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  1. #11
    ish red no longer *sad* nightning's Avatar
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    I think you're going about this the wrong way... It shouldn't be about you, it should be about your client. What benefits them?

    What's the purpose of them visiting a psychiatrist or psychotherapist? To get help. Would they feel more at ease with a therapist that feels "human"? Yes, but only up to a point.

    The most difficult thing about talk therapy of any sort is getting your client to trust you enough to open up. Professional dress code help promote that image that the therapist knows what he/she is doing. It's the same with the "don't talk about yourself" rule. It's a little counter intuitive but sometimes objectivity gets people to open up more than when you're too up close and personal. The same deal with how people will tell somebody half way across the world very personal stuff online, but they'll never share it with anybody close to them. Keep it simple. The more disconnected they feel the therapist office is compared to "real world", the better for them to open up.
    My stuff (design & other junk) lives here: http://nnbox.ca

  2. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by nightning View Post
    I think you're going about this the wrong way... It shouldn't be about you, it should be about your client. What benefits them?

    What's the purpose of them visiting a psychiatrist or psychotherapist? To get help. Would they feel more at ease with a therapist that feels "human"? Yes, but only up to a point.

    The most difficult thing about talk therapy of any sort is getting your client to trust you enough to open up. Professional dress code help promote that image that the therapist knows what he/she is doing. It's the same with the "don't talk about yourself" rule. It's a little counter intuitive but sometimes objectivity gets people to open up more than when you're too up close and personal. The same deal with how people will tell somebody half way across the world very personal stuff online, but they'll never share it with anybody close to them. Keep it simple. The more disconnected they feel the therapist office is compared to "real world", the better for them to open up.
    Who says it's about you (the therapist) though? I know that *I* never mentioned that. You mean, if the therapists dresses a certain way? Is this what you're referring to, which makes you believe it'd be all about the therapist?

    If so, I don't think that's the case. I know that me, if I were a therapist and I dressed a certain way I, in no way, would think the session is all about me. In fact, that wouldn't even cross my mind. I'd just be dressing in what I thought was comfortable... how I wanted. I mean, I want to set an example for the client that it's OKAY to be yourself and to dress how you're comfortable.

  3. #13
    Artisan Conquerer Halla74's Avatar
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    OK, I'm about as authentic as can be. I'm the same no matter what time of day it is, no matter who I am with, no matter where I am at. I have long hair, but it is well groomed. I am an energetic, loud, and cheerful person. I have fun no matter what I am doing, and some people I have worked with in the past (supervisors, never co-workers) told me that my "boisterous laughter, and use of works such as "blown away" to refer to corruption of a database were unprofessional."

    Did any of this bother me? No. Did I change my ways? No. The bottom line is this. If I am working and representing my boss or my Agency I make sure that I am professional, especially if I am working with people I have not worked with before. Is this a compromise of my authenticity? No, not in my opinion, because I am hell bent and determined to do a good job at anything I am doing. I am of the belief that once you establish good, general rapport with someone that you can relax and be yourself beyond what is typically exposed in a first impression.

    There are folks who have incorrectly stereotyped me as being a "surfer" or a "meat head" and to my great delight they are shocked once they work with me on a given project and realize that no matter what my appearance, I am all about business, and professional.

    If anyone has an issue with me or my appearance they are more than welcome to take it up with me.

    Just my .02.

  4. #14
    Senior Member Anja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Athenian200 View Post


    Anja's advice is very practical (if a bit severe in my opinion),
    Thanks for this, Athenian. Was on my way out the door and, in retrospect, I thought I had been some brusque. But I had some time to think while I drove this afternoon and came back with a little more to say.

    The values you'll be working with, Not, will be more about the internal than the external. How a client or his helper dresses are the least of the issues you'll be dealing with. In that you are correct that a therapist needs to be solid in their values.



    Edit: As a beginning counselor, if you are in a good program, you are going to be under scrutiny and called upon to examine your behaviors and values system so that you can best serve others. And well it should be. A counselor needs to be the healthiest self possible. Not only so they can help, but also for self-protection. It's an emotionally dangerous field.

    By any extreme amount of resistance to recommendations you may be questioned regarding your willingness to fit into any given system. So on this search for personal integrity that you are undertaking you may want to side-step some of the small stuff in an effort to open yourself more fully to the big stuff. (Sending just a little "cheat" tip here.)

    You can be independent in a strong and healthy way no matter what your hair looks like.

