Nightmare in the Aisle


A Therapist Caught in the Act of Being Herself

March/April 2002


I live in a small city in Upstate New York, and most people in town know somebody who knows me, my husband (a clinical psychologist) or one of our four engaged and energetic sons. My husband and I are both active in our town's small Jewish community and have private practices; I teach family therapy at the local university; and all of our sons are heavily involved in athletics, drama and school social life. So it's no wonder that I sometimes cross paths with my clients in town--if not at the supermarket, then on the athletic field, at the hairdresser's or at temple.

Despite all this, I managed, for two decades, to maintain (in my own mind, at least) a fire wall between my personal and professional lives. In the consulting room and the classroom, I worked to present an air of calm worldliness, an expert with the answers to all sorts of painful therapeutic and family dilemmas. I was at pains not to look like someone who would lose it with her kids or yell or scream--which is precisely what I sometimes did when I got home to a house full of hungry boys ranging in age from 4 to 16.

Then, late one spring afternoon four years ago, I walked into Wegman's, the huge supermarket on the east side of Syracuse. (It's the kind of place with a dry cleaner and a cafe as well as acres of gorgeous fruits, breads and vegetables.) With me was my youngest son: 4 years old, tired and whiny. I'd been teaching and seeing clients all day. There was nothing in the house for dinner. I…

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Topic: Ethics



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1 Comment

Sunday, October 30, 2016 10:26:53 PM | posted by Ursula
This was a great article about parenting until the last paragraph. UGH, ugh, ugh that you would say that your son does something that "makes him look retarded." Do you mean this to say he looks like a person with an intellectual disability? If so, why is that a category of person you think it's okay to say that about? Or do you mean that he looks foolish, silly, or stupid? If so, and you are using the word retarded, that's just straight up gross and unacceptable in professional writing. I really hope that you are not joking with your clients about people who are "retarded." Negative stereotypes towards people with intellectual disabilities are a heart wrenching form of discrimination. In addition, you never know who your client loves. I'd encourage you to learn more about the "spread the word to end the word" campaign and to get it together with your language and speech.

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