Or not, as the case may be. I confess I haven’t watched the programme which Professor Richard Bentall discusses in his recent blog post. However, a lot of the patient outcomes he discusses within his post are something which I experience every day. If we disregard the areas of his blog post which are directed as a response to Stephen Fry, what we are left with in my experience is an accurate description of the effects of many people’s mental illness, and the impact treatment can have. Not only this, but Professor Bentall also provides an accurate description of what recovery looks like for many of those affected.
For a lot of my client’s, or service users, they are struck by incredibly debilitating illnesses, from which many of them recover in a variety of ways, across a spectrum of outcomes. One person’s recovery can be very different from another, but that recovery is subjective and means something to the individual concerned. Not only do some people manage their illness, managing can mean surviving, just getting by, thriving, or living a completely new way of life. All of these individual will share biological similarities, and these similarities in most instances will mean that proceeding with diagnosis means taking the similarities into account, using the similarities as indicators of probabilities, but not being bound by certainty or expectation that these similarities mean uniform treatment will be uniformly successful across the entire cross-section of similar presentations. To do this discounts the individual experiences of the patients, and the effects the individual experiences have had on the cognitive processes as well as the biological development of those in question.
From a therapeutic point of view, all of this boils down to adopting a Rogerian approach and being ‘person-centered’. Acknowledging the person who is seeking treatment is unique, and that despite what may appear to be general similarities in biological and sociological development, every patient or client who we may have treated in the past has informed our practice, but only by striving to understand our new patient or client will we be able to help create the conditions in which the patient or client will fully benefit from therapy.