New Academic Year
Posted by Dr. Vollmer on July 10, 2015
My old students have moved on and my new students have moved in, so to speak. “I saw a psychiatrist, but I did not talk to him,” a new patient says to me, and I repeat to my students, emphasizing that we must turn this tide around. The twenty-minute appointment, even if you did that in practice, does not allow time for you to learn to speak to patients, I say, reminding them, that pre-Prozac, what we offered patients, that no other physician offered, was time. I teach in a program in which I fight for relevance. “There is no evidence,” the student reminds me, that psychodynamic psychotherapy makes an impact. “That is true, but how do I understand the look in a patient’s eye when I say something meaningful to him?” I respond. Yes, that is not scientific, but it is compelling that both the patient’s words and my words create meaningful change in the patient’s mental health. Together, the patient and I, can create new connections, new wiring, in which the patient learns confidence and impulse control. Confidence, meaning another word for self-love, I continue. Sometimes I wonder if I am teaching, or making a case for psychoanalytic training, or both, perhaps. I challenge my students to challenge their other professors, maybe not directly, but in their minds. “Head-meds only go so far,” I say, again pleading for a curiosity about motivation and self-sabotage. How did this happen? I wonder to myself. Who invented this 20 minute “head-med” appointment? Who thought to tell patients, if they try to extend beyond 20 minutes, that they should talk to their therapist? We, psychiatrists, are now telling patients we do NOT want to listen? This tide must turn!!!!