Therapeutic Abuse

5 No-go Practices

From Episode 49:


Sadly, therapist are only humans, which means they are not perfect and will do mistakes and sometimes make wrong decisions and so on. This is pretty much unavoidable. We are all fallible.
Though your right to be ignorant stops as soon it harms other people or even worse can cause their death. You DO NOT play with human lives. I have a zero tolerance for that. Especially if you are in a position of power.
The 5 practices I will go into in a bit go from being wrong to being harmful for the patients. We start with wrong and then the other 4 are about being harmful to the patient.
That means we start with peddling, then we question if the past is irrelevant, that men don’t have feelings, the meaning of a person being a family member and how you have to be “y” if you are “x”.

The peddler
Let us start with something simple. Peddling. You, as a therapist, are in a position of power. People trust you. Which some take as an incentive to sell their stuff. Often to deeply desperate people.
Who would literally do anything to just escape their misery. So, if their therapist claims that this wonderful vitamin juice will give you back your energy and make you feel better again… how could they say no?
Even if they do not believe the peddler, that it will help them, they might oblige just to not fall in disgrace with their therapist. This actually makes you loose your license in some nations… and for a good reason!
It is an abuse of the patient therapist relationship and an abuse of power, which you have as a therapist. It is an absolute No-Go if your therapist tries to sell you anything.

The past is irrelevant
Second is one of my all time favorites: It is in the past therefor it doesn’t affect you. Get the f out of here. While it is true, that we shouldn’t be controlled by our past and/or live there, the past is definitely relevant.
Who we are is a mix of our hobbies, our past, our values, our choices and the like. Our past is what got us here, so it IS relevant. Quite significantly I would say. Though our past also doesn’t determine our future.
It doesn’t matter really how long it is in the past, if you have not taking actions to resolve it or handle it, then it is like a festering wound. Getting more and more infected over time and won’t heal.
You are not doomed by your past, but past untreated things WILL follow you forever.  Think about it: If something as simple as your first plane ride, first kiss, etc affected you, why not also the bad things?
As a therapist you REALLY should know better. Different fields of psychology deal with it. Development psychology for example. This is a complete no-go.

Men don’t have feelings
Third is one of my most hated ones: Men don’t have feelings. Apparently when you belong to the male gender, you become immune to all emotional damage. No depression, heartbreak, anxiety, etc. Sarcasm of course.
This is sadly enforced by several cultures. Where pictures of crying men or men showing vulnerability or the like, are met with insults, laughter and so on. Which is completely despicable and should never happen.
But it is even worse, if that behavior is shown by therapists. It is unprofessional, even if you believe something in that direction, and worse really harmful for the patient. And a complete and utter betrayal of trust.
It is one of the reason why men are more hesitant to seek help in psychological field or stop seeking help. I have had people in my surrounding reporting that sort of behavior and was the reason I started helping them.
It is bad enough if the mob culture has this sort of mentality, but a trained professional should know better. It is literally a part of the basics and part of several of the subjects we study as psychologist.
A complete and utter and obvious no-go.

But that person is family!
The fourth one is one hitting very close to home “But that person is family!”. Being related to me, doesn’t make you automatically Scott-free. It is sadly still a common sentiment, that the family can do no wrong.
People opening up about what horrendous things their family, especially their parents, had done, are often met with rejection, belittlement, denial, insults and the like.
Things along the line of“They are your parents, they maybe make mistakes but they have your best interest at heart”. This is even brought forward to people, who's parents sold them to other adults simply for greed.
And even a little girl was asked by the police, if she didn’t asked for interacting with her fathers private parts. These examples are just meant to show you, that there is no limit on how far people are going with this.
But even with not so extreme behaviors: If you don’t feel it is right, your opinion is important. In doubt, or as an exercise, replace all the peoples names with random names and write it all down. Then reread it.
If you don’t think the behavior is right, then being a family member doesn’t make it right. It is okay to stop interacting with people who make you miserable. You deserve better than that. No matter who they are.
A therapist needs to be a neutral person, we are there to help the other person deal with their problems. Our personal opinions needs to be cut back as much as possible in sessions. This sort of behavior is a clear no-go.

Because you are “x” you must be “y”
And last, but not the least, the fifth one is: “Because you are ‘x’ you must be ‘y’”. This has many, many sub categories, one of the biggest, that men don’t have feelings, I touched upon earlier.
But this category spans so much wider. If you are a female, you must want children or like pink. This doesn’t just include those things, but also behaviors and who you can and can’t be.
Being forced to live a life of something you are not is damaging to once self. You are forced to wear a mask or play a role that is contrary to who you are. And sooner or later you become nothing else than that.
It might seem minor in some cases, but not being able to be ourselves often causes depression and other psychological illnesses. Because this way other people control our lives instead of ourselves.
As a therapist the patients best interest should be our main goal, not reinforcing stereotypes. Therefor a clear no-go.