Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The importance of ethics

Sometimes common sense isn’t so common and despite all the talk about ethics, it isn’t as common as it should be either.

I’ve been to see 4 practitioners in the last 18 months or so who have messed me around. One practitioner gave me a different treatment than the one I had booked. After the treatment, I asked them for the treatment I had booked and they told me that my “energy would be all over the place” and it therefore wasn’t possible. I concluded that they had obviously done this on purpose to at least guarantee I’d be back for one more session so they’d make more money. (This dragging out of sessions and prolonging intakes goes on far too often for my liking). As one practitioner said to me when I mentioned this, your energy should be in a more coherent state after a treatment and therefore the treatment that I had requested would give a more accurate reading. I emailed this person stating that I felt totally disrespected and not listened to and not surprisingly didn’t hear anything back. What good is any tool/technique/therapy if there aren’t the basics of safety, respect and trust? Needless to say, I didn’t go back so their unethical and unprofessional behaviour didn’t guarantee them what they thought it would: a returning paying customer.

Another practitioner was obviously triggered by me or by issues that I was bringing up, this is called countertransference in psychotherapy. And again, they abdicated themselves of all responsibility. From my point of view they had zero insight into their own behaviour. That’s worrying, we all have blind spots, but we’re supposed to discuss cases with peers or supervisors so that we can see things more clearly and act accordingly. That certainly did not happen in this case. I am being ethical by not mentioning any identifying details about these practitioners, because there are, or ought to be, the proper channels to deal with these matters. I’m not going to drag anyone’s name through the mud as that would be unethical and unprofessional of me.

You can be the best marketer in the world but if you don’t deliver what you promise, what does it matter? We’re drenched in marketing and we fall for it time and time again but how many times does it actually deliver even 50% of what it promises? There has to be something in any relationship to the benefit of both (or more) parties. I’m always of wary of practitioners who talk about their success rates. The success rate of any treatment doesn’t depend solely on the practitioner, it also depends on the readiness and willingness of the client. It is a two way street and I’d be wary of any practitioner that promises anything. Any progress and healing is down to both partners working together and for that you need the absolute basics of any good therapeutic relationship: safety, trust and respect.

It takes a lot to reach out and ask for help, there are many vulnerable people who might even be suicidal and I don’t think that enough practitioners are taking their responsibilities seriously enough. And this is true for seasoned therapists belonging to professional organisations being supervised. Too many people just don't get the help that they need. There are guidelines you can follow in choosing someone, but also trust your gut and if you do meet some duds, don’t blame yourself. That’s the thing that really gets me, clients nearly always think it’s their fault and practitioners, by being defensive and maybe even fearful of legal liability, are loathe to own their shit as Elizabeth Gilbert would say.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Avoiding your pain only prolongs it

In my experience avoiding my pain only prolongs it. The simple, but certainly not easy, act of feeling pain helps you through it. But the problem is we often fear that if we felt our pain, it would never end and/or it might swallow us up, and so we run. We run in many different ways and in many different directions. But the ways and the directions don’t matter, they only serve as a smokescreen as to what’s really going on.

Self-regulation is the ability to handle all of our emotions. But self regulation doesn’t happen in a vacuum, we need to have been taught and shown how to regulate our emotions, particularly difficult emotions, or what might be termed negative emotions. Our care givers are our most important and influential teachers in this regard. They show us how they handle their emotions and we learn from them. If they can handle their emotions, they can then provide a safe container for us to feel our emotions, that is, they co-regulate us. We learn self regulation from co-regulation.

Of course this is the ideal situation and many of us didn’t have that, not only for reasons of abuse and neglect but also because very few of our parents were taught how to self regulate by their parents. We’re mostly living in an emotionally illiterate world where we divide emotions into positive and negative and so most of us are emotionally constipated, our barrels are full of unprocessed stuff which makes us feel like crap.

The important thing is that you find a way through, not under, over or any other way except through. The way for each of us will be different, find what path feels true and right for you.