Believe it or not, I have a psychology degree. My initial intent was to go into counseling but I figured out pretty quickly that I have no emotional off switch. Empathy is an important part of being a therapist, but you need the ability to put it down sometimes. Apparently I'm not the only person who hasn't quite mastered that skill.
One Reddit user asked:
Therapists of reddit, how do you keep your emotions in check while attempting to counsel the most vile of your clients? Surely you have some sessions that just rock your core, or have you really "heard it all"?
Here are some of the more insightful answers...
Not My Time
Regardless of what the person in front of me has experienced, they survived and are seeking help in the here and now. I've found that, as a new therapist, nothing is about me when i'm interacting with a client. It's not my time, it's theirs, so even if I feel a strong reaction in the moment, I give myself permission to set it aside until i am able to take my own time to process. I've definitely cried in the bathroom after rough sessions though.
When I was a caseworker, I used to find it easier to observe professional boundaries and ensure I provided good counselling, etc., with clients I didn't like, compared to clients I did like.
In the case of the former, I always had the mindset of "OK, I don't like this person, so I need to be careful to ensure I conduct myself professionally at all times".
With people I liked, there was always a greater risk of slipping into interpersonal dynamics more akin to friendship, which can be harder to detect (as a degree of friendliness is generally required to provide good counselling and therapeutic support. Characteristics of appropriate conduct, in that respect, can be a much fuzzier line than the professional requirement to not rip into someone for being reprehensible twat).
Like A Wind Tunnel
Honestly, one of the ways I feel most differently from most people is in my level of empathy. I think I'm unusual in this regard, even compared to most other psychologists. I tend to think that if someone really wants to change, they deserve help in making that change. One of the things I find most frustrating about reddit is how quickly people will dismiss other humans as trash. Even those who do the most vile things are human, and they often (although admittedly not all) hate themselves as much, if not more, than others do for doing those things. It's a bit cliche, but people aren't vile, actions are.
Having said that, there are clients who manage to push my buttons, but in general they've not been therapy clients. People in therapy usually want change, and if they don't (for example, they're there because they're forced to be there), I won't continue therapy with them. It's a waste of time. Other clients who do bother me (that I'm evaluating), I try to be aware of my reaction and look at it objectively, in terms of having a job to do, to understand what it is about their behavior that's pushing my buttons because in almost all cases its the same thing that's pushing others' buttons as well. I think of myself as a social psychological testing equipment in that case, sort of like a wind tunnel or something.
Covered In Crap
I'm not a therapist yet, but it's what I want to do and I'm studying to become one. One of the things were taught is unconditional positive regard, and one of the "tricks" we were taught to help us with it is to think of every person being inherently a good person, with it being their experiences that shape who they have become. A good example is the fact that abusers have often been abused themselves.
I don't normally believe in souls, but I find it helps to conceptualize everyone as having a pure soul that gets covered in crap due to what happens in their life. But most of that crap isn't their fault, so you can try to look past it to the good soul underneath. Obviously this doesn't mean you excuse or condone the horrible things people do, it just lets you understand it, at least a little, which does a lot to look past the bad.
In all honesty I think this is probably the best thing I've learned in my entire degree, and I've tried to apply it to anyone in my life who annoys or irritates me. I have found that it increases my tolerance and patience for the little things when I look beyond the thing and think about why they might be doing it.
I sometimes think I must be close to having heard it all but after 20 years, yes, I still get surprises and hear new things from clients.
I can honestly say that there have been very, very few 'vile' clients. I love my work and have a lot of respect for people who are brave enough to come to therapy - its hard work to go through therapy. Its OK as a therapist to have emotional responses to our clients, in fact if you're not then I'd be a bit worried about the therapist. But its being able to recognise what emotions are about my 'stuff' and what emotions are about the clients 'stuff' and dealing with it appropriately. my 'stuff' get set aside for my own therapy & supervision sessions. you learn how and when to identify your own emotions and work with them or set them aside in your training.
Sometimes it is very therapeutic for the client to see my emotional response. Getting sad about a clients abuse can help them to see that what happened to them was not OK when working with abuse clients. Many clients don't have a good connection to their emotions so they learn by seeing my reactions.
I've only had a few clients that might be considered 'vile' - I noticed my emotional response and then set it aside for later and get back to the clients responses. in these cases showing emotions would have been dangerous as they were both sex offenders. Afterwards, yes I did feel 'rocked to the core' and talked about it in supervision, did lots of self care.
There are some stories I've heard that give me nightmares. having a good supervisor/therapist is critical in doing lots of trauma/abuse work as is having done your own therapy, though this is less common these days.
Don't Get Involved
I was a therapist in a forensic facility. I treated serial killers, stalkers, arsonists, etc.
Some of my colleagues had to do a lot of self-care stuff, but honestly I never brought it home with me. Maybe I have a dark streak myself or maybe it's just that at the end of the day it's a job. You get used to the clients. I actually really enjoyed it.
People are people. I remember sitting in a transport bus with a mass shooter in the back in shackles just shooting the shit and cracking jokes. People aren't 100% the worst thing they ever did 100% of the time.
Also, in therapist school (usually a master's or PhD in social work, psychology, or counseling) they spend years teaching you how to treat people without getting personally involved. It's like a muscle you train. You can care about someone and have empathy for them without getting emotionally tangled up in their experience, it just takes practice and direction.
I'm trying to remember if I ever heard anything that "rocked me to my core". I heard stuff that was absolutely mind-bendingly crazy, but...idk...I never heard anything that kept me up at night.
Oooof there are people you come across that make your stomach turn (cue to a pretty serious personality disorder.) One tool I use to muster up empathy and positive regard is imagining what life would be like to be them. Picturing the world through their eyes and how people respond to them daily. Even though their response is different then my imagination it usually is sad, lonely and gives me motivation to help them. That's a simpler one. There are also tools we are trained to use to figure out what it is about someone that is bothersome and how to respond to them in a way that promotes growth. The thought here is that if it's bothersome to a therapist- it's bothersome and negatively impacted interpersonal relationships outside of the therapy session. Our job is to help a client learn and change these things to improve relationships (assuming they want that.)
Sense Of Community
I am mostly desensitized to it all. It doesn't mean I don't have emotions or don't care but my focus is to always validate and explore solutions rather than wallow in the trauma i am hearing. When you are in the mind set of helping the person in front of you, the context of what they are actually saying makes it manageable because you feel useful.
But of course, there are days where I hear a story and hits my heart and I can't shake it for days. During those times I have really practice self care. It's helpful to talk to others in the profession too. There's a sense of community there for sure.
Not a therapist, but I had a friend who was an LCSW (licensed social worker, aka a shrink ) for 30 years.
She would not accept narcissists for treatment.
She said they were incurable, as a group tended to like to play mind games with the therapist, and she had personal issues with narcissist relatives in her childhood.
I imagine other therapists simply do the same, they just don't accept clients who make them extremely uncomfortable.
Value Of Life
I honestly feel like I've heard it all. I'll acknowledge that my experience is atypical, as I work night shift in a level 1 trauma center ER downtown in a major US city. I do crisis counseling, psychiatric assessments, and brief clinical interventions to people experiencing their first psychiatric crisis. Our ER gets all kinds - murderers, child abusers, people with major personality disorders, etc. At the end of the day they are just as human as I am, and while their life experience is different from mine, they deserve the same empathy and respect that I deserve. Part of the reason why I became a counselor is that I have a deep respect for the dignity and value of life. Even if that life is calling me "f*cking ugly" or sh!tting into their own hand, rolling it into a ball, and using it like a bowling ball in our hallways...
America is in quite a state right now.
We are hurting in ways we've never hurt before.
And getting better doesn't seem like an option on the horizon.
America gets a lot wrong everyday.
But, maybe let's try to focus on what America does right.
Maybe it can be a little comfort in times of struggle.
People from all over the world want to live here.
Redditor Ulrich-Stern wanted to discuss the best of America. They asked:
"What does the United States get right?"
I think America certainly has a strong work ethic. We know how to work and win.
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"Accessibility code for buildings. I come from a country where disability is looked upon like a crime or fault. USA does an amazing job making things accessible. I haven’t seen all of USA but majority of the places has amazing system."
"Our public libraries are a real backbone for the country."
"Andrew Carnegie's groundwork in building the institution of free libraries, even in small towns, set a precedent that we wouldn't fathom today but couldn't live without. They often serve not only as an information exchange but as cultural hub, art gallery, performing arts center, tax aid, voter registration, job resources, etc. in communities."
"Plus they're one of the only places you can just exist for hours indoors without the expectation you must buy something.And I feel like they've adapted to the ever-changing needs of their patrons in modern times faster in the US than most places."
"'A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert.' -Andrew Carnegie"
'restore' or 'create'
"Valuing actual wilderness in places like national parks. Here in England, they will 'restore' or 'create' natural habitats, which is sort-of nice, but they are almost like zoos. They are too small to survive by themselves so they are actively maintained."
"And in some English national parks, they actually allow housing developments as long as the architectural design is sympathetic. Here, 'countryside"'means farms. There is still a notion in the USA of protecting some large wilderness areas from development."
"The rate of smoking cigarettes. We do very little well in the US when it comes to overall health, but we are light years better than most places when it comes to the prevalence of cigarette smoking. Hardcore anti smoking adds + laws of inconvenience + social stigma really did work."
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"Films. Don't get me wrong, the US can put out some bad films, but the best ones I've seen are usually American."
We do do films well. That is a big plus.
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"The United States adopts more children than the rest of the world combined."
"Burgers. Motherfreakin' burgers."
"I'd expand that to sandwiches in general. Burgers, Philly cheese steaks, Reubens, subs, clubs, chopped cheese, po'boys, just this whole sandwich spectrum. Americans just took sandwich concepts from across the globe and ran with them."
"I've always envied your wildlife. I'm from England and the only large wild animals (other than fish) we have are deer, boar and foxes. And they're incredibly rare. I've always thought it was so cool one country could have bears, moose, cougars, alligators, panthers, bison/buffalo, etc."
"Gas stations like QuikTrip, where they have clean bathrooms, lighted parking lots, free air for your tires, ten different coffees on tap, beer, hotdogs, any soft drink or snack you want, the list goes on. In other countries -- you're not gonna believe this -- their gas stations only sell... gas."
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"The US is an absolute science powerhouse. The technology we come out with has touched the lives of nearly every person on the planet."
"I say this as an immigrant who came to this country, so perhaps take it with a grain of salt. But it truly gives people a second chance at life. My life would be nowhere near as good as it is right now if I were back in my home country."
Maybe America isn't the hot mess a lot of people think it is. We'll see...
Sex is an important part of life.
That is just a fact.
But sex is also about connection and intimacy.
So it's not a surprise when many relationships take a hit after the sex dries up.
It's not something to ignore.
It's the biggest problem in the world, but partners should discuss it.
RedditorItsyBitsyJoxywanted to hear about reasons to stick around with a partner when there is no sexy time. They asked:
"Would you be in a sexless relationship? What circumstance would you find acceptable for this?"
Sex is fun. And when the sex stopped in my relationships... so did the fun. But that is just me.
A Certain EraVery Funny Oops GIF by America's Funniest Home VideosGiphy
"I'm over 80."
"There’s a lot of people that are going to be real shocked once they hit their 70s."
"Our second child has ruined her sex drive. Intimacy is still there but extremely infrequently. I've learned how much that intimacy brings to the relationship, it feels very lonely and although I know it's not her fault, it can still make you feel like she's not attracted to me anymore. It can be pretty lonely too if you go from a romantic relationship to borderline platonic one. You can't help wonder how much is body changes and how much is you."
"I had rectal cancer and because of the surgery I can no longer get an erection, it's very lonely."
"Not sure if one exists, but a site to just make friends to be cuddle buddies, or whatever, should exist for people like you & me. I lost my sex drive & would like a relationship for that occasionally."
"In my case, it's not wanting to see someone very often, as well as the lack of sex drive, that I think would make it difficult. I also don't like people over to my home as it's too small for a couch & we'd be hanging out on my bed, which is weird to me."
"I'm in one now. My husband had a stroke... no sex is not the big problem for either one of us."
"This comment brings a lot of perspective. My gut reaction to this question was no. Sex was and still is pretty significant in my relationship with my wife. We’re in our 30’s and have been together over a decade. But if something happened to her and it was no longer an option? I would never leave her and love her too damned much to imagine it, no matter how much we love sex."
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"I have a near sexless marriage. The love is strong, but the desire is one-sided. That hurts."
Sexless over loveless is definitely easier. So there is that.
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"I am happily married to my good lady for decades and decades. There are times when it has been sexless for whatever reason but never has it been loveless.I wouldn’t have lasted 2 days in a loveless relationship."
You play the cards you are dealt
"I’m dating a man who got diagnosed with prostate cancer a year or so into our relationship. Prostate had to come out and it’s a hit or miss whether or not sexual function comes back. In his case, it was a miss. He wanted me to move on because he got very depressed over it."
"He’s so pleasant and a real decent human being so I stayed with him. Who would abandon someone due to a health crisis? Unfortunately he got bladder cancer next so this is another hurdle to go over. You play the cards you are dealt. We are together in this."
"The reasons for the 'sexlessness' and the depth of the relationship are key factors. My wife got breast cancer at 40 and while she lived another 8 years, the chemotherapy nullified her libido and made intercourse impossible. And yet I dearly wish we could have grown old together whether or not this would have changed. But that’s completely different from cohabiting a loveless marriage or even facing such a situation in one’s youth only a few years after marriage. That would be hard."
"A sexless relationship is better than a loveless relationship, as long as I'm loved and we share physical affection like cuddling and kisses and I'm allowed to beat my meat when I need too I wouldn't care. Just a heads up to all the people who take this personally enough to comment how wrong I am."
"There's no such thing as a wrong option, my opinion is in regards to myself and myself alone I'm not answering for anyone else. Different opinions aren't wrong... OP asked a question to be answered from your own point of view..so there's no reason to call anyone else wrong... it's about you, answer for YOU I've answered for me."
