Before therapy: what happens when there is an issue, but its psychological root is not recognised?
Approximately 50% of requests to general practitioners have a psychological nature, that is not necessarily recognised by the patient who asks for help.
The issues are often relational, somatic, existential, and the GP resorts to medications, instead than referring to a psychologist. This happens because it is often problematic for the doctor to identify the problem – therefore the necessity for a referral – and who to refer eventually. Even in the case of a consultation with a psychologist, it’s often unlikely for the patient to accept this referral, due to the existing stigma that although reduced still exists.
The implication of this is that many people experiencing mental discomfort, never reach out for psychological help, nor they understand the psychological nature of their problem.
The issues are temporarily and superficially solved with medications, and the problem at the core of them is not dealt with.
This system promotes a displacement of emotional distress onto a physical, external cause, and defers its resolution to some pill one can take rather than a path to walk on.
It also reflects an existing tendency of delegating the problem to more immediate solutions (medications, distraction, avoidance, repression, belittlement, sublimation) until it becomes unmanageable.
This way, people whose somatic symptoms are arising, get a prescription and keep avoiding, willingly or not, the problem at the core.
Reflection: what needs to happen for a person to realise they need the help of a psychologist?