I think of doctors/therapists as expert consultants, like a tax agent. their job’s to do a lot of specialised research & be able to summarise it for ppl who don’t have the time or ability to do it themselves so those ppl can make informed decisions.
I think that’s a good way of looking at one way doctors and therapists can be helpful. There are also a few other things:
Good doctors and therapists often have a lot of experience working with a lot of people who have similar problems. That can lead them to develop a lot of useful intuitions that you can’t get just from reading research even if you have a lot of time to devote to it.
They also often have access to supervisors with more professional experience and wisdom who can help them to check their perspective.
(The intuitions of the doctors and therapists you might consult are not infallible and can go badly wrong. The same is true of their supervisors. But they can also be very, very useful).
Also, if you have a chronic condition, mental illness, or neurological disorder, you will probably often deal with doctors who are less familiar with the current research on your condition than you are. This is particularly the case if your condition is relatively rare. Doctors/therapists can still have useful expertise in other ways in that situation, for instance:
- Someone who doesn’t understand why an IUD is necessary treatment for your condition may still know how to insert one safely
- Someone who doesn’t know anything about autism might still know useful things about recovery from trauma
- Someone who doesn’t know why one medication is a better treatment than another for your condition might still know how to monitor for toxic side effects and interactions with other drugs
In any case, no matter why a doctor or therapist is helpful to you, they’re an expert you’re consulting. If they start acting like a brain slug and try to prevent you from thinking or acting for yourself, that’s a major red flag.