IS MY THERAPIST AN ASSHOLE?
Field notes from the therapy room
HILDA NANNING, RSW, MSW, RCC
How do I know if my therapist is being an ASSHOLE or if my problem might be taking over the therapy room?
In a Feminist, Somatic-Narrative Therapy approach, a client’s life is acknowledged as a story in progress that can be viewed and authored according to many different perspectives, discourses and cultural ‘authorities’.
When we interrupt the personal internalization of unsupportive capitalist, patriarchal, colonial and racialized narratives and find healthier, kinder ways to be with ourselves and each other, we disrupt the insidious operations of hegemony1 and this offers us a view beyond the individualistic view that locates the person as the problem. It therapeutic to set apart the self from the cultural doctrinarians at play and nourishing for some of us, to be reminded that an investment in our own wellness can be acknowledged as political activism.
A Feminist, Somatic-Narrative therapeutic approach is inspired by care-ethics2, appreciation and advocacy for inclusion, voice and ‘difference’, and the marginalized, disenfranchised and ‘othered’ experiences and situates an understanding that we are in this together as core to its orientation. Being in this together acknowledges that hegemony exists inside the therapy room, as therapy is not exempt from the politics of class, race, gender and culture.
So how do we know if my problem might be taking over the therapy room?
I would suggest that if you invite this question into the therapeutic conversation and if your therapist does not welcome a discussion with wide open arms and even enthusiasm (as it poses a generous therapeutic opportunity) – a problem might be the asshole in the room and whose it could be a bit complicated.
1.Cultural hegemony refers to domination or rule maintained through ideological or cultural means. It is achieved through social institutions and organized systems(such as social media), which allow those in a location of power to strongly influence the values, norms, ideas, expectations, worldview, and behavior of the rest of society.
2. While early strains of care ethics can be detected in the writings of feminist philosophers such as Mary Wollstonecraft, Catherine and Harriet Beecher, and Charlotte Perkins, it was first most explicitly articulated by Carol Gilligan and Nel Noddings in the early 1980s.