Alumni, Community and Student Engagement Initiatives

The Need for Further Research into Mental Illness

“Some therapeutic models have been found effective in the treatment of mental health issues and illness, and we cannot be certain about why they are effective. We as a field do not know why psycho pharmaceuticals work, and although we have theories about why they work, we have still not been able to truly decipher the mystery of mental illness. Most of our methods and interventions do help to ameliorate symptoms, and some are more helpful and change-producing than others. At times, the uncertainty surrounding visits to psychiatrists or a therapists can resemble a visit to witch doctor; a psychiatrist will tell you, “Take this medication and if the symptoms do not diminish come back and we will try another.” A therapist will try multiple therapeutic interventions, and will test multiple therapeutic hypotheses until an effective treatment is found.

I believe that only the client can indicate what is and what is not working. Only the client knows which interventions are helping to diminish the symptoms and which are not. We have much left to be discovered in terms of providing and facilitating relief for our clients. For this reason, it is critical that we continue researching the causes of mental ailments. We must try to understand how and why relationships go awry, which entities are not relating in a satisfactory way, which faulty relationships are causing the ailment and how can we correct the deficiency in such relationships. How can we aid these entities in achieving their full relational potential? We must adopt a sense of urgency and we must acknowledge that we have achieved a very limited understanding of mental ailments, including symptom management and “cures”. 

Anibal Torres PhD is an Assistant Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy at Fairfield University.

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