Saturday, 4 June 2011

I don't have all the answers

As I have said before I am a Dr of Psychology, I was in private practice before my medical condition became too severe for me to continue working. I have been asked recently if I would go back to this profession if I could in the future and this got me thinking. I don't think you ever 'leave' the profession as such because Psychology isn't so much what you do as who you become, as with everything once you know something you can't then not know it. Psychology teaches you to think about things in a different way and that ability will always be with me now.
So would I want to continue in this field? I would consider it as part of an organisation where it didn't just involve one to one counselling and the boundaries were clear cut, I will never return to private practice, I had become very disillusioned and here is why.
When I started working privately I purposely kept my fee as small as possible as I was very aware of the vulnerable members of society who would not be able to afford to go privately and I wanted to be able to offer them an affordable service. Even so I often found after the assessment visit I was turning people away with the words 'this is normal, you don't need counselling'
I found more and more people when faced with situations and the attached emotions sought out professionals to 'give them something to stop the emotion' be that a pill from the doctor or the 'mysterious substance' that is counselling. Got a physical pain see your GP, got an emotional pain see a counsellor. But just as pills are not necessary for all physical ailments counselling is not needed for all emotional feelings.
Many of our emotions are normal and necessary , yes even the painful, negative ones serve a purpose. But people don't seem to want to 'feel' anything anymore, they want to be able to go somewhere and have the discomfort stopped. Many times I satisfied a client simply by telling them their feelings were normal, you lose someone close you expect to still be feeling that loss several months later, no counsellor worthy of their qualifications will attempt to stop you feeling them, they are normal.
So what is this 'quick fix' mentality all about? Why do we seem to be unable or unwilling to have uncomfortable, negative or sad emotions? Why do we assume we have the right to have them 'taken away' or stopped as soon as they appear? My theory? Well my theory is it is this society. We all expect, not just want but expect those around us to make our lives as easy as possible, we all expect to have our wishes fulfilled yesterday. We have been led to believe we don't have to, and maybe even aren't capable of suffering bad times, and if they do happen there is always someone who can solve it for us.And so people seek help from professionals over things that years ago would have been considered 'a family matter' Or just plain normal. Maybe there lies the real problem, years ago families stayed close and were available for support, you could talk to your mum, one of your siblings or a close friend and get support and advice. Someone close to you had been through what you were going through and understood.
Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not against counselling, in the right circumstances and used properly it is invaluable but to take the place of self sufficiency, family and friends it comes a poor second and is encouraging people to believe everything has to be 'fixed' in their lives.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said Doc. Totally agree that people need to get in touch with their emotions and not be scared of them. We have become too 'Americanised' where counselling is concerned and it detracts from the serious cases who really need it!