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Petar Sardelich, LMFT/PT/MAC View Entire Blog
Therapy, Counseling, Mental Health- Things That Will Put Me OUT of a Job
5/29/2012
My last piece is begging for a follow up. If there's things that put me in a job, there should be some things that will put me out of one. Ideas, principles, behaviors that clients do that get them and keep them out of our offices, clinics, & hospitals. In all fairness, as with all professions, there's arguably some things we don't agree on or see a little differently, but if we're really endeavoring to be socially responsible and progressively-minded about our responsibilities, I think we ought to be transparent about some of these things.

Should mention where these ideas come from. One day at a hospital I was hired to create dual diagnosis programs at, it dawned on me that there were a lot of suggestions that most clinicians of all types gave to clients of all diagnoses/problems to be helpful. I created a beginning list of these as I saw them, and asked different psychiatrists, therapists, social workers, nurses, etc to add/change/delete parts of the list. After compiling 60 or 80 different items or so, we began using this as a resource tool for the clients. The list below is some of those ideas, but am leaving some of them out for brevity's sake.

As with my last blog, would suggest that these might take deeper explanation and guidance, and hence, some of that work is beyond this medium. That said though, I think that some of these ideas are extraordinarily useful (despite their age... ;-p ), and can be applied a lot of places. Not an exhaustive list, but as a start...

Knowing who we are and how we are is one of the most important things- and arguably the basis for dealing with a lot of our problems.
Have a "congruent affect" (affect is "feeling" or "emotion" in this context)... let your outsides match your insides.
Learn how to identify feelings, and share them with supportive/healthy people in ways that are easy to understand.
Don't treat all feelings as facts.
Have "boundaries". Know where we each "start and stop" mentally, emotionally, "spiritually", and physically.
Eat healthy, exercise, regulate sleep.
Remove thoughts/behaviors that put distance between us and us, us and others, or are used as simple distractions.
We have to "have" something to "let go" of it. This arguably applies to how we feel.
Mindfulness.
Using critical thinking. Skepticism, defining terms, consideration of alternate interpretations, considering how an idea might not work/go wrong, resisting oversimplification/generalizing, comparing/contrasting with other people's ideas...
Have a "resource group"... people with whom we exchange ideas, get support, do critical thinking with etc that have experience and/or education with the things we struggle with.
Treat happiness as an inside job.
Avoiding self-medicating with drugs, food, alcohol, shopping, gambling, sex, TV, etc.
Be self-supporting through our own contributions, mentally, emotionally, "spiritually", and physically.
Don't just read literature related to our problems and difficulties- actually try the ideas contained.
Give up comparing our insides with other people's outsides.
Delay gratification.
Know and work on our "issues".
Stop trying to control other people, places, and things.

Again, this is a painfully truncated list, none are a substitute for working with a professional for learning how to do them if they are going to be useful. My experience though, is that my clients who take up these things, with a pro, have a pretty common experience of feeling and behaving better themselves. In some ways, it's hard to imagine doing treatment without these things. Of course, a lot of these are hard to do, but not impossible, and easier if made practical- things we can measure and point at. Would love to hear ideas from other folk about things that they think are fairly indispensable, and might work for a lot of folk in a lot of different circumstances...