Therapy Psychology Center