We would be much better served if we were told by mental health professionals from the very beginning to trust ourselves. Instead, the entire system is fraught with the infantilization of the client. This is (in general) true of both psychology and psychiatry as currently practiced.
We absolutely need others, we are ultimately interdependent and all connected. Everything matters . . . but the wrong other is often far worse than no one at all when we are hurting or in need . . . re-traumatization often being the rule rather than the exception when one enters the mental health system.
When we learn to trust ourselves, then we know when and if we should proceed with a helping relationship. This is what needs to be taught as soon as someone begins to seek help. Really it should be taught from the minute we’re born, but instead we generally are taught to stop listening to ourselves as our parents too were conditioned that way. We spread this dysfunction simply by being human. So it’s also our job as humans to heal and help others learn to heal as well. We are all in this together.
In retrospect I always knew deep down inside. We all do. Once we learn to listen, we see that our bodies/minds/spirits were always letting us know, but we did not know how to pay attention.
As I wrote in another short little post:
What therapists often like to call resistance, for me, proved to be highly accurate GPS . . . I now trust it completely.
We have internal guidance. Always.
The mental health professionals often don’t understand this fact which is why most don’t teach it. I was one and I didn’t learn it from the others either. They too, in general, don’t know to trust themselves. That’s a bit sad and one can start to have compassion for everyone when that fact becomes clear. We’re all bumbling along together . . . sometimes not so gracefully.
The lovely secret about this is that if you come to trust yourself eventually, by the process of elimination, you start finding others that know how to trust themselves too. That includes professionals that can be trusted. As you trust yourself, you will recognize others that you in turn can trust.
The truth is my journey to healing from the iatrogenic injury psychiatry imposed upon me has been extremely isolated, by necessity and because there has been NO available professionals with the appropriate skill sets, I’ve had to find my own healing path. This is, I imagine much more common than is ever let on. There are NO appropriate professionals available in a large number of individual cases. And if people are traumatized in particular ways they risk retraumatization when they approach systems supposedly set up for such care.
For me the answers have come from a synthesis of multiple sources that included both professionals and lay people . . . but the relationships pretty much never looked the way we are taught to expect by therapeutic help. They’ve been loose connections in the network of the human family — Not contrived relationships forced upon me by a system who thinks it knows better than I do.
The pretense by many professionals that there is always such a person available in the system if you seek them does a disservice to those who are on this sort of healing path of learning to trust their inner GPS. Instead, by piece meal and multiple consultations with people all over the WORLD (via the internet) . . . I have found in bits and pieces what has been healing to me . . . I don’t generally ever dish out the “find a professional” line to anyone . . . not without big caveats . . . some transformative processes demand so much more than so many people (and professionals) can even begin to conceive of . . .
So now some words to the mental health professional:
It’s okay to let your clients leave you without declaring them resistant to your care. They know better than you do when they are ready to work and with whom. It should not be assumed that just because they walk out of your office they are not finding their way even as they take that action.
Lack of resonance with the healer does not equate resistance.
Resonance is necessary for deep healing.
We all know this. Our gut knows it, always.
Letting go and being honest about our own limitations and lack of resonance with a client allows them to more easily find what they actually need. Reflecting the reality back to them gives them the confidence to trust themselves. Perhaps one can say, too, that until the client finds something more appropriate they can stay for whatever support might be offered in an open and honest context.
Letting people know they’re free to go is part of non-coercive, respectful care.
There is not any one method or person who will be appropriate for all clients. Different things will be appropriate for different people and then an individual may also find different things (and people) appropriate at different times.
Those who have a hard time resonating with care providers are sometimes in the greatest pain. Do not label them “difficult.” Do not label them “borderline” and “personality disordered.” It adds to their burden. We can be gentle and loving even to those we might not know how to help. Be honest about the fact that you don’t know how to help them if that is the case. Don’t blame them, that is an added trauma in a life that has likely already been trauma-filled.
May we all honor the mystery of our individual paths.
(re-posted from Beyond Meds)
Editor’s note: Monica Cassani is taking a A Social Media, News and Internet Fast (in large part). As part of this, she will not be checking or responding to comments to her blogs. We are happy to support her in this worthwhile time of reflection and recuperation, and pleased to be able to post the product of her reflections here and respond to comments as best we can on her behalf.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.