Philosophically speaking, there is a line of sense which understands that there is no common arena to which a philosophy is entirely addressable.
Following along this line, we can begin to understand that philosophy itself, as a name of some thing that arises in the world to knowledge, it’s not always what it proposes itself to be addressing.
Counseling and Mental Health
There are two, and only two ways that knowledge can be understood in the context of counseling.
— There is “mental health” which is the effort to get you back in line (conventional-ideological)…
— there is “mental health” which is coming to terms with who and what you are in the world (existential-philosophical).
Every theory about psychology, mentality, the psyche, thinking, etc. necessarily falls into one of those two categories.
Now, this is not a thought exercise to help anyone towards mental health. It is a statement about the epistemological foundations of what we understand to be mental health.
Usually, especially on blogs, when we tag with “ mental health” we are not talking about counseling, we are giving the regular person, whoever that may be, a “tip“ about how to be “mentally healthy”.
As people may find in my blog, the very idea of mental health is a questionable proposition. For sure, there are better and worse ways to go about anything, whether it is digging a hole, climbing a mountain, or showing up in the world. I think this is what we generally mean when we propose mental health tips, or strategies to have better mental health, positive thinking, things like that. And it’s good, and we have to start somewhere.
Counseling is not necessarily about mental health. Psychotherapy again is usually understood to be a method towards gaining better mental health, but we have to think about what we’re actually doing, both as a counselor and perhaps as a client if they wish to go there. For, what we are really running circles around is validating experience.
The Institution of Trauma
Being a counselor that comes from the standpoint that all mental health issues arise as a response of some sort of basic trauma, The way trauma is relieved and worked with is not to tell the client who is going through trauma that they just “need to get it together”.
I think this is the issue that I Address around mental health and counseling and psychology in general on this blog.
In particular, it is the issue that arises when a person comes into a therapist to get help with their mental health issue, and then the therapist approaches the problem as if something is wrong with the client. This happens by method, which is to say, from the standpoint of psychiatry or psychology. The method states implicitly that anyone coming in with a mental health issue that they want to solve, is necessarily problematic themselves as it is assumed that something is wrong with the client.
Then there is the middle ground, sort of, an irony, of those therapists that work from a theoretical foundation that we need to understand, empathize, and not judge the client.
I am reminded of a client I was talking to, not my own client, but someone who had been to psychotherapy for many years— she brought it up:
There is the fucked up implication that something is wrong with you at the same time the therapist is telling you out of their mouth that you are OK and there’s nothing really wrong with you. It’s like a deception, this person said. And I might add that where this is the case it is an institutionalized or an ideological mechanism that arises as a residuum even often with even most best therapeutic intention. Therapy is supposed to be about being honest, but the method is often based in a foundation of dishonesty.
I suppose the work of this blog is an attempt to recognize this residue and try to work with it. Attempt to try and get rid of it somehow or at least acknowledge that it is there.