Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Criminalization of Therapy

The “Criminalization” of Therapy

The first time I noticed this was when I was doing domestic violence work in the county jail.  My associates began to act like jailers and  enforcers in the jail environment.  After the session I gently reminded my associates that we were working with hurt people and attempting to help them better understand themselves.  They immediately understood.

Whenever a helping professional receives referrals from the criminal justice system, this tendency needs to be scrupulously avoided.  Often the counselor sees these people with disdain and judgement that leaks into their treatment of their clients.  
It is our unconscious or mindless tendencies that lead us to fall prey to these paradigms of enforcement.  I think there is a deep fear of enabling the client so the opposite is the type of tough love that is totally counterproductive to the health of the client.  There is a gentle and direct way to confront clients on their maladaptive behaviors and attitudes.  

It says in the Big Book of AA that “we avoid retaliation or argument…we wouldn’t treat sick people that way.  In Buddhism we see all humans as the Buddha or as an enlightened being.  The reason they behave badly is that they suffer from obstacles and obscurations which cloud their ability to see clearly and to treat themselves with compassion and honor.  Think of a pristine window that has had mud and grease smeared all over it .  The window, underneath the mud is still pristine.  Our job as helping professionals is to assist our clients to clear away the obstacles and obscurations.  If we act like jailers, we are essentially flinging more mud onto our clients pristine Buddha nature.

This is just wrong.

Until next time….Be Well

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