Anne Guy - How Therapists Can Help With Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal

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Anne Guy is a member of the council for evidence-based psychiatry (CEP) and works with the secretariat for the All-party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence. She's the lead editor and author of “Guidance for psychological therapists: enabling conversations with clients taking or withdrawing from prescribed psychiatric drugs.” (an abridged version can be found here). This guide is endorsed by the British Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy, the UK Council for Psychotherapy, the National Counseling Society, and the British Psychological Society. Dr. Guy is also a practicing psychotherapist that does not rely on a model of diagnosis to help her clients.

Beginning as a claims manager for an insurance company, she got an up-close view of how the healthcare system worked and saw the biggest problems clearly. This “systems view” followed her into her work as a psychotherapist, where she attempts to navigate systemic failures that have resulted in the over-prescription of psychiatric drugs.

In this interview, we will discuss withdrawal from psychiatric medications, problems with psychiatry's over-reliance on the biomedical model, the difference between “addiction” and “dependence,” and counseling beyond diagnosis. She notes that while withdrawal can be difficult, not everyone will experience it as severely as described—for example, research shows that 50% of people coming off antidepressants are likely to experience some kind of withdrawal reactions, with half of those describing them as ‘severe.’ Most reactions last weeks or months with a small group of people experiencing them for years.

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