Do I need a label for my problems?

With so many therapies available how will you know what is the right one for you?

Whatever therapy you choose, CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy), Psychodrama, Person Centred Therapy, Humanistic Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Psychoanalysis, Solution Focused Therapy, Integrative Therapy or Family Therapy, try to find a therapist who will not put you through a generic assessment in order to enable them give you a label at the end of the process. If you are given description of your behavior, ensure the person describing you is fully qualified to do so. (see below)

We seem to have become a society of amateur psychologists and psychiatrists. We talk about OCD behavior, about anorexia and about such things as being on the Aspergers spectrum. These terms (used by psychologists and psychiatrists, not used by counsellors) have become absorbed into our general vocabulary in the same way that other “new” words are absorbed into language. We hear the word, we piece together a rough meaning based on the circumstances in which we hear the word and we incorporate the word into our vocabulary. Perhaps this new word serves as a sign that we are able to assimilate sophisticated ideas, perhaps this sends a sign to others that we are good people for them to know.

Be mindful also that OCD, Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD, ADD and other labels describe a presentation. These diagnoses do not tell us how we became the person the label attempts to describe.

In the case of ADHD, for example, the label tells us that a person has trouble settling and focusing and may find taking instruction hard to manage. The label does not tell us about the quality and nature of the relationships he or she has been exposed to at home and at school.

At my consulting rooms on the borders of Bournemouth and Poole in Dorset, I will be careful to look behind a person’s behavior (or coping mechanism or strategy) and look to see how the strategy they employ helps them to keep safe and signals their life experience to the skilled helper.