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Your job as a therapist Your job as a therapist
by Joseph Gatt
2020-12-04 11:29:24
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There are two myths that almost any therapist will be taught in universities and during their certifications.

First myth: your patients will be deviants who want to kill their fathers so they can marry their mothers.

Second myth: psychology and counseling is about exploring the subconscious.

Both myths are false.

ther001_400The real reason anyone would want to talk to a therapist: they want to discuss a range of topics that they are not allowed to discuss within their household, at work, at school or in any other social circle.

This is where it gets very frustrating for a lot of patients.

Patients visit counselors so they can discuss things they observed their husband or wife doing, their parents doing, their boss and colleagues doing, their school mates or Church mates doing... but those they are not allowed to discuss. Either because the topic is taboo, is because there is some secret plot parallel to the official discourse in the household or at the workplace.

Counselors however often interrupt patients who are discussing what their problems, and counselors start asking patients questions about their sexual fantasies or whether they ever perceive their colleagues or family members in any sexual way. That's wrong!

Why do patients come? Perhaps their parents or family members are hiding huge difficulties from them. So the patient wants to discuss why his or her parents or other family members are acting so strange. The patient wants two things: comfort that what he or she is observing is correct and not delusional. Second, patients want to “solve the mystery” together with the counselor to try to figure out what is really going on at home.

Same goes for the workplace. The patient might come and say things like “at work they state that the mission is to serve customers best, but then they yell at customers and cheat them.” Those kinds of topics. So what the patient really wants is a conversation, a dialogue with the counselor to try to figure out whether the observations are correct, and what the observations are hinting at.

Of course patients are not always very coherent or organized in their speech. Because they are discussing traumatic events, sometimes their speech is incoherent, they have gaps in their memory, or their stories don't always add up. So it's the counselor's job to help the patient build a complete and coherent story.

Other important note: it's not always other people that are being evil and dishonest. Sometimes it's the patient who has done a lot of evil and damage to the people surrounding them, and they come for advice on how to stop that cycle of evil. Such patients often start blaming others first, want to gain the counselor's trust before they discuss their “shortcomings” and all the evil they did, or the huge problems they might have that are the consequences of bad decisions.

So what is the counselor's job? First, to ask the patient questions or try to make educated guesses as to why the patient believes what they believe.

Second, try to build a full “speculative” narrative as to why the patient is experiencing the difficulties that they are experiencing.

Third, try to guide the patient either to specialized doctors if necessary, perhaps psychiatrists if necessary, perhaps social workers if necessary, perhaps the police if necessary. Or suggest that they consult with financial advisers or legal advisers who deal with their very specific problems. Or perhaps get a detective to figure out what is really going on. Or send them to rehab. Every case is different.

Final but important point. Because psychology and counseling specifically involves trying to get to the truth, sometimes discussing the deceptive behavior and evil behavior of powerful people in our circles, dictators hate counselors and psychologists.

So in a lot of dictatorships, if you seek “psychological help” society will make fun of way and tell you that you have a disease. But those are the “sick ones” at least sick enough to accept that their dictators steal the people's money and then torture those who complain about dictators stealing their money.

As they say in dictatorships “first you investigate your parents, then you investigate your boss, then you investigate your town hall leader, then you investigate the king.” So they nip the “sickness” in the bud.

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