Luan reflects on: their ‘why pronouns matter’ article, the resilience bank, paper cuts. They share the 5 things they do to maintain their resiliency.
Luan’s article ‘why pronouns matter’ is here to help bust some of the myths around gender diversity and to demonstrate how small changes in our interactions can have a huge positive impact on those with diverse identities.
As a psychotherapist and supervisor in private practice they reflect on their experiences within the therapeutic community regarding diversity, particularly gender, sexual and relationship identity. Their thoughts can be readily transposed to any area of diversity. Their aim is to offer some insights here into how we might better serve our clients, supervisees and colleagues. All examples are anonymised.
Whilst they recognise that change is slow within wider society they feel we have a duty as counsellors, psychotherapists and supervisors to be robust enough to challenge, be challenged and expand our knowledge and understanding, rather than live in a bygone era of oppression, judgement and ignorance. LGBT+ hate crime has increased by 78% in the last five years1. It matters to clients, supervisees and supervisors. Indeed it needs to matter for change to occur. Resilience and why pronouns matter.
“People are simply people”. Whether you’re a counsellor, psychotherapist or supervisor I would like to think that together we could enable people to simply be people, wear whatever they feel comfortable wearing, using names and pronouns that they feel most comfortable with, doing jobs and hobbies that make them feel fulfilled, loving whoever they happen to love. It’s a vision I still hold most dear but fear we as a profession are not there yet.
I’ve been thinking about resilience to engage in dialogue. I wonder how many complaints or threat of complaints to BACP could be resolved by simply having open adult-to-adult dialogue. As we hear and tell our individual perspective we create the opportunity for greater understanding of ourselves and others. Though this does require a level of courage for all involved.
Personal development – resilience to engage in dialogue
As therapists we need to have done enough work on our own emotional development. This way we can truly tolerate hearing clients tell us that we have got something wrong. Reacting without retaliation, but with compassion and understanding is hopefully our goal. With an apology we can often bring in challenge where it’s needed. We help clients to see what part they may have played in the situation as well as check out our own responses.
Therapists often have a dual role. It’s these dual roles that are so often at the heart of conflict. So it’s also really important to be able to voice our concerns, disappointment, frustration etc. with our therapist, supervisor or manager. Without that open dialogue, ruptures go unrepaired and the roots of the conflict (envy, anger, frustration, misunderstanding etc.) are left unchecked. They easily fester into something much bigger than was originally there. We understand that sometimes clients need to run away from dialogue to (un)consciously generate a repeat of previous unresolved conflict.
Possibility of a different outcome
Our aim is hopefully one of providing the opportunity for a different sort of ending. Alternatively, a different response than has been experienced previously. We can only provide that space; the client then choses whether they can take the risk for a new experience. The same space is provided for supervisees and colleagues. In having more than one role we need to develop the resilience to engage in those difficult conversations. If we don’t have the resilience to engage in dialogue the relationship can break down and potentially result in unresolved conflict.
In my own experience, across my roles of client, therapist, supervisor and manager, I have seen the benefits of open dialogue in bringing about change both for myself and others.