Nationally renowned for documenting ways to reduce ADHD overtreatment while improving student outcomes.
Long before the COVID-19 lockdown, American mental health was on the decline, especially among children and young adults. Excessive use of psychiatric prescriptions continues to worsen this crisis.
Every psychiatric drug can cause an adverse reaction. But when used for more than a few weeks, these substances often induce physical dependence. When stopped, withdrawal symptoms can be worse than the troubles for which the pills were first prescribed. This often leads to patients receiving higher drug doses and increasingly serious diagnoses, drugs, and drug combinations.
Prescribing medications to treat side effects of other drugs is called "the prescribing cascade," a well-documented risky phenomenon that has contributed to the declining state of youth mental health. Children and young adults are particularly vulnerable to problems of dependence and withdrawal. Parents and patients are rarely informed of these risks. Efforts to change this unhealthy dynamic are beginning to take hold.
Loving concern is what motivates parents and young people to seek (and professionals to recommend) mental health treatment. But...
"Many of today's youth think nothing of taking Adderall (a stimulant) in the morning to get themselves going, Vicodin (an opioid) in the afternoon to treat a sports injury, 'medical' marijuana in the afternoon to relax, and Xanax (a benzodiazepine) at night to put themselves to sleep," says Dr. Anna Lembke, chief of addiction medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine.
Once fully informed about the small benefits and big risks associated with psychiatric drugs, most people desire non-drug options. They are available, but harder to find.
People are often surprised to discover they can help themselves and others flourish drug-free. This is true even when confronting complex human problems. Those who are open to learning to cope with emotional turmoil and behavioral dysfunction without using drugs can encourage others to do the same. When the focus of concern is a child, the work begins with the adults in their lives, often including parents, teachers, and other caregivers.
Dr. Watson graduated college summa cum laude and then received a doctorate in clinical and developmental psychology and postdoctoral training in pediatric psychology. Mid-career, she obtained certification in organizational change management & safety science.
As the head of psychological assessment services for a world-wide military program, a military hospital's department of pediatrics, and a pediatric hospital, Dr. Watson evaluated hundreds of children and families. While serving as a university and medical school professor, she conducted scientific research and published scholarly papers on child development, ADHD, special education, psychiatric drug use, trauma, patient and hospital safety, medical ethics, and other topics. She was among the first to document the overuse of ADHD drugs and effective community-based strategies to reduce the need for psychiatric labels and drugs among American youth. Dr. Watson has appeared on national TV and radio programs such as The PBS News Hour, CBN, CNN, and NPR. Her work has been discussed in popular magazines and newspapers across the U.S. and overseas.
Today, Dr. Watson uses her experience to serve not only to individuals but also to healthcare entities, businesses, and community organizations. She continues to publish and speak publicly on child development and the challenges of the modern mental health care treatment paradigm. She runs a private consulting practice in Virginia Beach.
Always a conference highlight, Dr. Watson has provided hundreds of lectures, seminars, workshops, and talks to educate parents and professionals about child development, modern psychiatric care, and successful home, school, and community approaches to reducing the need for treating children with psychiatric drugs. Watch a sample TV segment.
On March 29, 2023, Pharmanipulation podcast hosts Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman and Caroline Renko interview psychologist Dr. Gretchen LeFever Watson and journalist Robert Whitaker about the overdiagnosis of ADHD.
In addition to publishing scholarly journal articles on numerous topics, Dr. Watson's book on patient safety (Your Patient Safety Survival Guide: How to Protect Yourself and Others from Medical Errors) was an Amazon #1 Best Seller in 2017. It received high praise from Family Medicine, Mothers Against Medical Error, the Network for Excellence in Healthcare Innovation, The Leapfrog Group, and renowned patient safety leaders. She has also authored opinion pieces in newspapers and professional blogs (Psychology Today, Mad in America, Huff Post, etc.).
In follow-up to a Medicating Normal Community Event held at the Sandler Center on January 26, 2023, a free program will be offered at the Meyer E. Oberndorf Central Library Auditorium, 5:30-7:00 PM on April 20, 2023. The program - "The Public's Response to Our Over-reliance Psychiatric Drugs" - is appropriate for lay and professional community members. It is free and open to the public. This event will introduce you to new resources and may inspire you to become a champion for safer use of psychiatric drugs.
A Danish filmmaker is nearing completion of "Shooting the Messenger" documentary, which aims to use insights from Dr. Watson's work to stop overuse of psychiatric drugs in Denmark and other developing countries.
Complimentary 10-minute intake phone conferences and self-pay services are available. Self-pay sessions, which maintain client privacy and control, begin at $200 per session with a limited number of sliding scale slots.
Negotiated rates for speaking and corporate training.