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Not Simple Minds

 21st Jun 2019   published by: Jacqui

I had an interesting reminder today of how much our search for simple solutions to complex problems can sometimes blind us to opportunities to make a real difference in our lives.

Mindfulness or Medication

I was reading the news online, and what caught my eye was the media coverage of a Johns Hopkins study just released which analysed a range of different investigations into the therapeutic benefits of mindfulness meditation on a range of mental health conditions. The results showed, consistent with my own experiences as well as those of a large number of my fellow mental health professionals, that just introducing mindfulness meditation into our daily routine is equally as helpful as taking prescribed medications for conditions such as anxiety, depression, and chronic pain.

The trouble is, prescribed medications by themselves, are generally only responsible for about a 20% decrease in symptoms. Not a particularly impressive improvement for either medication or mindfulness meditation on the face of it, although the fact that meditation came out a good as all those pills with their frequently unpleasant side-effects, resulted in some media outlets hailing meditation as the 'new breakthrough' in mental health, whilst others focussed on that 20% statistic with comments about the "limited efficacy of meditation in mental health treatment" (I could almost hear the collective groan of my brothers and sisters in the helping professions!)

An integrated approach

The fact is that there is no such thing as a magic bullet or a simple solution in mental health, a single thing that you can take or do that will make everything better. Our marvellous brains, minds, and nervous systems are much too complex for that. For any change in outcome to occur, we need to take an integrated and multi-axial approach - psychobabble aside, we need to work in a way that respects and honours the minds' complexity, and the increasingly recognised fact that our minds and bodies are not separate entities but an intricate and integrated whole.

At JMA Psychology Canberra, we appreciate the complexity of the mind, of relationships, and of life. We see our work with every client as an enormous privilege to understand a fellow human being as much as we can, and to put our heads together with him, her, or them, to find opportunities to release unnecessary suffering from their lives. And whilst we can't promise a "cure" (not even a guaranteed 20% decrease in pain!) we can promise an approach that focuses on you as an individual, with absolute respect for all of your vast complexity.