So in your most recent blog you called out an article written by a psychologist who said that men aren't maturing into men. You said that he was breaking the #1 rule of therapy; defining what a person should be. But isn't psychology based on standardized norms? Don't you diagnose 'abnormal behaviors' suggesting that you believe there are 'normal behaviors'? Are you just a gigantic hypocrite?
Well, I'm kind of a hypocrite. A mental health disorder is technically supposed to describe 'abnormal' behaviors and after treatment you would hope that the person's behaviors would change or reach some made up idea for 'normal'. So, technically speaking, as a therapist I'm peddling norms.
BUT, I will say that I personally see disorders as a snapshot of present, current symptoms and, in assessments, I ask clients to define their own symptoms. If they are unable to I help them do so. But I don't announce to them what their symptoms are. I don't look at a client and say 'you have a, b, and c wrong with you and we need to turn them into x, y, and z'. People bring their own definitions for their disorders, I give them a name.
While we're on the topic, what is 'normal'?
I have no idea.
What about those people who I just know need to be in therapy. You know, like celebrities, or my friend, or my parents. Just that person who you just know needs to be fixed right up. What do you do with them?
I hate getting asked about the people who everyone seems to know just needs to get into therapy. Like they expect a therapist to do something magical inside the therapy room and these people will be fixed. You should have seen how many people asked me what would need to be done to fix Britney Spears when she was having some issues way back when. I had no idea what needed to be done if anything at all needed to be done.
The thing is, as I mentioned in the first FAQ, client's do better when they want to be there. They can't be forced into changing. It's sort of like trying to force someone to drop a drug problem. Just because other people want something to happen to a person doesn't mean that that will happen and there's next to nothing a therapist or medication therapy can do to help a person who doesn't want help. And in the end, every person is entirely unique from everyone else so I can't just look at someone and develop a therapy. A therapy needs to be created together between client and therapist.
Do you care about your clients?
I do. An awful lot. Even when I don't necessarily like them. I want the best for my clients and they stay with me for a very long time. I can remember my first client and I'll probably never forget that person.
Can relationships between client and therapist foster after, or during, therapy?
Technically speaking, after a certain amount of time (I don't recall how long) a client and therapist can have a romantic relationship after the therapy ends. But it's like a time frame of like years and I would never, ever recommend it. The issue is that, no matter what that relationship looks like, the therapist has an influence over the client. Any relationship that fosters outside of that therapeutic relationship is always going to be marred by that influence no matter how much client and therapist think it wouldn't.
I don't remember if there is any issue with a friendship. But, again, I wouldn't recommend it. Because of the influence a therapist has. But also, with both of these types of relationships, the therapy helps serve as a model for future relationships. And like many future relationships, therapeutic relationships end. The last piece of therapy done in therapy occurs when that therapy ends. Because rarely do people get the opportunity to learn how to end things well. Having some relationship after therapy ends undermines that effect.
How do you work with people you don't like? In the extreme version of this, how do you work with perpetrators of awful crimes of things like murder, rape, or other terrible things?
It's really hard some times. Every professional will have a different take on this issue. For me, I see myself as a speed bump in the way of future crimes by the perpetrator. So I see myself as influencing future behavior and hopefully keeping people from being victimized. But, even with the worst of people who have done the worst of things, there's always something about that person to empathize with. It can be hard to find sometimes. But at some point that person was an innocent child. At some point that person had a future as a very respectable person. There's always something.
As always, don't be afraid to ask me any question and I'll try to answer you as well as I can.