Saturday, June 01, 2013

A Place at the Proverbial Therapist Table for Everyone

I recently had an interesting experience that made me reflect on why people choose the mental health field, and how they see people in relation to themselves. In counselor training, we work to help trainees become more self-aware. The purpose is so they do not allow their own biases, personal issues, judgements, etc. to cloud their view of the client's worldview and experiences. It happens at times and is called countertransference. Countertransference is a normal process that we all experience. It can be related to, though not necessarily equal to empathy. Empathy is putting ourselves in other people's situations. Countertransference is when a therapist's personal issues are triggered. A person in the helping field can lose their objectivity and capacity to help when their own countertransference clouds their judgement. Naturally, I see it in myself from time to time. What is interesting is to observe it with students who begin to conceptualize their clients, whether real or role-played, from their own point-of-view. This can be expected when starting out. What can become concerning is when a student or individual is unable or unwilling to look at themselves and begin to modify their perspective to help themselves help others. It may be difficult for them to help people from their point-of-view. However, there are theorists such as Albert Ellis (Rational-emotive behavioral therapy), and Fritz Perls (Gestalt Therapy) who worked from this point-of-view and were very successful. I guess it boils down to therapists finding a theory that fits their world-view. Therefore, even those who are unable and unwilling to change their view, as long as their approach is effective and ethical have a place at the table. This was much more of a reflective article than educational for readers. Maybe someone will find some benefit. Dr. Jamison Law

Friday, May 31, 2013

Captain Picard and His Views on Domestic Violence and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Below, you will find a link to a site where you will view a video of Patrick Stewart talking out against Domestic Violence. He speaks eloquently about his own experiences as a child--viewing his father harming his mother. He also speaks about his father who had PTSD and went untreated. I have always had great respect for this man, but my opinion of him has just increased. Check it out!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Children Stuck In Between Parents

Over the past several years I have had the opportunity to work with children and teens who are stuck in between their parents. The parents have either gone through and completed a custody and divorce battle or they are still in the thick of it. The one thing I have witnessed as a therapist is how it affects children. It does not matter the reason for the divorce, the children still feel fiercely loyal to both parents. When one parent speaks poorly of the other and vice-versa, it does not create a stronger alliance between child and parent, it creates confusion and existential anxiousness for the child. They can begin to exhibit symptoms of mental health disorders such as isolation, anger and behavioral outbursts, aggression, sadness/melancholy, grades drop, etc. In some cases, there were situations of abuse that resulted in the divorce. This can create even more confusion. An abuser can speak poorly of the survivor and vice-versa. When the situation is already highly emotional, and the environment has been emotionally and possibly verbally unsafe, the added stressors of witnessing parents can increase the pathological problems the child is experiencing. It can affect their psychosocial development (see information on Erik Erikson's theory of psychosocial development), change the direction of their attachment style (see info by John Bowlby and attachment), and possibly cause the child to feel alienated in the family. All of these sound very negative and damaging, and they can be. There is always, in my mind, a silver lining to struggles. Children can grow up and with or without professional or social help, they can recover and be stronger. Existential crises can lead to resiliency and personal growth (see info on Martin Seligman's theories of Positive Psychology). In the end, I would prefer to see children treated gently when there are battles raging in the family so that they can grow up and decide for themselves what to believe about their parents. As children, they might not be cognitively ready to make those decisions, yet. Just my thoughts on the subject... Dr. Jamison Law