At group this week, I played therapist. I was a PATIENT, not the therapist, who, by the way, calmly and ably led the group. For a while, I took over. I could not contain my reaction to what I heard. The part of me that reacts to perceived danger and is impassioned about protecting people from violence could not stay calm. I had to put in my two cents. I always have to state my opinion. There I was, once again getting all worked up, REACTING, not sitting back and letting others come to their own conclusions.
Earlier that same day I played therapist with someone who knew that I have bipolar disorder, that I blog about my mental illness, and that I once was a psychotherapist.
Part of this behavior of mine is symptomatic, part personality, part professional training, part vocational, part a calling. When I was in my twenties, I was a psychotherapist, a Marriage, Family and Child Counselor (MFCC). Now the license is called a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). The former license name better described what I did, for most of my work was with adolescent girls. I maintain my license on an inactive basis, for I worked hard to get it, and I haven’t quite closed the door on some day reactivating it and doing something with it. What that something is, I do not know. My vulnerability, my permeable boundaries, make me empathic and perceptive, but also put me at risk.
As a psychotherapist, I was not calm and reassuring. No, I did crisis intervention and broke down denial. I worked best with adolescent girls, who appreciate someone who is real, who shows their true self. I was a better case manager, professional nag, than impassive listener.