In a mental health specialist’s mind

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Quite often some of my clients would ask how I manage to do a specific activity or how I am so good at something specific, while they often don’t manage to complete properly their daily tasks. Through their questions I realize some of their deeper thoughts: They probably think that things in my life come quite easy, fast and somewhat “magically”. Quite a few times they seem to expect from me to share with them a smart idea or an amazing trick that could automatically fix everything and make their lives happier, easier and more successful.

When I respond that I don’t have any magic tricks to suggest in order them to have super fast positive results in their lives, they look at me disappointed but at the same time relieved since they realize that they are talking to a normal person and not a weird superhuman being. As time passes I will be asked again about things that most of the times could not be done by human beings but by super-heroes. Each of these moments I should clarify that our expectations from psychotherapy should be realistic and not excessive.

After this reminding note I think I should talk about some misunderstandings that already some good colleagues have tried to resolve:

During our studies we were not taught to guess human thoughts. I know that some people still think in that way and they consider psychologists as people with special talents! I can assure you that studying Psychology is something completely different than studying magic! We wish it was, but it’s not.

– We don’t know tricks that can make you feel good. That happens when someone studies Psychology and not magic! We cannot cure you in a few minutes with a proper gospel, but honest conversations between us usually help. Through them we can firstly train you to deal better with your thoughts, emotions and periods of crisis in your lives.

– We don’t have a good answer for everything. Usually we can suggest alternative options and ways to solve your problems but even that doesn’t happen all the time. There will be some moments that we will also feel lost about options we could share with you regarding a problem. There are also some moments that we have to take a minute with ourselves in order to handle a situation that took place during a session. We know enough but obviously not everything. We keep learning together with you.

– We cannot tell you how to live your lives. Yes, we discuss with you important facts and details of your life, but we cannot – and we must not – tell you if you should marry or break up, having a child or not, moving to another country or stay where you are. Based on the information we take from you we will discuss with you positives and negatives of each option you have in your life but we absolutely cannot make a choice for you. So, every time you ask us what we would do if we were in your shoes we feel obliged to stay silent to avoid harming you. You see it is your lives we are talking about and you will live with the consequences of your choices. Try to remember that no matter how good ideas we can share with you, you are called to apply every idea by yourselves.

– We don’t aim to become millionaires of our profession. If we wanted something like that probably we wouldn’t have studied anything related to Psychology. There are some mental health specialists that earned enough from their work, but honestly there are so few of them. Moreover they probably didn’t earn much by doing counselling or psychotherapy so they wrote books, organized lectures and participated in radio and TV shows.

We are not perfect, neither super-heroes just because we do this for living. We are humans too and we often have similar problems to solve like you have. We feel more or less like you, we keep making mistakes, we experienced failures many times during our lives. We are not idols, we are your helpers to your personal journey of finding your true selves.

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