Thursday, January 24, 2013

Normalcy or Being Abnormal in Therapy

     We keep on acting as if people are not normal.  I have already discussed normality and universality - two terms that halfway disprove total uniqueness (and adding "normal" back into the equation) - so I won't go into them.
     Should counselors be trying to change someone's personality?  Should an individual seek that sort of permanent alteration?  I'm unsure.  While actions show normality and universality, thoughts trend more into the realm of the unique (most likely because actions are bordered by physics, whereas imagination is infinite depending on the mind).  This being the case, that one does not translate into the other 100% of the time, should we try to construct further barriers to true unique thought by instituting outside action?
     An example is probably in order.  Sometimes I get skittish around people.  To a degree, it may be due to genes and a possibility of depression in my ongoing family and lack of sociability when I was a child.  This feeling might be detrimental to the counseling environment.  Perhaps a mood swing takes me in the middle of a session.  What then?  Should I not seek to reverse this trend and create inside of myself a feeling of calm and self assurance?  Would this not provide an inhospitable environment for mood swings?
     The answer:  perhaps.  But what would I be giving up were I to undergo such a change?  Would I lose part of myself?  Again:  perhaps.  This is a tangential thought adhering itself to the main purpose of this idea.  I don't know how to change myself in this manner.  What I want to figure out is how to live with my behavior and thoughts and feelings.  Generalizing this more:  How does a therapist advise on their presenting behavior?  Do we ask them to stop it?  Mask it?  Let it out?  Obviously this depends on the behavior and should be assessed on an individual-by-individual basis, but still . . .
     I think it comes down to this:  Good advice to a client (for me) might sound something like this:  "I hear what you're saying and really what comes to mind is the topic of acceptable consequences.  Are you willing to be responsible for your behavior?  If you are, then perhaps it is 1) not too severe and 2) worth the energy put into it.  If you are not, then perhaps we can look into some techniques that will allow you to act a little differently in certain situations."
     The counselor must also assess the behavior for himself also.  If the client enjoys killing people and is totally OK with the repercussions, the statement above is defunct.  We must stick to our ethical guidelines.  Personality disorders and irrational thought have the ability to destroy such a statement of consquences.

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