What the hell is ‘therapy’?

This is a copy of an email I sent to Jim Camp.


Hi Jim,


        Just some thoughts from my world. In my field, one thing I have noticed is that fairly often the most difficult mental health patients are those that aren’t qualified to make a decision or follow through with it, especially when they start treatment and are struggling the most. In other words, negotiating with them alone would violate the rule – ‘never negotiate with the unqualified’.

Nevertheless, they are often able to identify decision makers in their lives and negotiations can continue. This sounds so simple but it has been a real eye opener. One of the reasons for this is that involving others in someone’s therapy Is often viewed as ‘family therapy” , and that is a specialty that many practitioners simply refer out to a specialist. Now that I see therapy as an arena which needs to be negotiated at all levels, I bring people in all the time to negotiate with set agendas and keep the sessions from devolving into ‘working on the relationship’ or ‘having better communication’ or some other fuzzy focus that as often as not leads to aggravation.

 The term  ‘therapy’ is really a suitcase term nowadays. People even refer to a glass of scotch as ‘their therapy’.

      I am not even seeing myself as a ‘therapist’ anymore. I help clients negotiate desired outcomes in the mental health arena. I am ‘in this world’ of mental health, but ‘not of it.’  It flows from the re- reaction mindset that is so important to the system, but it has taken me awhile to develop these concepts and apply them to myself and my work.

 I used to see negotiation as something that might fit into therapy, but now I am seeing ‘THERAPY’ as being just one potential item in the PRESENTATION section of the whole system.

 You asked me to share from my world, and as I try to do so I realize it has been turned inside out.

    I wonder if this phenomenon is common in other fields.





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