A lot of professional Facebook posts talk about what an individual or business does and why they do it better than everyone else. This one, however, is a bit different. I’m writing about what I don’t do as a therapist. Curious? Then read on…
1. I’m not Judge Judy.
My role isn’t to decide the “facts of the case” in a he-said-she-said argument; I’m there to help couples and families develop the tools to more effectively communicate with each other (e.g., I-Statements, Active Listening and Empathetic Feedback) so that they can settle their disputes more amicably.
I also don’t have a gavel, because when I try to hammer something I often end up smashing my thumb. Don’t even ask me about power tools.
2. I’m not Dr. Phil.
I rarely give direct advice. Rather, through therapeutic dialogue, I challenge and guide people to develop the insights to figure things out for themselves.
I also have a bit more hair and lack that Texas drawl.
3. I’m not Moses
Charlton Heston fan, yes. But coming down the mountain bearing the wisdom of the ages? Nuh-uh. My clients are the experts on themselves and their unique life stories; and I’m the guy who can help them get where they want to go.
It’s an equal, team effort, and should my clients ever feel that I’m going in a wrong direction or, God forbid, I ever inadvertently do or say something to offend them, they are to call me on it in the moment. I take feedback well and it’s very important to me to do a good job for everyone.
4. I’m not the captain of the Therapy Ship.
The client is; I’m more like the navigator. I encourage clients to set formal, reasonable goals for our sessions together. Goals are my accountability to them that we’re doing actual work in here and not just chit-chatting.
By periodically checking our progress against the goals, it also provides a barometer for determining when we’re getting close to completing our work together. Now that’s good consumerism!
5. My wife and I are not The Brady Bunch.
Over 24 years together, Cheryl and I have had our share of ups and downs, some minor, some serious. We’ve endured the strain of financial hardships, the loss of our only child through miscarriage, estrangement from certain family members, and a host of other real-world challenges that most couples face at one time or another.
We’ve participated in couples counseling to learn the same communications tools I now teach other couples. We’ve had to periodically reset, refocus and re-ground ourselves in our marriage.
But it’s all worth it. Because, at the end of the day, Cheryl and I are still each other’s best friend.
…And unlike the Bradys, our bathrooms have toilets.
6. I’m not the poster child for perfect mental health.
I’m human, and like everyone else I have challenges that I must overcome. In my case, these are Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). From time to time I also struggle with insecurity, as do most people.
But thanks to the help of some really good therapists whom I have seen, I’ve learned to manage those challenges and strive to be the best I can be. And what I’ve learned through working on myself, combined with my professional training, I impart to my clients.
So why am I not all these things? Because my goal is to empower, rather than enable those who seek my services. To aid them in their journey of self-discovery, that they can tap the power that’s within themselves to heal, to grow.
Sometimes, in the long run, less really is more.