    That line between helper and helpee is fairly sacred and a precious boundary to hold or things can go seriously awry.

    I think you've gotten some good feedback.

    It's definitely not important how anyone wears their hair and perhaps is even a poor way to determine what the person is about.

    And, as a person who is studying psychology, it may be useful for you to consider your appearance as an adjunct to your therapeutic techniques. It truly will have a conscious or subconscious effect on how you are perceived, whether correctly or not. That does not need to be interpreted as "phoney." The authenticity that you will best benefit from focussing on will be internal authenticity.

    For instance, when I have official business to do and want to be persuasive, I tend to dress with my hair up and in dark colored, conservative clothing and I find that I carry a stronger sense of credibility than when my hair is in a ponytail and I'm in my jeans.

    Who am I? Yeah, I'm that person in the jeans. Do I know what works best for me? I do. And my internal values change not a whit dependent on what I'm wearing. That's what's important to me.
    "No ray of sunshine is ever lost, but the green which it awakes into existence needs time to sprout, and it is not always granted to the sower to see the harvest. All work that is worth anything is done in faith." - Albert Schweitzer

  5. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anja View Post
    Thanks for this, Athenian. Was on my way out the door and, in retrospect, I thought I had been some brusque. But I had some time to think while I drove this afternoon and came back with a little more to say.

    The values you'll be working with, Not, will be more about the internal than the external. How a client or his helper dresses are the least of the issues you'll be dealing with. In that you are correct that a therapist needs to be solid in their values.
    That's the thing... I have solid internal values, but these (at least my perception is) are not seen because I am dismissed automatically for my outward appearance! The pigtails! Or, whatever else; I like having holey pants! So flippin' what! I don't like the superficiality... I have a very STRONG sense of integrity, but some people can't see it because of how I dress? That's ridiculous! It would be ridiculous if I got shot down from ONE person at an organization b/c THAT one person didn't like my external appearance.

  6. #16
    Senior Member Anja's Avatar
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    All true. Unfortunately.

    You'll be dealing with the recognition that there are many things you don't like that you won't be able to change in working with people. Way more important things than anyone's appearance.

    I'd recommend saving your energy for those larger issues. This one is, indeed, your own personal issue and it's good that you are dealing with it before you begin your life's work.

    The nice thing is that, with increased confidence in yourself and with increased confidence shown by others, this issue will be easy to set aside with time.

    Or you can fight the system, using emotions which would best be saved for the difficult emotional work you'll be called on to do. There could be repercussions to holding your stance, but you have the choice to do that. And recognize that you'll have some difficulties because of your choice. I think that's good.

    The scope of what you'll be dealing with will be life and death issues. You can choose where you want to put your energy.
    "No ray of sunshine is ever lost, but the green which it awakes into existence needs time to sprout, and it is not always granted to the sower to see the harvest. All work that is worth anything is done in faith." - Albert Schweitzer

  7. #17
    Lallygag Moderator Geoff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Not2bforgot10 View Post
    I'm writing to see what people think of self-expression in professional settings; in particular, the psychotherapy setting.

    I was in class the other day and we were talking about ethics, etc, and some of the students argued that psychotherapists should not have piercings, tattoos, etc.

    I, personally, have pigtails, which I actually think are very cute and they're "me" and I was discouraged by some of the students to wear these.

    I realize that if I have pig tails I may not be taken seriously by some people, but to be honest, I don't care--in the sense that it will not stop me from wearing pig tails. The pig tails are "me;" they're part of what makes me unique, and I will not change that for anyone! I want people to start looking beyond outer appearances and the only way I'm going to do that or make any social change in people's eyes is by starting with myself! If I'm going to be the example then I'm going to stick to it.

    I think that when people change their style they are giving into society's judgmentalness and stereotypes. I think they are letting society get the "best" of them. Why should we have to compromise our individuality? Why not all be authentic in expression? If we all continued to change our appearances/who we are, then we will never really know one another on any real, personal, intimate level.
    I am curious as to hear people's take on this.

    So the question... Should psychotherapists be allowed to exhibit themselves (fashion-wise) however they want?

    (I'm going to dig deep here); I'd like to get to the real core of this. Please, especially INTJ's and those who have difficulty with allowing themselves to be vulnerable, share your vulnerable, beautiful experiences... open your hearts for a second and just let out what's inside.

    Thank you.
    I've spent far too many years now as a working professional - not psychotherapy but a tax adviser. However, I know what it means to have to make a first impression and appear professional. I've worked for a bank, and then a large firm of accountants and now a small one I've just joined. I've often acted as a mentor and counsellor to staff, so I know - in a way - how it is to need to build that connection.

