When properly delivered, the benefits of appropriate psychotherapy can be powerfully life-changing.However, there are many ways to get off track throughout the process, which is why therapists need to be well-trained, licensed, ethically and emotionally stable, grounded in common sense, and masters of self-discipline and self-care.Certainly the therapeutic relationship is a unique situation wherein two human beings share space in a room while playing particular roles that ask them to maintain strict discipline of their human instincts, but to share the greatest level of openness and honesty imaginable.When deconstructed, the therapeutic hour shows itself to be a very bizarre social construct that is quite challenging to enact in a productive and healthy way.Your therapist can help you develop the skills you need to go out and make friends and find someone to help you through the difficulties of life.But if your therapist tries to convince you that his or her role is to love and protect you, run away! And if he or she makes any sexually suggestive advances (verbal or physical), you know you are not working with an ethical therapist.
My concern is that the writers of these shows may actually be typical, regular people who truly believe that relationships with therapists are normal.If this storyline is depicted in other regular people’s everyday media consumption, a very serious misconception about the purpose and practice of psychotherapy may occur.Of course, romantic, sexual, and loving feelings can arise between two people who sit close together and speak of personal and intimate issues on a regular basis.It was very disheartening for me to hear that this character acted on his sexual impulses, even though he apparently understood the harm that physical intimacy could do to his client.I think these representations are misguided and ill-advised, as they imply that the psychotherapeutic setting is always imbued with sexual energy and tension.
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The boundaries around the therapeutic relationship are essential to the success and integrity of our profession, and I find it inexcusable for our entertainment industry to treat the subject matter so lightly and irresponsibly.