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  1. #1

    Default Self-expression in professional settings.

    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.

  2. #2
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Yes, I think so. Psychotherapists should have as much right to choose how they dress as anyone else.

    I can't promise that some clients wouldn't judge you for it, but the ones who would probably aren't the kind you'd want to work with anyway.

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    Senior Member King sns's Avatar
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    Um. This is intense post for a matter of wearing pigtails at work.

    But anyway, i'm doing my clinical on a psychiatric unit right now. I think that clients like to see that humans are taking care of them. 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.

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    Senior Member Anja's Avatar
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    Maybe it makes a difference what type of client the professional is working with? For effective confrontation a therapist needs to make a connection with the person first.

    I imagine a certain amount of artifice could be used to make that connection but I would hope that authenticity in his appearance is what the professional would be most influenced by. And discretion.

    Probably just goes to show that people in the mental health business are just as prone to social trends as anyone.

    But I'd prefer all my professionals, psychiatric and otherwise, to maintain an air of professionalism in their carriage, their appearance and their speech. If I were going to a person with the explicit purpose of having him tinker about in my head I'd want to feel assured that while I was talking about the death of my grandmother he wasn't thinking, "Gee. I wonder if my nose ring is hanging crooked."

    The sadder fact is that people in the mental health business are about as prone to folly as the general population. Sigh.
    "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

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    Senior Member Anja's Avatar
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    A second thought, Not. It is wise, I think, when climbing the ladder to present in the ideal way. When one is established and has crediblity, people know where you're coming from, and make room for idioscyncracies with more comfort about you.

    Edit: It won't be about you or your hair eventually so learning to practice flexibility will serve you well.
    "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. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anja View Post
    A second thought, Not. It is wise, I think, when climbing the ladder to present in the ideal way. When one is established and has crediblity, people know where you're coming from, and make room for idioscyncracies with more comfort about you.

    Edit: It won't be about you or your hair eventually so learning to practice flexibility will serve you well.
    I am all about "climbing the ladder" so-to-speak, but I want it to be done authentically. I, personally, don't think I could "fake-it" even if only for a short while because I would feel like I got their artificially... I would feel like a phony; like I had achieved false success; like I had presented an image... and the 'image' was bought opposed to my true self.

    Does that make sense?

    I, personally, want to be real in every aspect of the word... so on the way 'there' and when I'm there. I can't follow the yellow brick road... I need to follow an authentic road, not one that's paved and reconstructed.

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    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    I think it depends on context and the people you are working with.

    You're there to do a job, not to self-express... until self-expression enables you to do your job better. In general, you need to build an environment that feels safe and instills confidence in the patient that you are indeed someone who is trustworthy enough to open up to and receive advice from.

    If you're trying to counsel people who your self-expression might derail that process, then you need to find a new crowd of people to counsel or get another line of work.

    Also, it's not 'either/or' -- utterly self-express or not self-express at all. you can find ways to self-express without going completely over the top... a few subtle tweaks to the image might satisfy your need to self-express while still not rocking the boat completely and ruining the patient's trust in you.

    (For the record, I'm not a therapist but give advice/counsel people, and I'm a "real person" ... people have come to me from more structured settings, such as religious ones, because they know I'm safe for them to be 'human' around and not have to keep up a pretense. I'm off the beaten path a bit, without making people nervous, in terms of appearance.)

    Again, I don't think you're there for "you" -- you're there for the people you're helping. Their perceptions and needs are what need to be addressed first.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

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  8. #8
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Not2bforgot10 View Post
    I am all about "climbing the ladder" so-to-speak, but I want it to be done authentically. I, personally, don't think I could "fake-it" even if only for a short while because I would feel like I got their artificially... I would feel like a phony; like I had achieved false success; like I had presented an image... and the 'image' was bought opposed to my true self.

    Does that make sense?

    I, personally, want to be real in every aspect of the word... so on the way 'there' and when I'm there. I need to follow an authentic road, not paved and reconstructed.
    It makes perfect sense to me. I wouldn't be able to live with something like that either.

    Anja's advice is very practical (if a bit severe in my opinion), so you have to think... do you care about feeling like you've been authentic, or do you just care about success and getting ahead? You have to live with your choice, so you should decide what consequences you feel you could live with.

    But personally... I can't imagine many people having a problem with something as basic as pigtails. That sounds like an extremely conservative and strict perspective that probably isn't as common as it once might have been (Let's just say I wouldn't have a lot of respect for someone who was that petty). Edgier kinds of self-expression might make a problem, though.

  9. #9
    Emperor/Dictator kyuuei's Avatar
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    How is this bad?

    "...This is embarrassing! I can't say this part." '.. More embarrassing than Pig tails??' " Well.. I guess when I was 15--blahblahblah"

    Works in my head
    Kantgirl: Just say "I'm feminine and I'll punch anyone who says otherwise!"
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    prplchknz: i don't like it

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  10. #10
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Not2bforgot10 View Post
    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.
    To be professional is to be as authentic as anything else... just as you think as pigtails as cute from social cues (ie: it is socially conditioned trait associated with younger women), so do people think professionalism to other traits.

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

    I don't think I would recommend it, as I think that professionalism is a very large part of certain fields, and while therapists are not quite as bound by these rules and can inject their own styles a lot more, I think appearance plays a part. Most therapists want their job to be taken more seriously, in my experience, while others do think of it as "just helping others".

    Also (from the top quote as well), they are not there to know who you are... and they are there to let you know who they are. I can see an argument for being more familiar, although I don't believe this is recommended in therapy situations. Professionalism is also an intentional barrier, and dress code signals that.

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