A wee while ago I have been asked " I don't understand how it is that I (and so many others I assume), can feel such a strong connection to a therapist when we only see each other one hour a week. There is nothing I have read that says this is or is not healthy and I find that the connection really bothers me. I don't understand it and I can't seem to accept that it is healthy given the circumstance that I am actually an adult".
That reminded me of how conflictual the concept of caring in therapy is – maybe its worthwhile writing a bit more about it. Those who have followed my writings over the years will have a fair idea that I subscribe pretty much to the Beatle song "All you need is Love". But in a lot of therapeutic circles that is a very 'DANGEROUS' concept. Even though we call these professions caring professions or helping professions, showing caring to clients can be seen as the clinician being over-involved, not objective, being carried away. Clients or patients who come seeking help more often than not are reduced to numbers, cases, and diagnostic criteria: a perfect strategy for the clinican to remain uninvolved and untouched by the clients suffering.
A few years ago I presented a paper at a trauma conference in Melbourne. It summarised the findings of my research: "How services shape the recovery from sexual abuse". To put it very simply: I found that recovery takes place when the client experiences that s/he is given emotional support and care (love), respect, and appreciation. That in turn leads to a lessining of the symptoms, which leads to improvements of self-confidence, self-respect, and self-esteem.
It was quite a large audience, certainly the largest I've ever presented to. After the presentation most people were intrigued and commented quite excited and in an affirming way. One therapist, however, asked whether I had considered the problems that would arise when therapists focus on emotional support, love, and care? Clients might develop dependency to their therapist and isn't therapy all about becoming independent from help?
A great example of caring in the helping profession can be found watching the movie Patch Adams. (Have a look at his website here) Not everything can be helped with pills and clever interventions. Healthcare reduced to diagnosis, pills, and technical interventions becomes dead and redundant. People could just as well get a book from the library and find solutions there for their problems. And they will, because at least books are not rude – they don't marginalise people!
Most country's public mental health systems are a clear example of that. Removed from love and care, mental health problems are managed – yet rarely healed. "Recovery and public mental health" is an oxymoron. Yet more millions of dollars are pumped every year into mental health systems worldwide with increased calls for using evidence based, measurable, identifyable, reproducable techniques. Beware: Lets not care for or even show love. Firstly it's not measurable, and secondly patients might get well and might apply for my job. We can't have that.
You find my other posts about the therapeutic relationship here :
- Relationships Role in the Treatment of …
- Therapist's Role in Recovery
- How to get Over Childhood Stress: The Process of Healing
- All You Need is Love
Those readers, who might come to the conclusion that I have an axt to grind with mental health policy and mental health systems, are correct. It's not a rare occurence that systems run by politicians are incapacitated by a plethora of ridiculous ideas. Always following the motto: "If something is not working – lets do more of the same and hope for a different outcome". In my books that's the definition of crazyness.