“No, I cannot read your mind.”
“Yes, a client may lie to me without me noticing.”
Most people have stereotypes. Psychologists are not exempted. We have stereotypes but there are also many stereotypes about us.
In the distant past I worked for a large consulting firm. One Monday, when I got to work, I entered the elevator and immediately after me, the HR manager came in. “How are you?” he asked me. “Tired”, I replied. He asked me why. I told him I had run my first half-marathon the day before. His reply surprised me “What do you mean you run?, you are a psychologist!” I tried to conceal my look of bewilderment.
Are there commonalities to clinical psychologists?
I believe there are. Not everybody leans towards a profession with many ambiguities and uncertainties. Besides, not everybody prefers a job whose aim is to help others but the means imply many times to confront pain and suffering. I believe that earlier experiences that psychologists went through in childhood and adolescence are an important factor in the decision to pursue a career in psychology. Some psychologists try to understand how human beings function, other might want to help other people and some also might be tempted to enter into psychology to understand or cure their own issues.
There are so many clinical theories, methods and practices, however, that it is difficult to find two psychologists completely alike. Some work with behaviours, others with emotions, still others with thoughts. Others work with the language that the client utilizes, some with dreams. Some psychologists are formal, others are more informal. Some therapies involve only talk, others involve exercises. Most psychologists however utilize a mixture of the above variables. The only important variable, I believe, is whether the client feels better, makes choices that are good for him/her and they realize that they are not repeating patterns of the past.
When does a therapy end?
In the past it used to be the therapist who defined that. Again, that depends on the type of therapy, but I believe that sometimes it is the therapist, sometimes the client and better yet, sometimes it is a joint decision. Many times I feel that the clients do not need therapy with the same frequency, that we can space out the sessions more. I usually discuss that with my clients.
In fact, I believe that many psychologists are artisans. There is sometimes a long road ahead to understand the situation, deciding what to do and then starting to work, most of the times taking time to look at the progress of the work.
Revisiting the initial questions, here are new answers
“No, I cannot read your mind. But if we work together, you and I, we will probably get to know you, and to help you.”
“Yes, clients may lie to me without me noticing. But they cannot lie to themselves.”