Saturday, February 28, 2009

Proud of Depression

Being out of the depression mindset is literally showing me new perspectives with not only my life, but with life as a whole. Studies show that most people go into the psychology field because of their own ‘issues’, yet admission of a mental disorder among clinicians is highly discouraged, at least the work settings and peer groups in which I have belonged. “You’re a therapist… you should know how to fix yourself,” and “How are you going to counsel clients when you have your own problems?” Do orthopedic surgeons get asked similar questions when they break a bone? “How can you help patients with a broken foot?” Why are psychological issues different?

Of course, there are extreme cases. Someone with an Axis II/psychoses may be incapable of providing ethical, competent therapy. When I applied to be a licensed therapist, the State of Florida’s application specifically asked if I had ever been treated for mental illness, and if so, when, where, etc. (I think the application for Certified Rehabilitation Counselor did too). My psychologist had to make a sworn statement regarding my mental competence, which, of course, he had no problem doing. I believe my competence, and even excellence as a therapist results from admitting I needed help and seeking counseling rather than letting my pride keep me from reaching out. In fact, one of my proudest ‘moments’ now is when I quit my job as a counselor despite having no safety net, no plans, and no support from colleagues. Even the psychologist who supervised & trained me said I needed to beg for my job back. I knew my state of mind, and while I had no resources, what mattered more to me was I had no hope. I refused to be responsible for clients’ welfare in the depressive state I was in and I am immensely proud of my decision.

After all, the clinician’s responsibility is to act in the best interest of the client, and that is what I did. I will never be ashamed to admit my battle with depression as admitting it not only saved my clients’ well-being, but it saved my life as well.

No comments: