I’m a therapist. It’s my job to listen, right?
In the office, yes. Out of the office… It’s becoming my job to speak. I’m impatient to speak.
Our political divide has deepened insidiously into families, communities. It has deteriorated from name calling on Facebook to brother disengaging from brother. We are rapidly losing points of human connection in our society, and with it, our democracy.
The Civil War has always felt like a strange and distant historical phenomenon to me in my upstate New York home. But last weekend, I visited a Southern plantation. I learned the history of a New York regiment destroying the original buildings of the plantation. I imagined a nation turned against itself. The strange and distant historical phenomenon felt less strange and distant.
We know a divided nation; it’s ours.
We tell stories of friend turned against friend (or rather, unfriended); Thanksgiving dinners gone silent; separations over discussions that I used to call “politics” and I now call “matters of human decency.”
I have hesitated to speak out; I didn’t think it was in my job description as a licensed mental health counselor. But since the election, in our divided nation, the listening is just not enough.
To meet diagnostic criteria for various anxiety disorders, often an individual’s reaction must be considered out of proportion to the threat at hand. Panic in the face of an angry tiger would not constitute a disorder; it is, in fact, a survival mechanism. Some situations require that we address the tiger in the room, not just work to accommodate the response of anxiety that results. The listening is just not enough…
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Johanna Bond, LMHC, NCC, is a licensed mental health counselor and a writer living in Rochester, New York. Ms. Bond is constantly exploring the interaction between mental and physical health, both personally and professionally. As a counselor, she works in private practice at Perspectives Mental Health Counseling (www.perspectivesroc.com). She hosts a blog at www.startingfromscratch.me and is currently writing her first book about rising to the challenge of a severe food allergy diagnosis.