A guide to psychotropic medication for therapists and their clients. This book lays out the pros & cons of mind-altering prescription drugs from a critical but balanced perspective.

Books considering psychotropic drugs tend to one of two extremes: either uncritical accounts of their effectiveness and the presumed biophysiology underpinning their action or highly critical “anti-psychiatry” polemics which damn the entire concept.

Psychiatric Drugs Explained, now in its third edition, manages to occupy the middle ground. Explicit details are given of the desired action of commonly used psychotropic drugs (with both UK and US names), but equal attention is given to their side effects and alternatives to their use (eg: in the management of sleep disorders).

David Healy is famous for his client-centred focus. I attended a lecture in which he warned that psychiatrists must pay more attention to psychological factors in the use of drugs and clinical psychologists must acknowledge the effectiveness of medication if both professions are not to be eclipsed by another with a more balanced perspective.

Psychiatric Drugs Explained maintains this client-centred focus: the language and arguments are as accessible to clients as to mental or physical health professionals. The author intends that clients be part of the readership and believes that people taking psychotropic medication deserve and can cope with a deeper understanding than the usual “there’s an imbalance in the chemicals in your brain”.

Clients may wish to access this book via their local library, but there should be a place for it on the bookshelf of every therapist.


Healy D (1997) Psychiatric Drugs Explained. Mosby: London