I have the support of a fantastic psychiatrist and I found her after more than one terrible experience with other physicians in her field. She, like many of her colleagues, has years of expertise, many qualifications and a very large degree of both practice and academia. My doctor, however, could only account for 50% of the practice of psychotherapy. Like every person working in this field, their practice relied on striking a rapport with at least a handful of key patients, each with their own set of ailments and circumstances.
While this is arguably the case for any physician, the deeply personal and emotional nature of psychotherapy means that the method of the Doctor and the situation of the patient must be tailored to each other to be effective. The pitfalls of not doing so accounted for some of my most exhausting experiences as a patient, ever. Compared to drugs and routines and the general task of getting over one’s own symptomology, there was nothing so depressingly insurmountable as trying to get over the wall presented by emotionless and unempathetic Psychiatrists and counselors.
Telling someone the extent of your deepest fears and secrets is difficult enough before you encounter the demeanor of a bureaucrat or a judge or worse, a parent. So often, the method these individuals employed was a direct drain on your energy, your willpower and the good mood you’d worked so hard to cultivate. More often than not, this rigidity took the form of stocism, patronisation and that common or garden method of making sure your patient didn’t impact on your day – cutting the session short as soon as it got too much. Quite apart from not making someone feel better, this actively makes them feel worse.
Interestingly, this is because they are often suffering from a malady themselves, compassion fatigue, something that is present in Emergency Rooms and Clinics and Hospital wards across the world. The energy that we so often need just to deal with people day to day is under constant strain for these professionals and for many of them, our biggest pieces of personal baggage are their hourly and daily fodder. Still doesn’t excuse the bitchiness, though. I was powerless to know at the time that what I was up against this symptomatic set of errors with the practice.
The sheer change in the quality of my treatment when I encountered my doctor and her more personalized methods was what convinced me that this emphasis on proper pairing was essential. How many had suffered because they had gone to a perfectly good Doctor with a perfectly good set of symptoms, just not the right one for them? And how many had fallen into a trap of asking something of a professionally who themselves had a lack of this key internal resource – or no conception of it?
We used to think something of striking a rapport with our Doctor or other key members of our support network and community, to say nothing the nurses and care assistants that treated us during a long convalescence in a hospital, something I’ve also have exhaustive experience of. For the greatest proportion, there only seems to be coldness now, a consistent squandering of the opportunity to get treatment for one’s unique set of symptoms and for physicians to learn about how they manifest from real individuals, not textbooks.
What I suggest is this, we categorize the methods and familiarities of each Psychotherapist and order the patients that are referred to them that way. This is how the warm and affectionate conversationalists, the shy and introverted types and the unique individuals that exist in between get to meet Doctors just like them. Those who need it will get the appropriate exposure to practical counseling, holistic treatments, behavioral therapy and the odd good hug. To those who still have the prospect of these meetings ahead of them, whether Doctor or patient, I say that this has to be your first priority.