    The thing is... members of the public will automatically grant you the respect and acceptance that your profession carries. Not dressing or looking appropriate will mean that it is more of a challenge to obtain that for free. Now, I'm quite happy to challenge the traditional look - I was one of the first to ditch ties so as to look more casual, and so on.

    So, go for it, but just be aware that you will always have to fight harder to get acceptance from each new client if you don't look how they expect. Many people get a buzz from that challenge...!

  8. #18
    ish red no longer *sad* nightning's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Not2bforgot10 View Post
    Who says it's about you (the therapist) though? I know that *I* never mentioned that. You mean, if the therapists dresses a certain way? Is this what you're referring to, which makes you believe it'd be all about the therapist?

    If so, I don't think that's the case. I know that me, if I were a therapist and I dressed a certain way I, in no way, would think the session is all about me. In fact, that wouldn't even cross my mind. I'd just be dressing in what I thought was comfortable... how I wanted. I mean, I want to set an example for the client that it's OKAY to be yourself and to dress how you're comfortable.
    I don't mean to attack... but if you didn't "mind" why would you bring it up? Clearly it's about you wanting change... I just wanted to indicate perhaps there's a reason why there's a dress code in the first place.

    Think about the suit and tie/ lab coat doctors wear. Why do they do that? The image is important. Image as in what a prototypical doctor archetype should be. Trust is important. Because the doctor can only advice... just like a therapist can only give advice. If the patient/client is unwilling to follow the advice, there's nothing you can do. Professionalism works a lot easier in giving you the initial trust.

    You're not just rocking the boat in going against what's normally done... you're going against the perception your client has of what a professional therapist should be. That might cost you extra time to gain their trust so they'll open up to you... time that can be spend on better things.
    My stuff (design & other junk) lives here: http://nnbox.ca

  9. #19
    Senior Member Anja's Avatar
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    I hope we'll hear from you again, Not.

    Maybe take this issue and the feedback you got to a trusted teacher and ask them what they think.

    It's less a matter of whether everyone who spoke here is "right" and that you are "wrong" and more concern on my part that you recognize any unpolished parts of your personality which may catch you up when you are working.

    If your program is a good one your instructors should be working with you on any clash between your personal values and what you may need to do to be an effective therapist. It's not just you. Every counselor needs to work on this to keep from getting their stuff mixed up with their clients' stuff.

    Here's a chance to explore.

    I don't know what clientele you anticipate serving, but have you considered working with a paedophile with those pigtails in your hair?

    Or getting a really good job with any organization which requires you to set aside some personal preferences? This is bound to happen a few times.

    How about a client who insists upon doing it his own way when you can see that isn't his healthiest choice? How will your own expression of individuality play into helping him see other options? Could telling him to be true to himself first when it may not be best for him get in his way of growth?

    Things to consider.
    "No ray of sunshine is ever lost, but the green which it awakes into existence needs time to sprout, and it is not always granted to the sower to see the harvest. All work that is worth anything is done in faith." - Albert Schweitzer

  10. #20
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Not2bforgot10 View Post
    That's the thing... I have solid internal values, but these (at least my perception is) are not seen because I am dismissed automatically for my outward appearance! The pigtails! Or, whatever else; I like having holey pants! So flippin' what! I don't like the superficiality... I have a very STRONG sense of integrity, but some people can't see it because of how I dress? That's ridiculous! It would be ridiculous if I got shot down from ONE person at an organization b/c THAT one person didn't like my external appearance.
    People aren't really questioning your integrity if they do that. Many of them care more about appearances and taste than integrity. I'm dead serious. Integrity is the last thing on many people's minds. A lot of them may not even know what it is.

    Oh, so you're not talking about just pigtails then? I kind of had the impression that you were. If you just wore pigtails and looked professional otherwise... I'm sure most people could accept that. But if you go all the way and do things like wear pants with holes... well, then you might run into problems.

    Again, the choice has to be yours. Don't be too quick to listen to someone else. If you really feel that not dressing your own way is wrong, you might well come to regret it if you give in. Only you can decide whether you're willing to make it harder on yourself by trying to go a less-traveled path, or sacrifice something to make it easier. I guess it comes down to this... do you really feel like you would be violating yourself if you gave in, or do you just not like to dress that way? If it's the first... then be yourself. If it's the second... you should consider giving in.

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