Friday, February 25, 2005

Be Honest with Others (but try it with yourself too!)

Oh how easy it is to be honest with others, but when it comes to being honest with our self, that’s a different story.

I must say I came to this conclusion on my trip home last night from Abilene. I had had the pleasure of spending the day on Wed. rather leisurely with some of my dear friends, all who happen to reside in one residence (which is GREAT when you’re being lazy and just spending the day chillin’, but still wanna see your friends).

So during the day I was lucky enough to get to have some great “chat” time with one of my favorite people to just small talk with. It was on our trip home from the grocery store that we had our conversation that got me thinking again while I was in the car alone on my drive back to Dallas and thus inspired this blog. So here is what we were talking about…

She was telling me how she had a new interest in possibly becoming a pre-marital counselor. Immediately when she told me this my opinion on marriage therapists came to mind. I’ve always had this opinion on Marriage and Family Therapist or pre-martial counselors, whichever the case may be, that I think they should be married them self before they go off trying to tell other people (couples) what they should and shouldn’t do (AKA give them advice). I just have always had this personal belief that if I was married and going to one of these folks for therapy I would feel as if they wouldn’t be able to fully understand what my spouse and myself were going through nor be able to fully help us if they them self had never even experienced marriage. I would be thinking “how could they possibly understand and relate to us?” “They don’t know what it is “really” like!” Needless to say, I would definitely be looking for a wedding ring when I walked into my session!

So then I obviously shared my opinion on this matter with my friend. And I’m sure it went something like this: “I’ll be honest with you....I think a pre-martial counselor should be someone who is married…[blah blah blah]”

Yeah, that’s right, me being “honest” with someone. You know, I’ve noticed myself saying “I’ll be honest with you…” a LOT lately. I have really begun to openly share my opinion on matters with folks, and you know, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, as long as I’m willing to listen and respect their opinion on the matter as well, even if it doesn’t agree with mine (and I normally do respect them in this matter, so that’s good).

So then I get to thinking about this whole “being married in order to be a martial counselor” business and you know what, if I honestly believe that, I have to be honest with myself and apply that opinion to other similar situations—AKA my personal career preference.

So let’s see…I want to be a therapist, a counselor, a person who deals with people who come to me for help. I’m especially interested, right now, in working with individuals who suffer from depression and/or anxiety. So then does this mean I need to be someone who has experienced both of these to work with these types of individuals? Granted, depression and anxiety are so prevalent in today’s society that most likely a therapist HAS dealt with one or the other at some point in his/her life, but still, it isn’t like he/she is going to be wearing anything, such as a ring, that will let the individual coming in for counseling KNOW if their therapist will be able to “relate” to their situation. Or even more, what about a therapist working with schizophrenics. Is it important that that therapist have been diagnosed as having schizophrenia during his/her lifetime in order to be able to “relate” to his/her client?

Sure, don’t think I can’t rationalize to justify why I should be able to be a therapist who works with the mentally ill, but my friend who isn’t married shouldn’t be able to do pre-martial therapy. How easy is it to say, “Well, you obviously can’t have someone who is mentally ill try to help someone else who is mentally ill, because that just doesn’t make sense.” Or, as I even alluded to earlier, “Well, depression or anxiety is something that just about everyone has experienced at one point or another during their life, so that therapist should be able to relate on one level or another.”

Yes, rationalization is a defense mechanism we all fall victim to SOOOO easily, and I’ve become so aware of it in the recent past.

So, I look back on my friend’s response to my “opinion.” She said, “yeah, well I see what you’re saying, but I see it as maybe I wouldn’t have experienced it, but I will have studied it and learned what to tell these people in reference to their problems.”



I guess that’s true. As hard as it is to swallow our pride and have to question our opinion on a matter, especially when you have been set in that view on that matter for a long period of time, it is tough (I’m not gonna lie). And to be honest with you (HA…I bet you liked that), if I am to get married at one point, and find myself getting some sort of marriage counseling, I will still look for a ring, but I now I will be more willing to accept the fact that just because I don’t see a ring doesn’t mean I should get up and walk out. I’ll do my best to give them a fair chance! ;)


Amanda (McGuirk) Basch said...

Although I totally understand where you're coming from about the "marriage counselors should be married" opinion, I think that some of the best counselors are those who have not experienced what they are counseling about. They have a different perspective than the client does and may be better able to challenge any disabling beliefs that the client has about him/herself. Personally, if I visited a counselor for marital problems and he or she had experienced the same feelings/emotions, etc., I would feel further justified in what I already felt, which wouldn't help the situation that had led me there in the first place. I think that sometimes all the client needs is a different perspective on the situation. Makes me think that you'd be great for the career path you're going for! Just food for thought--I may be crazy! :)

Jennifer said...

Yeah, I read the first part, and I was thinking, "Whoa. So if a therapist is counseling a homosexual that means he should've been in a homosexual relationship or whatever at some point, too?" But then I read the rest of your blog and I was like, "Oh, ok." :) So yeah, I don't think you necessarily need to have experienced an issue to be able to counsel it.

Holly said...

I, too, at first read this post and was like "hmm... so I would have had to be this in order to do that? Hmm."... but you fixed that quite nicely in the end! I agree that it is sometimes difficult to be honest with ourselves. I'm sure you've heard me say "everyone's a hypocrite in some form or fashion" -- Often, when people are truly strong enough in character to admit that they were wrong about something, or that they had never really thought of something in a different way, they get bashed for having "changed their opinion." People will call them "wishy washy" hypocrites who are always changing their stances and saying one thing and doing another. Granted there are "real" hypocrites out there, but once a person (mainly in the public eye) is labeled as having changed their stance (or "opened their mind" to new ideas) it tends to stick with them for a long, long time. I think it's an honorable thing to admit never having thought of something in a certain way. When John Kerry ran for President, people bashed him for having passionately protested the Vietnam War as a young man and then going back, as an adult, and admitting that he was just a young foolish guy that didn't really know much of what he was saying back then. Wouldn't it be terrible if all 50 year olds were expected to keep the same beliefs they had had when they were 21? The mind is constantly learning and constantly willing to change if we allow it to. The strange part is, I think there are more people in the world whose minds are actually closed to the concept of open-mindedness. It's easier and more time-efficient to go on believing what we've always thought was to be true. Great post!

Anonymous said...

Great post Kim. I love your openness and continuous honesty. I miss you girl, but I appreciate knowing that whenever I read your blog, I know it's truly you talking.