Is It Good To Use the Same Mental Health Therapy Provider As Someone You Know?

Many people these days, during the pandemic especially, are suffering from stress, exhaustion, loneliness, anxiety and sadness. It’s understandable. Everyone struggles with something. Everyone is going through something hard!

Many choose to turn to a therapist for support. Sometimes, they ask around and find out who their friends or family members see. Maybe their friend tells them the name of a super therapist. This seems like a fine idea at first, but is it?

When two friends or family members see the same therapist, it is not a good idea for many reasons. It becomes especially problematic when the relationships are adversarial (like an ex). It creates a weird triangle.

Trust

The therapeutic relationship requires a whole lot of trust. Like any doctor-patient or therapist-client relationship in any field, trust is crucial. Psychologists and therapists are not treating broken limbs, though. They are dealing with the brain, the most complicated and complex organ of all. They are dealing with vulnerable clients who open up to them with very private details of their lives. The weird triangle can make people more vulnerable.

We are dealing with broken hearts and traumatized brains. Some people have a harder time with trust, like those who are going through relational issues. Or, those who have suffered abuse.

Confidentiality

Therapists and psychologists are bound by confidentiality ethics (HIPAA). Confidentiality is key, but aren’t there other important ethical factors to consider? Are there factors that therapists overlook?

So often, therapists assume that the only issue is confidentiality. Total privacy is not the only factor that makes a therapeutic alliance great!

Neutrality and Loyalty

The therapeutic relationship is a sacred one. Like trust and confidentiality, neutrality and loyalty are paramount. Without these, it is not possible to have a good alliance and grow in therapy. It will be hard to talk about relationship issues about the friend, family member or ex-spouse who is also seeing your therapist.

The therapist can develop subconscious bias, even if he or she does not try. Feelings of disloyalty are bound to arise in certain cases. Even if a therapist does have the superhuman ability to remain neutral, the client might not view it that way. This interferes with the alliance.

Here is an example. You leave your therapy session having just vented about your traumatic experiences and trust issues with your ex. Shockingly, you bump into your ex in the parking lot when he or she is on the way to see your therapist!

Given that you were your therapist’s well-established client first, how would you feel? Stress with your ex, betrayal trauma from his or her cheating, and financial secrets were the reasons you were going to therapy in the first place.

Would this destroy your trust? Your view of your therapist’s neutrality? Your sense of your therapist’s loyalty to you? For many, this could be very damaging.

I have come across many cases like these

In rural communities, there is sometimes no getting around seeing the same therapist or counselor. This is because the population is so small that there are not enough to choose from. Consequently, your therapist could be your mother’s therapist too. You know this from the get-go.

In large towns and cities, this is usually avoidable.

Are there many therapists to choose from in your area? You might want to pick one that your friend, family member or ex is not seeing. You might want to be clear with your therapist about who you would not like them to see (like your ex or a previous abuser).

As coaches and therapists, we must be extra sensitive to these dynamics. If we aren’t, we could add to our client’s trauma. We are dealing with brains, not broken ankles. We don’t just treat the person who walks through the door. Our current clients come first. Many therapists already have rules against this.

We must give these issues more thought and care. There is high potential to cause the client harm if we don’t.

Check out my previous article HERE on this topic.

I hope this blesses you and your clients.

Thank you for reading! Please share!

Narcissism, Emotional Abuse and the Silent Treatment: Why You Should Not Allow This Oppression In Your Life

Say “No” To Silence and Mandated Shunning

The dreaded silent treatment. It should not be allowed in our lives for many reasons. The silent treatment equates with a lack of human dignity and a lack of love and respect. Who needs that?

Nobody likes being on the receiving end of silence. Not many realize what is truly happening during the silent treatment. Many individuals don’t understand at all what is happening, especially if one is highly empathetic and tends to see the good in others.

Individuals who are acting abusively use the silent treatment dagger to throw the target off kilter and to keep control and domination. It is a subtle yet damaging form of aggression, and why would we allow aggression and coercive control in our lives? It’s an attempt to control a person, to tell them clearly – without words – “You don’t matter” and “I dominate you in this relationship.” It’s human oppression which is rooted in pride and hatred rather than freedom, humility and love. The silent treatment is manipulation.

The best we can do when we are dealing with a controlling person is to pray for him or her and to stop giving the person the opportunity to further abuse. This might equate with stopping the chase. Keep in mind that true narcissists love the mind games which include a chase. When we chase a narcissist, we are only hurting ourselves.

Are We Overthinking It?

Often, the temptation creeps in which makes us think that we are “overthinking” the silence. That is, maybe the silent person is “Just busy” or “Not trying to be overtly mean.” While that might be absolutely true in some rare cases, our intuitions (God-sent) do alarm us when something is unhealthy in the relationship. The fact is that where the silent treatment flourishes, there is often an unhealthy or toxic dynamic. Plain and simple, the silent treatment, when done on purpose to punish someone, is oppressive emotional abuse! Gaslighting (when the abuser gets the target to doubt his or her understanding and reality), confusion and cognitive dissonance often ensue.

While I believe there can be times to show grace, mercy and to give others the benefit of the doubt, often our gullibility and lack of education concerning the silent treatment tactic ends up perpetuating the abuse. Those who have kind, merciful hearts are at high risk for emotional abuse from the silent treatment.

Sharie Stines, Psy.D explains,

“Abusers and/or narcissistic personality types love to ignore you and they love for you to know that they are ignoring you [this is part of the game of chase].  Why is that?  Let’s parse this concept apart.  The silent treatment is not blatant; it’s insidious [it’s not a mere accident, it’s an actual, aggressive tactic used in abusive relationships. Yes, there are people this cruel].  The only person who really feels the silent treatment is the target.  The person giving the silent treatment is not being overtly aggressive, abusive, or unkind in any visible way [this lends to the confusion of the abusive dynamic].  This keeps him looking “good” and reasonable.  When challenged, the giver of the silent treatment can say comments such as, “I’m fine.”  “Nothing’s wrong.”  “I’m not mad.” Or some other innocuous comment [this causes self-doubt and more confusion]. Realize that these comments are forms of gas lighting and confabulation, which are other common narcissistic weapons (see Coping with Narcissistic Confabulators.)  The internal confusion results in the experience of cognitive dissonance, which is prevalent in abusive relationships.” (Emphasis in brackets added)

https://pro.psychcentral.com/recovery-expert/2016/07/the-silent-treatment/

Friends, allowing ourselves to be ignored is not a good idea for one main reason: it eats away at our self-worth and self-esteem. It is a blatant contradiction to the truth: that God values you and that you have human dignity. You should not allow the silent treatment in your life because you have worth and you matter! You should value yourself too. The silent treatment – like a poison – will only damage your psyche, your spirit and even those around you who need you to be healthy!

We are called to respect others but also to respect ourselves. Relationships should be nourishing, life-giving and should allow for equal communication with mutual listening. Above all, when dealing with others who are trying to dominate with the iron fist of silence, let go of fear. Instead, operate in a spirit of power, love and self-control. You – not the abuser – have the power to say “No” to the shaming tool of silence, to love them, pray for them, and get on with your life of freedom.

In my future article, I will discuss my insights about what to do when the silent treatment happens to you. I look forward to exploring those insights and going deeper, together.

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