Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Sense of Humor

     Is a sense of humor a good thing? It is an appropriate response in some situations, but an impolite one in others. That is the easy answer to the question. but the overarching, more black and white question still exists: When it comes down to it, the only possible answers being yes or no, is humor a force for good or ill? I almost write evil instead of ill, but didn't. These two words mean very different things. Evil categorizes a construct as abrasively negative; an abstract looking-to-do-one-harm phenomenon. Ill is more general than this, allowing for negative externalities, but not giving them an origin or starting identity. It can be passive or accidental.
     A person with humor can use it to draw attention to himself as well as away from himself. He or she uses it as a tool. One must ask himself if this implies that the intention of use of the tool is good or ill instead of the tool itself. After all, a sickle might be used to harvest grain or hurt an individual. But a gun or sword has really only one function.
     But is a person without humor better off than a person with? It's important here to say "better off" than "better." I think that humor is such a main part of current society that a person with no humor would experience very potent intrinsic and extrinsic anxiety to conform. This might lead to some kind of self-destruct.
     Humor is a great pressure-release, especially when heard. I think that most people, when discussing humor, mention only the comedian. But what about the audience? Humor heard has the ability to decrease anxiety and depression levels.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Difference Between Depth Psychotherapy and Life Skills Therapy

     There is a distinct difference between deep psychotherapy and life skills teaching. Perhaps differently put: There is a distinct difference between psychotherapy and counseling. I don't want to demean the counseling profession, but I think that the difference in training and job placement show this.
     A counselor is entrusted with certain clients. These clients tend to have undramatic symptoms. By no means am I saying that counselors don't treat  clients that are very "ill." What I am suggesting, which is no less salacious, is that the level of therapy is not as deep as many clinical practitioners. I am not adding psychiatry here because, I have heard and experienced in a number of situations, their lack of actual therapeutic technique is large. Some practitioners, like psychologists, have the training to go deeper with a client and really help them to understand themselves at a much deeper level. It seems to me that most counselor operate at the level of psycho-education - one that does not demand the time or training required of depth-based therapies.
     As far as environmental differences are concerned, the situations that these two groups find themselves in can be very different. Counselors find themselves in many different situations ranging from D&A to family, etc. I think that clinical psychologists/psychotherapists ten to see either the worst of the worst (i.e. those that society has cast out) or relatively normal clients in outpatient/private/voluntary settings.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Happiness For All, All the Time

     I think that a lot of people have a general misconception about the make-up of the populace. Many people want everybody to be happy and smiling. They think that this would lead to a better world. Would it? Is this what the individuals want? is this how the world should be? Is it a therapist's job to help? is this ethical?
     Simply put, I think that every person has the right, ethically, to be happy or unhappy. It's interesting, because even the word happy is subjective. Sometimes being angry is very positive. Better said: Someone can be happily angry! They need to expel/communicate/show that anger. Some people revel in being depressed, as if this is their main mode of expression. And that's OK! As long as they aren't impinging on someone else's happiness, then they can behave as they see fit.
     The world would be much  more boring if everyone were stereo-typically happy. Sure, there wouldn't be war, but the lack of diversity in emotion would lead to a lack of diversity in thought and behavior. It almost follows that this homogeneity of affect could depress people. So, to answer the first posed question - no, I don't think that the world would be a better place.
     To some degree I think I've already answered the second question. It's true that one would not know what happiness was without sadness, anger, or melancholy. So, in effect, happiness would cease to exist. Back to the question: It's hard for me to believe that a lack of diversity of emotion would be valued. This would mean that everything in everyone's life goes well (which is impossible) or that they are a master of their own personal emotional status.
     I think that it is a therapist's job to help people learn to control themselves, to keep their "stuff" within arm's reach, not letting get it all get out and affect others. This could translate into greater societal change many years down the road. I think that it's also important to mention that most people can do this to some degree. They have the ability to self-regulate. True, things can get away from them and touch their families (who can also be within arm's reach), but hopefully those relationships are compassionate and forgiving enough to deal with it.
     I do not think that it is ethical to try to change clients. It's just not our job. Our job is to help the client understand themselves enough to allow the change to occur, if wanted. This type of treatment is deep therapy at its purest. No single technique or type of psychotherapy can achieve this. Fortunately or unfortunately, this type of change normally takes time and a good set of tools. Clients must choose to change themselves. We cannot force it. There is no mold that we should be pushing them into. I think that that is a main problem in current strategies in psychotherapy.
     I made a point in a previous paragraph that requires a sentence or two of elaboration. Everyone being happy would lead, most likely, to depression. If this is in fact true, then a world that is only happy is almost, by definition, unsustainable. It's impossible for people to be happy forever or to be happy constantly.