|Topics - Recovery|
|Written by Dave Turo-Shields, ACSW, LCSW|
I received a disturbing email this week. It's one of many on the same theme which I have received over time, so I knew it was time to address this issue. Here's the story.
A young lady's boyfriend went to see a doctor for depression . She shared with me that the doctor apparently said he has "Level 8 Depression" and that he spends too much time with his girlfriend. The girlfriend states she sends him daily emails for support of his depression and they date on the weekends and that's it. She wanted to know my opinion.
I explained, first of all, that there is no such thing as "Level 8 Depression." And, secondly, I had entirely too little information to be making any judgment about their relationship. If the information I received is accurate, shame on that doctor. No wonder so many are cynical about the therapy and psychiatry profession. Good golly!
Here's a great example of the kind of client I would want you to be. I will call him Sam. Sam and I haven't met yet, but he emailed me locally from here in Indianapolis where I practice and asked me to give him a call. I called him. He said he was interested in marriage counseling. We proceeded to talk for about minutes. First we had the usual small talk to warm up the conversation, then he asked about my credentials and licensing. I explained that I am state licensed and nationally certified. Then he asked how much experience I had, which is years. Later in the conversation he asked what made me an "expert" in marriage counseling, what model I use and what success couples were experiencing through counseling with me.
These were absolutely excellent questions! You should never be afraid to ask vital questions like these. Sam apologized once or twice for asking so many questions. My response each time was that I was flattered to answer all his questions and I told him that I would do exactly the same thing were I him.
Would you go see a podiatrist for a heart condition or a veterinarian who fancied himself to be a pulmonary specialist? Of course not, but if you are not your own advocate and sleuth that may be just what happens when it comes to your mental health.
Finally, Sam asked what I thought about seeing a couple from a different cultural background. I told him that as long as they didn't mind teaching me cultural customs I may be ignorant of, that I would be fine. Then I asked him how that would be for them. By that time we had talked for nearly twenty minutes. We had established a rapport. He said, "Based on how our conversation has gone thus far, I believe you're the right fit for us."
The only sad part about this story is that is doesn't occur nearly enough. I wished more clients would call or email and interview me just like Sam did. Some therapists never even talk to clients before the first interview. Someone else may do the intake for them. If a therapist...