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Thread: Self-expression in professional settings.

  1. #21


    Quote Originally Posted by nightning View Post
    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.
    I would rather it cost me the extra time in all honesty, because I would want to radiate the utmost authenticity to my client. Since I believe that change starts with us and that we set the example for others to follow, I would want to be myself in a way so that the client can feel free to be them self.

  2. #22


    Quote Originally Posted by Anja View Post
    I hope we'll hear from you again, Not.

    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.
    I never believe that being true to yourself gets in the way of growth, ever. We allow it to. --via expectations and resulted judgments. In fact, I think that NOT being ourselves can get in the way of our growth. If we are silenced and not able to be ourselves, we hinder our growth. Moreover, we are susceptible to health problems. It is very unhealthy to not be able to express yourself. I believe that everyone should be allowed a voice, and I feel sorry for those who are too uncomfortable with themselves to respect that in others. We are given these "messages" growing up (via society, etc) and they are not always correct. If we are to be intelligent human beings and have respect for all others, different races, ages, genders, etc, then we MUST be willing to challenge out own assumptions. Not challenging our own assumptions in and of itself I would define as ignorance, and ignorance breeds hatred and eventually violence. It is important that we question and that we take an honest look at ourselves and our patterns/beliefs that have resulted in the person we are today.

  3. #23
    Senior Member Array Anja's Avatar
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    May 2008


    I am glad that you are willing to challenge your own assumptions, Not. You are correct, I think, in that value.
    "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

  4. #24


    question.. would you wear pigtails for an interview? if you had facial piercings (for example, 3 lip rings along your bottom lip), would you take them out? and so on.. what would be appropriate in those situations?

    in my case, I did have 3 lip rings (several years ago).. and, I didn't get the job.

    the sentiment i like the most in this thread is that we have society's expectations vs our need for self-expression. somewhere in the middle there is simply a human element.. people don't want to deal with robots in lab coats so being human & down to earth (with pigtails or not) is valuable.

    in my experience, different employers have different expectations. one wanted clean desks and to 'dress up' for work (lame) yet my current one doesn't care what I wear or if my desk is clean.

    for psychotherapists specifically.. seems like it would come down to the type of clients.

    think that when people change their style they are giving into society's judgmentalness and stereotypes.
    i don't know.. i think there's a need to fit or conform in groups, we all do it

  5. #25
    Senior Member Array Anja's Avatar
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    May 2008


    Well, and I was thinking the other day that in the case of psychotherapy learning to be flexible about other people's needs would be a valuable skill to practice. A set-in-stone attitude about anything would be a hindrance to forming a relationship with a client whose attitudes were different than yours.
    "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

  6. #26
    Senior Member Array whimsical's Avatar
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    Feb 2009


    in the end it's all about who you are inside so why not

  7. #27
    in-game Array Gamine's Avatar
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    Nov 2008


    Unless you were the absolute best in the group of people interviewed for that position, I probably would not have hired you. Your job requires you to dig deep and really give something honest to the people you are working with, and it sounds like you care about them. As an employer and a coworker, I would perceive your pigtail-rebellion as a sign that you cared more about yourself than your clients. Your words contradict this.

    What other ways can you think of to be professional and personal? I'm sure you can think of ways to be authentic and personal, while putting the emphasis back where it belongs: being competent.
    "Beware Those Who Are ALWAYS READING BOOKS" - Bukowski

  8. #28
    RETIRED Array CzeCze's Avatar
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    Sep 2007


    I think in lines with what Jennifer was saying - it depends on the crowd/clientele you are trying to attract and serve.

    Psychotherapy, especially private practice (which is what most is, right?) is like any other small business - you put your own spin on things and cater to a certain segment. I know there are therapists who specialize in GLBT issues and clients and probably appreciate being able to be totally out and not worry about how it will impact their practice. I think people who consider themselves to be non-conformist or identify strongly with a lifestyle or set of values or religion may prefer seeing a therapist who also shares their lifestyle, values, or just aesthetic.

    Even in an 'expression neutral' environment with beige walls and lab coats, there is still a metanarrative/a story that a potential client perceives. The goal of being 'neutral' is that all things being equal, the familiar and (tastefully) mundane is the least offensive and therefore most universally accepted standard. That's also why house flippers make the most generic and neutral renovations (albeit tasteful if they want to make the most money) in houses for resale. I think it's a similar theory for self-expression and the workplace - how inoffensive and universally acceptable are you?

    However, you may decide to specialize and position yourself in a niche market. You know that your self-expression choices may confuse or even alienate some potential clients, however, those very things will strongly attract a certain kind of client.

    So I think it just comes down to being mindful of how you are expressing yourself and being aware of how it is affecting your practice and the client's experience.
    “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.” ― Oscar Wilde

    "I'm outtie 5000" ― Romulux


  9. #29


    Quote Originally Posted by shortnsweet View Post
    I know that you aren't allowed to talk about yourself. (Which is fine by me.) But I think to show little signs of self-expression through clothes, style, and facial expression shows that you are human and not robot, allowing clients to open up to you more, therefore can be therapeutic. That's my opinion.

    Vulnerability breeds trust. If you share anything about yourself, either through subtle self-expression or sharing something about yourself, the patient will likely feel more comfortable talking with you.

    Me? I tend to have all-out conversations with my therapists, depending on how much they'll "allow" me to delve into their personal lives. During the first session that I had with my current one, we found out that we both played bass guitar, and she told me that she had regular gigs down at a local restaurant

    Generalizing "at the workplace".. yeah, I usually dress for what I have going on that night, rather than for the job (customer and business development meetings notwithstanding). That means that I'll wear jeans and a T-shirt one day and khakis and a tucked-in polo the next. Makes me look a bit inconsistent, but, hey, there's my self-expression

  10. #30
    pathwise dependent Array FDG's Avatar
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    Aug 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by TwinkleToes View Post
    you cared more about yourself than your clients.
    Hey, if I was a business owner, I would totally NOT hire somebody that was so stupid that he cared more about the clients than himself! That's agains any evolutionary mechanism.
    ENTj 7-3-8 sx/sp

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