It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Fun*Run Time

It's ALREADY that time of year again: The ADAPT Fun*Run for Disability Rights is April 22nd 2012. Maryland's fundraising goal is $8,000 this year. Yes, that's right, $8,000

Donate $1! Donate $10! Donate $100! Donate $1,000! JUST DONATE so we can FREE OUR PEOPLE! I thank you very much for your support!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Looking for a Psychiatrist/Therapist

I read a NYTimes article the other day, Where Can the Doctor Who’s Guided All the Others Go for Help?, about psychiatrists who need their own psychiatrists, written by a psychiatrist. Some of the concern I understand, some I do not. If you live in a small area and most around are former students / patients this could be awkward. Not everyone has that problem, not everyone teaches, but here is a problem much more common, not just related to psychiatrists, but to everyone:

There is also the factor of experience ... "I might have some trouble going to younger colleagues. It’s hard to understand the issues that come up in the course of a life cycle unless you’ve lived it yourself.”

Dr. Rachel Seidel, a psychoanalyst and psychiatrist in Cambridge, said that when people feel vulnerable, “we want someone with more insight than we have.”

“It’s a paradox,” she added. “Do I have to have gone through what you’ve gone through in order to be empathic to you? And yet, I’d have a preference for someone who’s been around longer.”

So far in my life I haven't come across this issue myself. I'm only 24 and it should be another year or 2 before my peers are beginning to be credentialed, but I'm not sure it's all that much an issue. Dealing with family dynamics is dealing with family dynamics. Dealing with depression is dealing with depression. Prescribing meds, big deal. The issue of sex (in both senses of the word) is much more of an issue to me.

When I was looking for a therapist I told the person I'd asked for a referral from it didn't matter to me whether it was a male or a female. I'd had both before, my most immediate past therapist is a male, I have high standards and I just cared that they were good. Told her I trusted her. Turns out I was wrong. I realized while I was comfortable discussing my resistance to dating with him I never would have been comfortable discussing my sex life with him. I'm only comfortable having someone who is committed to being a long term therapist as I know they, like botox, are something I will always have a need for, and this is something I will (hopefully) be discussing with this one. He's also old, about 40 years older then me, but that was not the issue. I'd have a problem discussing this with a younger male and would not have a problem discussing this with either a young or seasoned female professional.

The issue of life experience is something that ended up almost being an issue for me, as I ended up trying to find any reason I could not to like her (didn't work). Why I would do that I would rather not discuss, but makes total sense in hindsight. I was scared of going to someone with no experience with disability. While I agree that depression is depression, the route cause of depression can vary, and in my case the route cause of my depression can quite often be intimately tied to my physical disability. Would she really "get it?" Mentioned past therapist was my one and only disabled therapist and while I always skirted the issue, I knew kids stare at him all the time just as they stare at me all the time. He was firm in telling me that this is a non issue and that the only issue is the type of therapy someone uses. He was right.

All therapists should have cultural competence. Should an Asian client not see a white therapist? Should a Jewish client not see a Christian therapist? Why can't a 52 year old client be helped by a 32 year old therapist, although not a cultural issue? Why can't a crip be helped by an AB therapist? That is a cultural issue. What matters I think is openmindness on the part of both the client and the therapist and the treatment methodology / personality of the therapist. Can you handle a therapist with a dark sense of sarcasm, for example? Can you handle a therapist who answers all of your questions with "what do you think", or will you want to strangle them?

Would I be able to help someone with marital counseling at 24? No, but I haven't been through training yet so maybe I could. Could I help someone with parenting issues? I think so. I was a kid, I have parents, I remember my childhood well, and I have a lot of training in child development. Family dynamics are family dynamics. Observe yourself, observe your friends / relatives dynamics too...

What happened with my experience / cultural issue? Well, #1 it turns out that most of what I am dealing with are people issues, not disability issues, related to dynamics and diagnosis. #2 Right about when I started with her is when I began a total paradigm shift in my conceptualization of disability. So I guess I've just taken her on my journey with me. That's the way it should be. I decided at some point that one of my callings in life is to educate people about disability and that I had no problem educating her too. One of the greatest things I can do in life is to make it easier for her to help someone else to get to where I am, to be OK with their disability. My views, I think, aren't so mainstream and she's been as openminded as a person can be. I don't think she's ever had a problem understanding where I'm coming from. In fact, she gets it so easily, sometimes it weirds me out. My psychiatrist, not there. Frustrating, but he doesn't need to be. In today's society a psychiatrist's job is focus on brain chemical levels, not to guide you through paradigm shifts. Just MHO.


Reas Kroicowl said...

As I'm years past the expiration date on 24, I can tell you this: I, too, want a therapist with experience. I, too, want a therapist who is at at least my own age and has been in the field for at least a decade.

And I know what it's like to hear that. How devastating it is to have that degree, that theoretical knowledge, and not the years in the field to back it up. I was so frustrated when I had just graduated with my bachelors and couldn't initially find a job. They all told me the same thing: I needed more experience. They were right.

The fact of the matter is this: a person's experiences shape them. And with experience comes knowledge. Unfortunately, gathering the experience and thus knowledge (of all flavors) takes time. There's no other substitute. God help me for saying this: It will make sense when you're older.

(I'm so sorry for that last sentence. I'm shuddering. I can't believe that came out of *me*)

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