Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash
By Marie Miguel, writing and research expert
Being a patient is challenging
When you’re a patient, and you go to see a mental health professional or any other kind of clinician, you have real symptoms to report. It’s not easy to get the courage to see a therapist or psychiatrist, and some signs you might be revealing could be vulnerable. That’s one of the many reasons why it’s vital for mental health professionals and any provider to believe their patients. No matter what your client says, it’s real to them. Even if they say that they’re seeing purple butterflies flying through the air and you can’t see them, those butterflies are real to your client. That’s why it’s essential to believe the symptoms of your client.
It may be unusual, but it’s real to them
If a patient comes into a doctor’s office and explains that they’re having neuropathy in their hands and think it might be due to a medication that they’re taking, believe them. Maybe statistics or studies don’t indicate that their medication causes it, but it could be causing that for your patient, so it’s essential to consider what your patient is saying. Their experience is real, and you have to validate their feelings.
One of the most important things a doctor can do is actively listen to their patients. When they’re hearing what their patients are saying, they can provide adequate medical care because they can be a detective and help their client figure out what’s going on with them. Whether it’s in a mental health capacity or a medical office, listening is crucial. What’s important is to care about your patient’s wellbeing. You can respect the knowledge that they have about themselves, their body, and their mind. If you don’t actively listen to your clients, you won’t be able to give them the care that they need.
Mental health issues and listening
It’s estimated that around 20% of adults in the US manage a mental illness every year. That’s why when somebody gets the courage to see a psychiatrist, listening to their concerns is meaningful to them. So many people deal with mental health issues, and it’s essential to validate your patient’s concerns. They are in your office because something is troubling them enough to seek help, and that’s why your attention matters. Letting them know what is available to them is essential, sometimes it is therapy, sometimes medical treatments, other times it can be both, whichever one is chosen you need to let them know what is out there. As the years have gone by there is a push for herbal treatments like CBD to be used to calm anxiety and stress in patients, as long as companies can ensure a high quality product then this may be the right pathway for them and you can set in motion about how they can go about that legally.
One thing to wary of is diagnosing a patient when you don’t have all the facts. That’s why active listening is essential. As you’re gathering information, you’re learning more and more about the patient and their symptoms. You can ask the appropriate questions to get the most relevant information so you can treat the patient in a specific way. People are not one-size-fits-all, and everyone has different issues. As a provider, it’s your ethical responsibility to hear your patient and believe them when they report symptoms. Not only will it make them feel validated, but you can do a better job when you know what the person is experiencing. Otherwise, you’re operating in the dark. It’s better to have more information about the person you’re treating so you can get them the right care.
Seeking mental health treatment
You may have had experiences with therapists who don’t believe you when you express yourself, and that’s unfortunate. But that doesn’t mean that every therapist is like that. It’s important to remember that there are therapists who care, and they will listen to their patients and believe them. Don’t hesitate to search for a mental health professional if you are struggling. You can look for “therapist near me,” and find someone who will care and listen to what you need. Getting the right support is crucial when you are having mental health issues. If you’re putting in the effort to get help, you have the right to see a therapist who listens.
Marie Miguel Biography
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.