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In the Press

Joel Kanter — June 22, 2014

AAPCSW Listserv Moderator Joel Kanter responded to Benedict Carey's June 21, 2014 NY Times article, Seeing Sons Violent Potential but Finding Little Help or Hope, about the violence potential of young men. Kanter's comment was selected by the NY Times as one of their “NYT Picks.”

As a psychotherapist, helping teens and young men like the one featured in this article requires more than simply finding the right diagnosis and medications; it requires an empathic understanding of the unhappiness and anger that they experience. Too often, mental health personnel, let alone the insurers, focus solely on the externals of problematic behaviors and imagine these as merely the manifestations of a malfunctioning brain. This perspective—often akin to trying to wedge the round peg of a troubled individual into the square hole of the DSM and biological psychiatry—just leaves the young person feeling more alienated and adrift… and even more pessimistic about any mental health intervention. And the families in these situations need expert consultation on an ongoing basis to help them provide the optimal balance of support and structure that can help their child develop their self-regulatory capacities and interpersonal skills. Each of these situations is quite unique and manualized “cookie cutter” interventions rarely work. Successful interventions require a per sistent trial-and-error approach over a period of several years, not fits and starts with a revolving door of psychiatrists, therapists and treatment programs.

- Joel Kanter, Silver Spring, MD in the New Yorker Times