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Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr. Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in three continents, he has been training with Dr. Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives.
Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.
Dear Dr. Holmes and Mr. Baer:
Thank you very much for reading my letter. I’ve been going through a hard time lately. I want to see a therapist, but I don’t have enough money for one. Is there anything I can do to help my mental health even if I’m on a limited budget? Can you suggest any resources or therapists for people who don’t make a lot of money?
Thank you for your email.
Access to mental health support is an issue in many countries. Shortages of therapists, who tend anyway to be found mainly in urban areas, and financial constraints conspire to exacerbate the problem. Even where access to medical facilities is free e.g. the UK, demand tends to outstrip supply and wait times can be extensive.
In the Philippines, there are some limited free sources of therapy and the internet is a good source for these, e.g. this piece.
In addition, online searches can provide extensive information on a wide variety of mental health issues. There are also excellent videos and podcasts available for free. The proviso of course is, like everything else on the internet, one has to be able to distinguish between information, false information, and disinformation. If you are fortunate enough to have a basic grasp of your problem(s), then you can do your own research into symptoms, causes, treatments etc.
Prescription medicine is often recommended and this can usually be obtained from your own doctor, particularly if you have become knowledgeable enough regarding your illness to be in a position to make a good case for it. A healthy lifestyle – diet, exercise, no smoking/drinking etc. – will help, and many also have faith in homeopathic remedies, particularly those that have withstood the test of time.
With one or a combination of these, hopefully you will enjoy a more healthy and happy 2024.
All the best,
Thank you so much for your letter and for bringing up a question which many people want answered.
I trained under Dr. Jack Annon, from the University of Hawaii, who started the Plissit Model (of Sex Therapy). While it is true that the model was first formulated as a guideline in the field of sexology, I have used it many times for the many different concerns people come to me with. It saves a lot of time, resources (including finances), and angst for both the client and therapist.
PLISSIT is an acronym to determine the levels of intervention an individual may need to get better.
P stands for permission. Permission giving, if that is really all a person needs; as in being reassured that yes, it is normal to want to ram through the car whose driver cut you off (but not to actually do it). Yes, it is normal to avoid even your best friend when you know you must apologize to them, and in time, one happy sign that you are getting better is actually apologizing.
Often, friends, family, and/or guidance counselors in real life or mental health professionals in call-in radio programs, etc. can help since all that is really needed is someone to provide a non-judgmental space where you can be free to explore different aspects of yourself without embarrassment or fear.
The second level is limited information. Again, this is sufficient if that is really all the person needs. For example, specific information that will help deal with your concerns more fully. Is there a sex addicts anonymous here in the Philippines that can help me? (There is.) What are the steps I need to take so I can be more confident in public speaking since this is a requisite for my job?
The third level is specific suggestions. Oftentimes, that is all a person needs to alleviate their concerns. Example: Next time you feel scared or angry, try some deep breathing exercises which can help alleviate the fear or anger so you can decide things more rationally; or maybe it’s time to say goodbye and drop this so-called boyfriend of yours.
The fourth and final level is intensive therapy. This is where Mr. Baer’s suggestion of contacting any of the professional services willing to give free therapy would be spot on.
Sometimes there is really no replacement for therapy. Dr. Lissa Rankin wrote the book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself (2020). I know, I know, it seems ironic that its subtitle emphasizes that you can heal yourself, but her words are the best I can find to explain why you may need therapy from a professional: “The power of the subconscious mind explains why positive thinking only gets you so far. How many times have you read self-help books, taken workshops, made New Year’s resolutions, and vowed to improve your life, only to realize a year later that your life is no better? Since the conscious mind is only functioning 5% of the time, it has little power to overcome the weighty influence of the subconscious mind. To effect lasting changes in belief, you must change your beliefs not just at the level of the conscious mind, but in the subconscious mind.”
I have asked some of my former students at PLM, those who are just a thesis away from getting their MA’s in clinical psychology, if they would be willing to give free therapy to clients, on the condition that I would supervise them. These are students who have been trained in class to deal with underlying issues affecting our thoughts and behavior that cannot be noticed at first. Three have said yes and have even committed some time to do this. Please feel free to write us again so I can help you get in touch with one of them.
I sincerely hope we have been able to help you so that, on the eve of 2024, you, we, and every other sentient being can look forward to a healthier, happier new year.
All the best,
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