If you've been following my blog for a while, you know I like to be conservative with medications in general, particularly in children. Having worked with juvenile delinquents for a number of years (and visited many a residential treatment facility), I was curious to read more about Wedge's treatment approach.
Wedge is a family systems therapist, and as such views the symptoms a child has not as a psychiatric disorder, but rather as a sign that something is wrong in the family. She feels that the family can be fixed through therapeutic intervention, after which the child will stop displaying so many symptoms. Now this isn't to say that she blames the family or the parents - not at all! Just that there are areas which may be causing concerns that need to be healed. In addition, family therapists may meet with siblings and even extended family, teachers, and other involved people.
A few shocking stats from the book that will give you pause:
- More than 4.5 million kids are diagnosed with ADHD
- More than 1 million are diagnosed as bipolar
- Child psychiatrists prescribe psychotropic drugs in children as young as two years old
- For every 100 children that are prescribed ADHD drugs for a year, 1-2 will have a drug related psychotic event
- 2-4 million kids are on medication for mental diagnoses
- Parents are often unaware of the dangerous side effects in medications
Of course, the key to this sort of therapy is that the parents must be actively involved or it just won't work. In addition, if the underlying family issues are not addressed, another family member may later develop symptoms. I often saw children who didn't respond well to intervention, whose parents seemed to sabotage my efforts. And later, we'd see younger siblings come through the court system too. It can be a vicious cycle.
The other consideration is that the therapist needs to have a really strong relationship with the patient. It can be tricky to find the right therapist, but Wedge does offer some guidelines at the end of her book.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this. So much, that I devoured it in two days. All of the case studies of the children Wedge has worked with really make this an interesting book. I also think the tips inside would be helpful to many parents. And if you have a child that has some behavior problems, it would be a must-read prior to considering medication. Having the background that I do, I feel that there are some (limited) times when medication is warranted in children, but I also think that kids are significantly overmedicated, and that parents should empower themselves by doing research prior to filling a prescription for their child.
If you'd like to know more, you can visit Marilyn Wedge's website. She has a PhD from the University of Chicago and has more than twenty years of experience working with children, adolescents, and families. She is a family therapist in private practice in Westlake Village, California.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review purposes. The opinions stated above are my own. I participated in this review through TLC Book Tours.