Dealing with the fall-out

In the wake of the subprime crisis and the stock market slide, counselling and psychotherapy services have been quick with offers of help for those dealing with the fall-out.

A generation or two ago, discussion of one’s personal problems was more commonly done in the public house, with a priest or parson, or with friends and family. This does not necessarily mean that it was ideal or even helpful. But is acquiring a professional ear for life’s troubles any better?

It would be quite normal to be upset by the loss of a much-loved job, or a lifetime’s savings. The question is whether professionally dispensed “therapy” would provide any greater comfort than one’s usual coping methods. Stressful events can act, in some people, as a trigger for anxiety or depression. But for those who are not ill, and who do not have a psychiatric disorder, indiscriminate use of therapy may actually do harm.

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Margaret McCartney’s Blog

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A forum on healthcare policy and professional issues, by Glasgow-based GP and FT Weekend columnist Margaret McCartney.