Ethics of Becoming Competent in Psychopharmacology

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Gary Gala_photoOur therapeutic interventions come through our relationship and interactions with clients. Yet, many of our clients are also being treated with prescription medications, and others may benefit from them. What is our responsibility as professionals to understand our clients’ experience with medications—especially since they are more likely to confide in us than in their physicians or psychiatrists? Treating clients, who are taking or may be in need of medications, raises ethical issues about the importance of our own competence in this arena. In this workshop, Dr. Gala provides a foundation in psychopharmacology and discusses how to talk with clients about their experiences, including any “non-compliance,” adverse effects, misunderstanding about their medication, and collaboration with their doctor.

Gary Gala, MD, Assistant Professor and Chief of the Psychiatry Consult Liaison Service at UNC School of Medicine, wears many hats. In college, he majored in English and wrote a novel as his senior thesis; in medical school, he took coursework in philosophy and conducted research on word choice in mental illness. Before training in psychiatry, Dr. Gala practiced general surgery for seven years, with experience in trauma/critical care and lab research on the hormonal physiology of shock. He currently directs the consult-liaison service at UNC, where he is responsible for consultations with all the other non-psychiatric services in the hospital. He also teaches, mentors, and supervises medical students and psychiatry residents. His research interests are in philosophy and psychiatry.