It is also a statement of my position and current beliefs on the question of the psy professions for people who just MIGHT be heading into our saloon from psy areas, (and, why not ? people with psy inclinations who are silent readers here).
Readers have noticed that I will resort to somewhat mild forms of sarcasm when referring to the psy professions.
Such sarcasm is not the equivalent of a wholesale disqualification of these professions.
I think that in the psy professions, as in any profession, there are people who are doing good work accompanying patients in their personal trials. And that the patients who are consulting these people are getting a lot out of this kind of accompaniment.
In my neck of the woods, we set great store on freedom of thought. That means that IN MY OPINION, it is desirable for someone exercising a psy profession to be as free as possible from prejudices (I said.. as free as possible. Prejudice is everywhere.).
And I feel that it is desirable for someone exercising a psy profession to be as free as possible from troublesome PREJUDICES about the nature of their profession, their role and their mission.
Unfortunately FROM MY VANTAGE POINT (which I can defend with historical/critical arguments) many psys are woefully ignorant of the prejudices they have CONCERNING THEIR PROFESSION.
It is debatable to what extent such ignorance compromises the quality of work being done with patients. (Which I will concede...)
For the simple reason that I feel at this time that probably the number one prerequisites for being a good psy are : an excellent capacity for empathy, which implies imagination, and the capacity to put oneself in the patient's shoes (from time to time, at least...), and excellent critical/analytic skills. (Incidentally, Thai may argue, correctly in my book, that these qualities make for good doctors too...)
Saint Paul said that one could give away all one's possessions, live in poverty, do good deeds from morning to dusk, but without CHARITY (agape), it was pointless.
So... that means that a good psy MUST practice charity (agape) in order to be good.
Now... does that mean he has to know lots of fancy things about the human psyche, and undergo lots of time and money consuming training to achieve this end ?
Does he have to OWN a BODY of knowledge that sets him up as an expert ?
Maybe. Maybe not. I personally don't think that this is essentiel at all.
And I think that most of what a psy needs to know can not be taught in text books, in seminars, in classes at all. It is... learned through experience, and living.
Obviously I am talking here about the psy as therapist in the talking cure.
Not a prescriptor. That's something different.
A word of caution :
I abandoned my practice for complex reasons :
1) I was not "making a living with it", and I had lost faith in MY capacity to do it well.
2) I discovered that my personal vocation was NOT in synch with the way the psy professions as a CORPORATION organize their work (in France, but also in the U.S., I suspect.). Because... I like to talk MORE than I like to listen. That's pretty straightforward, and my friends on this blog will confirm that..
3) I have come to feel that one of the down sides of the psy professions lies with their propensity to pinpoint the problems an individual encounters in his search for meaning in his life IN THE INDIVIDUAL HIM/HERSELF, and I find this unscientific hypothesis to be normative, and not compatible with MY observations and conclusions that the social body itself is VERY VERY RESPONSIBLE for the difficulties of the individuals that comprise it.
4) I feel that the psy professions are constructed around a complex belief system that emerged from Renaissance/Enlightenment thought, and that this BELIEF system, referred to as SCIENTIFIC thought, evacuates the BELIEFS that underlie our sometimes unconditional allegiance to "scientific" thought. In other words, what we call science is NOT "objective", to the extent that objectivity is impossible in HUMAN experience. We.. BELIEVE in what we call science (many of us, at least..).
Now... at this time, IN NO WAY do I discourage people who are already accompanied by a therapist to abandon the help that they are getting in this context (when they are getting help, that is...and when they are NOT getting help in the therapeutic situation I am very very circumspect.).
But neither do I evangelize actively for the psy professions by telling people that their SALVATION MUST come through therapy. Because... I do NOT BELIEVE this the way I used to...
I also feel that the "service" offered by the different psy professions (from a mercantile perspective) is one that has been offered in varying forms, and with varying success, all through the history of our society. It has been offered... for free, on many occasions.
Now... TODAY, IN OUR SOCIETY, this service is NOT ALWAYS offered for free.
Because of the necessity to invent new ways to put our multitudinous talents to use to put meat and potatoes on the table. (THIS IS NOT NECESSARILY A CONDEMNATION...)
In this same way, coaching is a NEW psy profession which is emerging in France.
While other professions are disappearing over time.
Inevitable huh ??
For the time being I offer my "service" for free (in certain contexts).
Because I feel that... it is VITAL for us to see that you don't have to pay for everything you receive. (That's what "grace" is, by the way. Subject of a future post.)
And Dink ? Remember Herbert ? He was a "psy" too. I wonder whether he ended up abandoning the profession too...