Sunday, April 12, 2015

The lenses fell out of your glasses

I am having a hard time getting licensed in my destination state.  Counselors, apparently, eat their own rather than save their turf wars for social workers.  While Colorado accepted me from Ohio, in 2001, “as is” – I had only to take a jurisprudence (counseling ethics) exam – for the State of _______, an accredited graduate program, twenty years' intimate client work with no malpractice suits and a constant stream of women clients who gussy up to see me* aren't enough to give me standing.  I am considered by the punctilious panel known as the Board to be under-equipped.

Equipped, though, I am: with aggravation.

It may come down to education: a couple basic courses that were not required when I was a student.

This brings up the question: How is one assessed to be a good therapist?  The National Counselor Clinical Exam (NCMHCE) is as acute a determiner of quality as would be a panel of etymologists judging a novel by the cumulative Scrabble® point-value of its words.  (See footnote to blog post  Psychoanalyst candidates (the Freudian school) must go through years of their own on-the-couch analysis to earn their prestigious profession.  But Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s exposé of the money-making cynicism, sleaze and hidebound dogmatism of that process seriously dethrones it as a filter for quality.**

Psychology aficionados and students hear about the “great” names, the hall-of-famers of theory and therapy – Freud, Ferenczi, B. F. Skinner, Albert Ellis, Carl Rogers, Fritz Perls.  But I think we must pause long and wonder what built their statues.  Watch these last three in the classic Gloria sessions.***  Gaucheness and buffoonery aside – that severed babbling head of Ellis wants to pinch your bowels and chase you, like a Ringwraith,**** into your dreams at night – I believe we see little but death in the water, tedious conversations that are not moving, life changing.

No one, really, can crown a passable, good or great therapist, but for the individual client.  And even that verdict loses its terra firma when the definition of “good” must contain self-medi­ca­tion, self-soothing.  If we condone her happy thinking –

By end of session client had reached the enlightening but troubling insights that she ‘lives in her head’ – her preferred thoughts of forgiveness and acceptance – and is out of touch with her deeper, felt-sense knowledge of herself; and that she may prefer to stay in the self-delusional place. 
– we are leaving her to her pre-therapy state.  Yet she may feel we have helped her, feel relieved.  I interpret and connect the dots across a woman’s childhood to show her how justified, how right she is to dislike her small children.  Now she feels seen, cared about, vindicated.  But I suspect she’ll only back so far into her cold and abandoned past, and intrapsychically will work some soothing détente between her “child” and her children.  She’ll remain partly in the adult clouds.

Nevertheless, good work exists, though "the good's" internal definition is always moving and changing inside us.  I can guarantee the State of _______ that I have a fairly good handle on it.  But I’m afraid they want me to learn more about alcohol, and maybe the Somalis.

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* Hey Man, the front desk ladies have informed me of this, as the women have said it to them.

** Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, Final Analysis – The Making and Unmaking of a Psychoanalyst, Harper Perennial, 1991.

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Comments are welcome, but I'd suggest you first read "Feeling-centered therapy" and "Ocean and boat" for a basic introduction to my kind of theory and therapy.