Question to an expert: Why “sofa psychology” does not work

We are used to searching online for ANSWERS TO MOST OF THE QUESTIONS OF EXCITING US . In the new series of materials, we ask just such questions: burning, unexpected or common – to professionals in various fields.

Despite the fact that more and more people are talking about mental disorders, there are still many myths and misconceptions around them. One of the most popular is that psychologists and psychotherapists are something “fashionable” and superfluous, which came from Hollywood films, and a “normal” person has friends for heart-to-heart talk. Why a friend does not compare to a professional, how sofa therapy can harm all participants in a conversation, and how to hint a friend that it is time for him to see a doctor, we asked an expert.

The main difference between a specialist and a friend is in professional training. This is not only the knowledge that a psychotherapist and psychologist have received at the university for several years, but also hours of their own therapy, which help to correctly diagnose the problem and work correctly with a person experiencing a difficult situation. Unfortunately, mental illness can hit any of us – but stigma often makes it difficult to seek help. Because of stereotypes, others can reject a person, react negatively to him, which will make him even more withdrawn in his illness.

There is a myth that “strong” people do not get depression, phobias, or panic attacks. It may seem paradoxical, but it is the strong, sensitive and responsible people who take on many responsibilities at work and in the family who are more likely to suffer from diseases such as depression and anxiety disorders. These people tend to set high goals for themselves and give themselves too little time to fulfill them. When such loading factors become in excess, the psyche simply cannot stand it, which is not surprising: the resource of physical and emotional forces has a limit. Moreover, it is more difficult for strong people to accept their weaknesses and limitations, to admit that they are tired and they need help. A person tries to cope further on his own – but this is not always possible without a specialist.

Of course, a friend can support in a difficult moment, he can take care of human beings and give advice based on his experience. But also, let’s say, he can insist on this advice as the only correct one – after all, this is what once helped him. That said, it’s easy to forget that each person and situation is unique. A close person can also be too emotional and subjective, included in what is happening and simply cannot look from the outside, take into account the strengths and weaknesses of a person, his resources and deficiencies. As a result, he remains disoriented and may go into an even greater impasse or make the wrong decision.

Sometimes a friend, experiencing a situation, is drawn into the so-called trauma funnel, and then only two people need help. In turn, a layperson can additionally load a person with his emotions that arose in response to a problem: fear, anger, anger, guilt or shame. If a solution is not found for a long time, depreciation may also begin: “Stop, stop how much you can be sad about this, look at others who are even worse in life…” – and this will make it even harder. It will seem to a person that he has no right to be himself, there will be a feeling of guilt for emotions and the inability to cope with them.

Sometimes a friend, experiencing a situation, is drawn
into the so-called trauma funnel, and then two people need help.

A friend can give value judgments and characteristics, which additionally traumatizes a person and deprives him of support and self-confidence. Support may suddenly stop if the friend does not have more time and energy. Finally, a friend may not notice serious symptoms and not understand that there is a need for drug therapy – as a result, the disease will progress. Even a specialist can find it difficult to make a correct diagnosis, let alone a friend without a specialized education. There are also absolutely monstrous situations: a person becomes worse, he commits suicide, and those around him develop the so-called feeling of survivor’s guilt, and then they themselves cannot do without professional help.

In my practice, there was a young man who suffered from panic attacks, and two psychologists did not help him to overcome sudden attacks of lightheadedness, dizziness and fear. Gathering a family history, I learned that many of his male relatives suffered from epilepsy – and he seemed to be lucky, the disease was over. Just in case, I asked for an electroencephalogram – and the patient confirmed epilepsy, and the prescribed medications completely removed the manifestations of which he complained. You understand that in such a situation, gatherings even with the closest friends will not help.

Even if a friend is a psychologist or psychotherapist by education, work and personal life should be separated. Otherwise, roles, boundaries and rules are violated, friendships are lost, and the quality of psychotherapy will be poor. The actions of such a psychotherapist may not be perceived as professional: knowledge of weaknesses, habits, details of a friend’s personal life will not allow him to be perceived as a doctor. Questions, words, and recommendations may sound offensive, silly, or offensive. It may seem that a friend is establishing himself at someone else’s expense or depreciating emotions. In general, such therapy will not be effective – it would be most correct to give the contacts of another specialist.

If you find yourself in a situation where a loved one needs help, then perhaps it is better to ask him to free up time for a meeting – and start the conversation with an apology for hypotheses and assumptions, be sure to say that his experiences are important to you. Then calmly state the facts that you noticed: it can be the smell of alcohol in the morning, forgetfulness and absent-mindedness, from which the result of work suffers, untidy appearance, and so on. It makes sense to show the contacts of specialists, saying that they have already helped someone. It may be worth mentioning an experience that happened in your life or in the life of your friends who overcame a similar situation. Suggest then going to the pharmacy if needed, escorting a friend to the doctor, or just sitting at home so you don’t feel lonely — that’s the best help you can offer without taking on too much responsibility.

local_offerevent_note July 20, 2021

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