Labels can be limiting
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Vivien Price
31st August, 2010
Sometimes it seems ‘as if’ we need a label to receive help or at least to be heard, depression, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, Personality Disorder or Bi-polar disorder.
Often the label is initially welcomed, as the relief that there is something amiss in ourselves, relationships or life generally has been served back to us as a ‘known’ condition. This recognition that distress is actively being experienced comes as a relief when it achieves a ‘label’. The hard part is when the label evades or isn’t in receipt of the dynamic exploration needed to resolve the emotional pain and confusion. So labels, while achieving some kind of recognition, will not always or entirely elicit the robust effort of being worked with in a way that significant change can be given a chance.
A client who may state, “I have been described as being co-dependent” often does not know what that means when asked to unpack that observation.
When someone remarks, “I am an old person” they can quickly evaluate what that means to them. For example I ‘creak a bit’ ‘I find I am not listened too as I was when I was younger’, ‘my energy levels are reduced’, ‘I don’t worry so much anymore’.
The bewilderment of not having understood the diagnosis, the symptoms and the jargon can sit in the consulting room like a large undigested meal producing dissatisfaction and emotional ‘indigestion’ in a client once they have reflected on a hitherto seemingly absorbed statement by someone else.
People come into psychotherapy for an experience of getting a ‘sense’ of their vicissitudes that they can relate to. If what the client says isn’t attended to and unpacked they might feel they are being treated like the five year old who hasn’t mastered the basics but instead is being propelled onto the next learning level in order to keep up with the ‘clever’ ones.
Client insights are hard won, that is the counselling remit! One breathtaking shift in a clients understanding can secure the confidence in them that much is possible! indeed probable.
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