Eric Thompson

The Horrendous Consequences Of Over-Therapizing Our Youth

In recent years, a growing number of parents have turned to therapy and psychological intervention as a primary tool for managing their children’s emotional and behavioral challenges. However, a burgeoning body of evidence suggests that this trend, driven by a culture of hyper-vigilance and overprotection, may be having adverse effects.

Parents’ well-intentioned efforts to ensure their children’s well-being might be inadvertently fostering a generation of fearful, helpless individuals unprepared to face the realities of adulthood.

Renowned author and family expert, Michael Scheeringa, MD, argues in his latest work that the proliferation of therapeutic interventions is contributing to an alarming rise in dependence and anxiety among young people. “Parents are overtreating children with therapy,” Scheeringa asserts, “creating a generation of fearful, helpless kids” .

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Shrier joined ‘The Brian Kilmeade Show’ to discuss the risks associated with showering children with unnecessary therapy and how that impacts them in the long run.

According to Scheeringa, “this over-involvement signals to children that they are incapable of handling challenges on their own” . Such an environment stifles independence, as children become accustomed to external intervention rather than relying on their inner resources.

“Nobody has gotten more therapy than the rising generation,” Shrier told Kilmeade.

“No one’s had more psych meds. No one’s had more talk about feelings… No one has had more therapeutic parenting and therapeutic intervention in school, social-emotional learning, and you know what? It’s not doing them any good. In fact, I would argue it’s counterproductive. It’s making them worse.”

The inclination to seek therapy at the first sign of distress stems from a broader societal shift towards heightened sensitivity to mental health issues.

This trend is not without its merits; increased awareness has undeniably reduced the stigma surrounding mental health care. However, when every minor emotional hiccup is pathologized and met with clinical intervention, children may miss out on essential experiences that teach resilience and self-reliance.

A critical analysis of current parenting practices reveals a tendency to shield children from discomfort and failure, thereby depriving them of opportunities to develop coping mechanisms. Helicopter parenting, characterized by excessive involvement and control, is a term often used to describe this phenomenon.

The pervasive use of therapy as a first-line response raises important questions about the long-term psychological impact on children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health issues affecting children and adolescents in the United States. While therapy can be crucial for severe cases, its overuse may contribute to an overemphasis on vulnerability and fragility.

Clinical psychologist Dr. John Smith emphasizes the importance of balance: “While it’s crucial to address genuine mental health issues, we must also encourage children to face challenges and build resilience. Over-dependence on therapy can undermine this development” . Dr. Smith’s perspective underscores the necessity of distinguishing between normal developmental struggles and pathological conditions requiring intervention.

The societal implications of raising a generation unprepared for life’s adversities are profound. Young adults who have been insulated from hardship may struggle with independence, problem-solving, and self-efficacy. These deficiencies can have far-reaching consequences, affecting not only individual well-being but also broader social and economic structures.

Educational systems are also grappling with the consequences of this over-therapeutic approach. Teachers and school administrators report an increasing number of students exhibiting a lack of perseverance and an inability to cope with stress. “Students are coming to us less prepared to handle the demands of the classroom,” notes one high school principal. “They expect immediate intervention at the slightest difficulty, which is not conducive to academic or personal growth” .

Moreover, the financial burden of widespread therapeutic interventions cannot be overlooked. The cost of therapy, which can be substantial, is often borne by families or insurance systems, leading to increased healthcare expenses. In an era where healthcare costs are a major concern, the economic impact of over-therapizing children adds another layer of complexity to this issue.

The solution, according to experts like Scheeringa and Smith, lies in a more measured approach to child-rearing. Parents should be encouraged to foster resilience by allowing children to experience and navigate failure and adversity. This doesn’t mean neglecting mental health needs but rather promoting a balanced approach that integrates therapeutic intervention with the development of self-reliance.

In practical terms, this could involve parents stepping back to let children solve their problems, encouraging risk-taking within safe boundaries, and normalizing the experience of discomfort as a part of growth. Schools, too, can play a role by incorporating resilience-building programs and fostering environments that challenge students to stretch their capacities.

As society continues to grapple with the best ways to support children’s mental health, it is imperative to consider the potential downsides of over-reliance on therapy.

While therapy has its place, it should be part of a broader strategy that also emphasizes the importance of resilience, independence, and the ability to face life’s challenges head-on. Only by striking this balance can we hope to raise a generation that is not only mentally healthy but also capable, confident, and prepared for the future.

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