Mental disorders and psychopathology are best understood as products of human history and society, and attempts should be made to characterise them as some form of universal, scientific constructs. Mental illnesses are, in a very literal sense, a product of human ingenuity. However, this does not in any way imply that they are not real. Instead, our understanding of what constitutes normal behaviour and what does not is shaped by a wide range of factors, including social and cultural forces, political and economic systems, and the particular professional groups that wield the most power and sway at the time that new definitions are being drafted. Therefore, mental illnesses are examples of social constructions, which refer to ideas that are developed by a specific community (in this case, the committee members of the DSM Work Groups, who are in turn influenced by researchers, clinicians, politicians, lay people, industry, religious beliefs, and more).
Throughout my training and practise, I am required to continually deconstruct my own psyche.
So much of it has to do with being ethical and professional, but the work and healing required to reach this position may be really arduous and challenging. I am also a human being who has been diagnosed with disorders in the past. I don’t hide the fact that I’m generally an anxious person, but I am acutely conscious of its effects on me and the role it can play in my interactions and relationships. Concerning the ethics of that, it is what I do to alleviate my anxiety so that it does not render me dysfunctional or have a significant negative impact on my career, life, relationships, etc.
I don’t necessarily have a choice as to whether or not I revisit past traumas, identify triggers, and find ways to overcome these issues if I’m to reach a point of being ethical and professional. One way to reach this point is to engage in therapy along with supervision. To engage in therapy as a therapist can only result in a more effective practise in my opinion.
Political stance, spirituality/religion, values, beliefs, worldview, my childhood, the dynamics of relationships I have been in and am currently involved in including familial, friendship and romantic relationships, culture, racial and ethnic identity, grief, attachment, hopes and dreams, communication skills, coping mechanisms, defence mechanisms, family history, relationship history, prejudices, biases, philosophies I embody; nearly every aspect of my life has been examined. Obviously, some aspects more so than others at this point.
It is necessary for me to explore everything and its potential impact on my interactions, attitudes, and behaviours towards others. If I am unaware of the effect of my triggers, traumas, and beliefs, etc., a client will never be able to achieve self-actualisation, change, or resolve, whatever the client’s needs are. For instance, my gender alone—if a man comes to me for treatment regarding his depression, but I notice apparent misogynistic tendencies in the things he discloses, and if I’m suddenly triggered by anything he says, such as, “Women just aren’t as powerful as men,”—I may easily find myself in a position where I confront his misogynistic behaviour, which I obviously disagree with. However, this is not why he sought treatment. It is not my responsibility to “decondition” him, remove his views, or recreate the narratives he has constructed about women. Yes, he may get there through therapy or self-discovery, but he may not. If this man comes to me with the realisation that his misogyny prohibits him from having satisfying and healthy relationships with women, and he wants to alter this, then we will unravel this together. (Lol, but seriously, how amazing would that be?) However, until it is stated, it will not be explored.
To sum it all up, I am constantly handed a mirror and asked to get to “know myself” on a level that most people are probably not used to, while simultaneously trying to perfect the skill of how to actively listen and empathise with others on a level that they are perhaps not used to.
It’s so easy to tell others to just “ignore” or say “it could be worst” or “it’ll be fine” but by doing so, we invalidate and downplay what the other person feels or is going through. Sometimes we say, “but it doesn’t matter” or “it’s nothing” and as a result, we end up minimising our feelings. There isn’t some kind of measurement on how ‘severe’ “it” is. Yeah, maybe it will be fine eventually but if you talk about it, it matters. Period. Regardless of how big or trivial it may seem in the grand scheme of things.
Meet Rusty. Born on June 12, 2020! He is a mixed breed of Maltese, Shih Tzu and Poodle. He kinda looks like a mixed breed of ewok and wookie.😂
A conversation about how you feel is not supposed to end in an argument.