Medication? Therapy? Both?

One of the most common questions that I receive regarding the treatment of children and adolescents is if/when to use psychotropic medication to treat emotional and behavior problems.  There is no simple answer to these questions as each individual case is unique.  Generally speaking, many psychological issues can be and have been treated successfully with psychotherapy alone.  For example, Clarke (2005) found that a therapeutic strategy called cognitive restructuring was more effective in the treatment of adolescent depressive symptoms that the use of a certain class of medication called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s).  Similar results have been found in treating anxiety disorders, trauma, Asperger’s Syndrome, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder.


There are some diagnoses, however, where both medication and psychotherapy is recommended and necessary.  For example, when Bipolar Disorder is appropriately diagnosed, the most successful treatments incorporate both the biochemical treatment options as well as the talk therapy to develop appropriate self-awareness and coping skills.  The same is true with treating the symptoms of severe AD/HD. 


In general, I am typically not a proponent of medication as the first treatment option (unless the diagnosis clearly calls for it).  In my practice, a thorough assessment is conducted, diagnostic considerations are made, and therapy commences.  If I feel that treatment is not going as planned or progress is not being seen, I will generally make a referral for medication evaluation to be conducted by a trusted colleague. 

Commenting, responding, or posting on this site is not intended as and should not be interpreted as psychological service, advice, treatment or personal counseling. The transmission of any comment, response, or other electronic communication does not create a professional relationship between Dr. Roth and you. The information on this website or in any e-mail communication is not a substitute for psychological services or treatment nor does it represent the professional views or opinions of Dr. Roth.   Dr. Roth is not responsible for the content of the postings by others as those postings represent the opinion of the person who made the posting.   If you are in need of psychological services, please contact me via my office phone at 609-217-0973 to schedule an appointment.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *