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Part VII –

Looking beyond oneself to help meet the needs of others can help those struggling with anxiety, negativity as it forces us to realize that we are capable of good – and that others are worthy of love. To commit to removing the ego from the self, that is to fully grasp on to an objective perspective, is the necessary chasm to cross in order to completely empathize, listen to, and hear what a patient/client is describing as their reality. There is a lot of language one can use to describe this action, but it really boils down to love.

Love is the foundation through which we treat other people with respect, humbling ourselves and leaning into empathizing over judging or loathing. And we aren’t talking about the mushy-gushy “baby Cupid shot me with a romance-inducing arrow” type of love here. We mean posturing the heart/mind/self to respect and honor other people as a principle of humanity, and committing to that desire to maintain this perspective with no expectation of a returned gain. It is a selfless art, a whole set of skills and muscles that ought to be practiced and trained and conditioned in order to continuously believe the best in others and truly desire to see them grow, flourish, learn, bloom, come alive.

Such a specific, active definition of love sounds exhausting. And that’s because it is. We believe that when you are doing something right, it should be exhausting. This total commitment is what drives the therapeutic approach to mental health care that we subscribe to. It must be an all-encompassing, willful self-sacrifice that drives you through empathy and humility to reach compassion and care. This is how to help heal, or at least the vehicle with which to utilize the learned/trained clinical knowledge and scientific truths to coax others towards discovering healing for themselves. 

Therapists, you must believe that your patients/clients are exceptional… but not the exception. You must treat them with respect, dignity, and honor, with a commitment to seeing them bettered through your clinical relationship. And you must help them realize that their feelings and experiences are valid, but they are not alone or less-than or beyond healing. In M. Scott Peck’s book on psychology, love, and spirituality The Road Less Travelled he touches on this aspect of humility, empathy, and overcoming adversity to discover healing.

“Life is difficult,” he writes. “This is a great truth, one of the greatest … because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

In the patient-clinician relationship, you are half the room. That means you bring with you a whole entire lifetime of experiences, knowledge, assumptions, failures, behaviors, trauma, etc. Naturally, there will be times when a patient’s reality or experiences could be potentially triggering for you due to your own similar past. So knowing yourself and seeking ways to overcome your own darkness proves that you, too, are exceptional, but not the exception!

 

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