Finding the Right Lever


Finding the Right Lever

A primer for Changing the World

By William Doherty

November/December 2004


As you read this, the emotional roller coaster of the polarizing 2004 election is presumably behind us, even if the impact of the election's outcome will be with us for a long time to come. Whatever the results, one thing is clear: it was a grueling campaign that riveted the attention of most of the clinicians I know. Many of us talked politics every day for months, some hosted fundraisers, others devoted long hours to working on the candidates' campaigns (this being the therapy field, I leave it to you to determine which of the candidates received the bulk of this free empathy and support). Nevertheless, in the past, once the electoral votes have been tallied, even the most engaged of us have been content to return to the relative tranquility of our practices and let the problems of the wider world recede in our awareness. This time, however, something else seems to be stirring within our field.

Despite our ingrown professional culture and frequent sense of pessimism about the direction of the body politic, the hunger to make a difference in the larger world actually seems to be growing stronger. It's becoming clear that there's too much at stake for us to retreat into the refuge of our practices again. As a profession, it's time to recognize the importance of our roles as both citizens and therapists, which, unfortunately, is something that our training has done little to prepare us for.

Like most therapists, I went into this profession not just to help my…

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