Helping Clients Overcome Resistance to Psychotropic Medication: Strategy # 1

overwhelmedWhy are some clients so resistant to the use of psychotropic medication? After all, it is a treatment strategy that has garnered rather widespread acceptance as an option for treating a vast array of mental health maladies isn’t it? Over my next four blog entries, I’ll address four common reasons why clients refuse or even downright resist medication, together with strategies you can utilize to assist them to better comprehend why medication just might be a viable alternative for their condition.

1. The Shame Factor.

Shame is often experienced as the voice in our clients’ head that judges what they do as wrong, inferior or somehow worthless. Clearly these shaming inner voices can do considerable damage to clients’ self esteem. For some clients, this critical judge is continuously providing a negative evaluation of what they are doing, moment-by-moment. If medication is mentioned as a treatment option, negative self-evaluation can kick into overdrive resulting in faulty, illogical conclusions. Two common conclusions that clients reach are: (a) they have failed themselves because their own attempts to remedy their condition haven’t worked, and (b) they must therefore be “really sick.”

How you can help: Work first with the client on the negative self-talk. Emphasize that resolution of their presenting problem is a journey that may include several different directional paths, and that medication is merely one of them. Explain that medications are not necessarily essential and that they are not demeaning or even redemptive. Medications are merely an option to possibly help kick-start symptom improvement, and that they can be discontinued – preferably after consultation with their therapist and the prescriber – if the client so wishes.

Joseph Wegmann, R.Ph., LCSW is a licensed clinical pharmacist and a clinical social worker with more than thirty years of experience in the field of psychopharmacology. His diverse professional background in psychopharmacology and counseling affords him a unique perspective on medication management issues. In addition to consulting with numerous psychiatric facilities, he has presented psychopharmacology seminars to thousands of clinicians in 46 states.

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