In most states, there is a defined line between therapy and prescribing. A psychologist is one who can provide therapy and is required to have their LPC, license to practice counseling. A psychiatrist is one who can prescribe medication because they have their M.D. and have chosen to specialize in neuropsychology and neuropsychopharmacology. However, in some states there are psychologists who are allowed to prescribe medication.
Some psychological conditions are the result of bad experiences or bad habits that have formed in an individual. Thus, most of these conditions can be treated with a variety of behavioral and cognitive therapy techniques, but what happens when a patient comes in and has a psychological condition that is based off a chemical imbalance in the brain. This requires the use of psychopharmacology to regulate the chemical imbalance in order to change the abnormal behavior. Most counselors do not have the appropriate knowledge to know the entire effects of drugs on their patients.
According to Buelow, Hebert, and Buelow, many counselors do not have enough knowledge in the area of psychopharmacology to adequately provide medication for patients. Juxtaposed, many treatment models now incorporate a hybrid technique dealing with both therapy and the use of pharmaceuticals. The counselor should also be aware of the patient’s wishes when talking about drug therapy. It is recommended that the counselors become sensitive to the patient’s feelings regarding pharmacotherapy, the patient’s previous experience with the negative side effects of drugs, nonadherance of the patient to the set regiment and the patient’s use of drugs and alcohol .
Client education of the drugs used in practice is also important. The first priority is determining whether the illness requires the use of medication or not. Other factors to consider when prescribing the medication would be based on the nature of the illness, physiological factors and any other health factors. Specifically, you would want to go over the regiment required for taking the drug as well as the possible side effects. For example, if a therapist was seeing someone who had schizophrenia, they might want to prescribe Thorazine and Haldol. After recommending the drug to take, you would want to mention that the side effects of these drugs could include drowsiness, increased heart rate, blurred vision, etc. In addition, someone prescribing medication should also talk about the risks associated with this medication. In schizophrenia drugs, risks include the possible development of diabetes and tardive dyskinesia. After all of this has been covered as well as how to take the drug and what amount as well as informed consent from the client, then it is safe and ethical to begin treatment.
Many people in today’s society come looking for an easy fix: medication. Most people, however, only require cognitive behavioral therapy. A problem for medical practitioners then becomes how to decide who requires medication and who doesn’t. Those that require medication are people who have abnormal behavior are being derived from an error in biological processes which could range from hormonal imbalance to problems in neurotransmitter levels. In states where therapists are unable to prescribe medication, the relationship between therapist, physician and client becomes important. It is imperative to go over all the information with the patient ranging from what will be conducted during therapy sessions to the effects and risks associated with the prescription of the drug. The healthy relationship between the physician and the counselor is directly correlated to the transferrance and countertransferrance between themselves and the client.