Here’s my quote of the day, referencing our therapeutic zeitgeist. From Ken Pope, Responding to suicidal risk:
A therapist (cited by Colt, 1983, p. 60) recounts an influential event early in her career:
“I had a slasher my first year in the hospital. She kept cutting herself to ribbons–with glass, wire, anything she could get her hands on. Nobody could stop her. The nurses were getting very angry… I didn’t know what to do, but I was getting very upset. So I went to the director, and in my best Harvard Medical School manner began in a very intellectual way to describe the case. To my horror, I couldn’t go on, and I began to weep. I couldn’t stop. He said, ‘I think if you showed the patient what you showed me, I think she’d know you cared.’ So I did. I told her that I cared, and that it was distressing to me. She stopped. It was an important lesson.”
The home visits, the long and frequent sessions, the therapist’s late-night search for a runaway client, and other special measures mentioned earlier are ways some therapists have found useful to communicate this caring, although such approaches obviously would not fit all therapists, all clients, or all theoretical orientations. (ed- no shit?) One of the most fundamental aspects of this communication of caring is the therapist’s willingness to listen, to take seriously what the client has to say. Farberow (1985, p. C9) puts it well: “If the person is really trying to communicate how unhappy he is, or his particular problems, then you can recognize that one of the most important things is to be able to hear his message. You’d want to say, ‘Yes, I hear you. Yes, I recognize that this is a really tough situation. I’ll be glad to listen. If I can’t do anything, then we’ll find someone who can.'”
And that, friends, is the difference between a humanistic and cognitive-behavioral therapist.
One models authenticity, the latter has authenticity conditioned out of them as they are taught to screen their own emotional reactions for excess and “distortions”, which renders their own genuine experience suppressed and denied, which makes our therapists, or role models front line propagandists of correct, soul-crushing neck-up experience in our properly rational man’s man’s world. Who is an emperor, naked to the bone.