Pills or Counselling?

Pills may seem to be the easy way out; every time there’s pain, a pill can easily get rid of it.  Simple, I buy the pill, I consume the pill and the pain is gone.  No crying, no blaming, no recalling of hurtful experiences and the best of all, no more coming back next week.

This is one reason why people would prefer pills over therapy; it spares them of the ordeal they would have to go through when going to counselling.  It sounds too good to be true because that is only one side of the story.  Pills help, yes, but a more accurate statement here is that pills only help in masking the symptoms.  Meaning, if there is pain, it will take away the pain or if you cannot sleep, it can make you sleep.  The trouble with this formula is that people fail to see that symptoms, whether they manifest as physical pain or behavioral idiosyncrasies, are only signs of underlying problems. They are not the real problem. It is like giving children eye drops for having dry and irritated eyes when the real problem is that they play computer games 12 hours a day.

Pills may bring instant relief but it only deals with the surface of one’s problem.

What people have to realize is that psychological symptoms come out as a result of deeper problems. If my insomnia (inability to sleep) is caused by my marital conflict, all pills can do is to put me to sleep. What will happen the next day is that I will wake up and experience the same anxieties with my wife.  Now, I can drown myself with anxiety control pills my whole life but that won’t help with the fact that I have real marital problems to face with.  The result – my marital conflicts would always fuel my anxieties and it will never end; because my anxieties are not being dealt with by the pills.

I usually challenge my students in class to tell me the difference between anxiety controlling drugs and alcohol. Both when taken bring relief from anxiety and both wear off in the morning and bring the person back to square one of their problems. Unless the root of the problem is dealt with, the symptoms or bodily alarm systems will keep on appearing.  This is where counselling and therapy come in.

Counselling may not necessarily bring instant relief, but what is happening is that a transformation is taking place within the person.  This transformation occurs through learning and this is what counselling and therapy is all about.  It deals with the root of the problem that stems from one’s past. This is why counselling takes time and this is why counselling is challenging if not threatening to most people.

So if my problem is with my relationships, counselling will help me understand myself and understand others more.  If my anger problem stems from my hatred towards one of my parents, then therapy will free me from that hatred.  Counselling is all about inner transformations, and this will always take time.

The decision in choosing between pills and therapy for psychological problems is clear cut: if you really want to outgrow your problems then talk it out and work on it with your counsellor. But if you want to continue hiding from the truth and just get instant relief, then by all means go for whichever pill is given to you by your psychiatrist.  Make sure you learn about the pills’ side effects and do make sure that you don’t neglect the real root that is causing the problem.

For questions about taking medical prescriptions versus counselling, please don’t hesitate to contact us.  We at Grace Counselling Centre will be more than happy to inform you.