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"I'm in one. Not happy about it, but love is still there so that's nice."
"Same. Maybe had it once in the last 12 years. Finally decided to go to couples/sex therapy this year. Not sure it is helping, but at least I finally brought up that I wanted to try something. My wife is my best friend and I love here with every fiber, just wish there was more intimacy there."
it never happens...
"We haven't had sex in five months due to numerous reasons. Never have alone time with my mom and daughter here. We're both too tired. Our bed we have sex on is where my mom is sleeping. Our waterbed is difficult to use. We always say next weekend and it never happens. We're still going strong though. We love each other and that's what matters."
Well I guess some people can make it work. More power to you.
We all have things which get on our nerves.
Some people have a fairly high tolerance level, and are only truly perturbed by things which are beyond the bounds of common decency, or which are universally accepted as annoying or inconvenient.
Others are not so lucky, and tend to be set off by things which might go completely unnoticed by everyone else.
Redditor Onatic420 was curious to learn the things which instantly make others want to pull their hair out and scream, leading them to ask:
"What do you find annoying as f*ck?"
Is it so hard to pick up after yourself?
"Habitual litterers."- SuvenPan
"When people don’t clean up after themselves."- cheeto_has_spoken
If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen
"People that can dish it but can’t take it."
"I work with a dude like this and it’s terrible."- MF_GhidraTea Time Reaction GIF by Kamie CrawfordGiphy
Never judge something by it's size.
"When skin tears near your fingernail and that teeny tiny wound hurts way more than it should."- BlackCaaaaat
"When mosquitoes fly by ur ears."- AxcesDrifter
Back to where we started...
"The Reddit app when it scrolls back up to the top of the 65 TRILLION FKN articles you’ve read."
"It should burn the articles as you read them."- Deathdar1577
Take some responsibility!
"A person's inability to say sorry."- rohankentsorry kristen wiig GIFGiphy
Get out of the way!
"People who leave the f*cking shopping carts in middle of the f*cking aisle!"- otherm0ther
But enough about me, what do you think of me?
"People who make it all about themselves."- ExtensionAir7Proud Drag Queen GIF by CameoGiphy
A lost cause
"Willfully ignorant people."- KingZaneTheStrange
Be it the way another person behaves or common, every day occurrences, we all have things which get on our nerves.
Most of the time it's best to grin and bear it.
But next time you see someone litter, it might be a fine opportunity to let that anger out.
For your sake, and everyone else's.
How many of us heard the old saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" as a child?
Or were told by their parents that watching too much television would make your eyes fall out?
Needless to say, these, as well as other sayings and superstitions, were not 100% accurate, possibly even having no truth to them whatsoever
Rather, these were merely a way to encourage, or scare, children into better eating habits, or getting away from the TV once and a while.
Some however, have, took these and other unsubstantiated pieces of information literally, and continue to believe them to be true.
Redditor wste96 was curious to believe what other falsehoods people continue to believe, in spite of proof to the contrary, leading them to ask:
"What's the biggest lie ever told that we, as a society, still believe in?"
Justice will be served... won't it?
"What goes around comes around."
"Sometimes it doesn't."- Recent_View6254
"That people get what they deserve, or must deserve what they get."- HugeMcAwesome
It's just a phase.... or is it?
"That acne will go away after your teen years."- One_Arachnid_1256Scared Freak Out GIF by Lillee JeanGiphy
Better cut back on those TV dinners...
"Microwaves give you cancer"- Salt-Significance702
Absolutely no justification.
"That torture is an effective method of extracting information."
"Every ten years or so, some three letter agency or another is forced to admit that their torture program yielded nothing but false leads and wrecked lives."
"Then goes straight back to doing it."
"The general population shrugs and says 'if it's the only way to get intel' as if they weren't just told point blank that it doesn't work."- barnfodder
A little kindness goes a very long way
"That being nice and accommodating is a sign of weakness."- AidilAfham42Be Nice GIF by Susanne LambGiphy
"Square cut or pear shaped, these rocks don't lose their shape..."
"Diamonds are rare which us why they are expensive."
"They're very very common, their price is kept high by controlling how many enter the market by the De Beers group, which basically has a monopoly on them and hoards them."
"Synthetic/lab grown diamonds are the exact same as natural and even cheaper to make, but people are still convinced they're not as good as 'real' diamonds."- no_ps_wow
Unrealistic expectations on society
"That we need to work tirelessly and wear ourselves out in order to have a good future and stay happy."- iambigego
"Go to a great college and get a great job and have a great life."- MewsikMaker
When you just can't hold it any more...
"That there is a chemical you can put in pools that turns blue when you pee."- Sad_Cherry2884GIF by South Park Giphy
As the saying goes, you can't believe everything you read.
But for the sake of others, still best to avoid peeing in pools.