March 21, 2015 at 2:15 am 4 comments

Note: This is sarcasm/satire

In one of my UU discussion groups, a couple of times I and others with mental health issues have discussed the support (or lack thereof) in our congregations. Fortunately in mine I feel pretty well supported and I encounter other folks who admit to having similar issues. It probably helps to have a community that tends to be into that…science thing instead of “oh you need to be magically healed/prayed over/exorcised etc.” One suggestion I made to others was networking with UU’s who work in helping or social service professions to get help. Another UU who is a (now retired therapist) kept chiming in and complaining that other congregants and clergy were always asking her for free therapy, and she comes to church to get a break from all that stuff. OK, I get that people should not be continually asked for free professional services- perhaps it should not be treated any differently than asking an accountant you go to church with to do your taxes for free. But still, I was kinda like, umm shouldn’t that be another thread? The No More Free Therapy Sessions Dammit! thread, rather than the I’m Mentally Ill and Some People in my Congregation Don’t Get it thread. Just seemed like there was some un-examined privilege going on there. Also, as a Millennial, I must admit that I didn’t understand the “retired” part. I guess I do have this vague recollection that some people actually stayed employed long enough at a place to gain this legendary thing called…retirement benefits? I’d ask my Baby Boomers parents to explain, but I know they too are pretty baffled by it. I mean, maybe if you work for the federal government for a long time. Damn union-card carrying socialists!

But y’know I thought more about it. I guess I should try having a little more compassion. After all, there is so much stigma in being a psychotherapist. They face discrimination in hiring, housing and all sorts of social services. They are rejected by their families after they discover their true nature as a psychologist. They lose friends after they try to psychoanalyze and diagnose them. They have tons of student loans to pay off. It’s a highly, deeply misunderstood calling that is sometimes criminalized and blamed for mass shootings. Sometimes therapists have their children taken away- just because of their job title! Even if they are undergoing treatment- err I mean continuing education, they may be told that they are not qualified to keep their children unless some expert from the state comes and evaluates them. They may not be allowed to buy guns, due to their past history as psychologists!  And if they don’t subscribe to the accepted popular academic opinions about trendy labels like childhood bipolar disorder and such, they can be labeled “Noncompliant” and refused continued treatment, I mean err continuing education. Then no one will take any of their past work seriously! The worst part is, they get all this heaped upon them, but none of it was their choice! They were born that way! Their brains were just wired or chemically balanced in such a way that they had to becomes psychologists and therapists.

(In all seriousness, I am grateful for the good therapists out there- the ones who listen and make good allies and even the occasional psychiatrist that realizes that he/she/zie is a mere mortal. It is really hard work that they do! And they *do* have tons of student loan debt to pay off!)


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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. brentblonigan  |  March 21, 2015 at 4:50 am

    If someone was a therapist that I thought was attempting to analyze me, I think I would resent that. I have encountered a lot of individuals in the role of therapist who should not be in that position. I really that credentials do not mean anything.

    I am not sure about the stigma about being a therapist. I know there is still a lot of stigma with being “dis-eased.”

    • 2. caelesti  |  March 21, 2015 at 7:42 am

      That was satire…which is a form of therapy for me! (replace therapist in that paragraph with mentally ill person)

      • 3. brentblonigan  |  March 21, 2015 at 7:44 am

        ROFL – I generally have little respect for many therapists. I think the true value or help comes from peer to peer. It is an equal equation when it is peer to peer. What do you thing?

  • 4. caelesti  |  June 2, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    I think well-trained & empathetic therapists can be helpful- especially if they primarily regard you as a human being rather than “Patient #476 with diagnoses XYZ and treatment history ABC” Peers can also be helpful, especially if they have a broader understanding beyond their own experience. I’d like to see more collaboration in treatment between professionals & clients, and more education about both mainstream & alternative mental health in self-help communities.


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