|Alan Sroufe Anxiety Clinical Excellence Diets Linda Bacon Future of Psychotherapy Narcissistic Clients Couples Men in Therapy Ethics Attachment Theory Mary Jo Barrett Couples Therapy Mindfulness The Future of Psychotherapy Gender Issues William Doherty Clinical Mastery Wendy Behary CE Comments Challenging Cases Attachment Trauma David Schnarch Great Attachment Debate Brain Science Etienne Wenger Mind/Body Symposium 2012 Community of Excellence|
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While this may be wondrous for our self esteem, Olds and Schwartz say it's a bad model for navigating the real world. Although therapists aren't supposed to chatter about their own troubles, other humans typically demand equal time. The consequence may be that all other relationships "look like they fall short." Patients may circle back to therapists as their only relationship that's "good enough," yet "good enough" isn't fully satisfying.
In fact, according to Olds and Schwartz, this asymmetry in the consulting room may not be the best thing for therapists either. The temptation is that therapists will come to view themselves as selfless "healers," heroically struggling on their patients' behalf. Meanwhile, therapists' own real-world "relationships can sometimes pale besides the intensity of time spent with patients who ask that [they] fight valiantly alongside them to transform their lives." Of course, in theory, therapists "subscribe to the idea of tying patients to a rich social network." Nevertheless, Olds and Schwartz suspect that many therapists "may be reluctant to encourage and reinforce real-life relationships when both their livelihoods and self-esteem might suffer."
This is an intriguing, cautionary critique, for which Olds and Schwartz, who a dozen years ago wrote a book on overcoming loneliness, offer no real evidence, yet they're inviting therapists to examine their therapeutic consciences. Is there a downside to being too devoted a therapist? We're all subject to self-deception and cognitive dissonance, therapists included. Olds and Schwartz ask therapists to untangle their motivations and clinical procedures, as if looking through a one-way mirror at their own practices. They should ask themselves: am I helping this patient reintegrate into a larger, human community? or am I satisfied with the coziness of our relationship? Can I be doing something else? Does economic self-interest blind me to what's best for my patients?
Loneliness vs. Depression
We all know that "lack of community" is a problem; by now, it's become a sociological clichŽ. Of course, that doesn't mean it isn't a real issue, but some problems are the topic of so much commentary that little new can be said about them. So what do you say when you write a book about loneliness? Get out and join the human race? If you can't do it alone, find some professional help? All true—and potentially, a big yawn.