Thursday, November 10, 2005

"Does this therapist have...issues?"

Reader "Bill" sends this e-mail:
I am trying to choose a new therapist. One has good qualifications, but I'm concerned because she is very overweight. Please, don't take this as criticizing anyone overweight. I have troubles with that myself. But does it indicate the therapist has issues and I should avoid her? you may blog this
It's not easy to choose a therapist. Degrees, certifications, work history, and recommendations can indicate competence. But patients must ask themselves: am I comfortable sharing thoughts with this therapist? Do we connect? Can I trust this person? What sort of help can this therapist give me? Therapists are prepared to address these questions with new clients. Sometimes patients interview several therapists before finding the right "fit."

I think you'd be hard pressed to find a therapist who hasn't grappled with personal challenges. The question becomes, how have they coped with their issues? What have they learned, and how can they use what they've learned to help others? If this therapist's credentials are truly impeccable, I'd certainly consider starting therapy and giving it a try. You may find that she has particular strengths that are helpful.

Other questions I'd consider: "What is it about this therapist's weight, that's giving me pause? Is it suggesting issues in my own life that are difficult for me to face? Is she reminding me of other important people in my life, and am I reacting to her in ways that I might react to them? Would I feel comfortable discussing the whole issue of obesity with this therapist? And...what issues am I possibly avoiding, by focusing on weight?"

What do you think? Comments are welcome!


Blogger Greg P said...

I would hope that people choose a therapist with something other than a random search through the Yellow Pages, or God forbid, some internet picture search tool. And hopefully, your recommended therapist would have positive features that relate to the reason why you're seeing a therapist, and really those features have little to do with size, race, gender or other such visual issues.

6:07 PM  
Blogger just one of many said...

I think there are a few reasons someone may be overweight that have nothing at all to do with their mental health. My nephew was extremely overweight...110 lbs at 5 years old. This child had GSD and had never in his entire life eaten by mouth. Also, overweight by who's standards? By the fashion industries standards, I am dramatically obese...per my doc's standard...I could lose 20 - 30 lbs.

Choosing a therapist should be based on if you are able to connect and what their qualifications are...not how they look. EVERYONE has issues. ;)

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who doesn't have issues? No one is perfect, even therapists. This may be a temporary problem, or one that she hasn't been successful in confronting. It doesn't make her less qualified as a therapist, it may make her more empathetic to some clients. We have a heart hospital in our city, and the heart surgeons do tv commercials promoting it. A couple of months ago they added a female surgeon to their commercials. She was extremely obese, and the commercials didn't run very long. I'm assuming there was criticism of her, asking why a heart surgeon, of all people, would be that heavy. Most people expect those in the medical field to be perfect, and are very judgemental when they're not.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Dr. Luke Van Tessel said...

My therapist is in great shape. I am not. I am good at medicine. My therapist is not. She's a little bit country.

Here's the thing: She saved my life. She probably could have done it 50 pounds heavier; I think she runs to relieve the stress of doing therapy.

Some therapists eat a lot of Hershey's kisses.

It's the 50 minutes that counts--not what your shrink does on his or her private time. I don't care if she murders small animals or eats human flesh as long as she's good at what she does. There are so many seemingly well adjusted awful therapists out there that I'll take a normal person who can help me any day of the week. As Atul Gawande said, "We are all in the hands of flawed human beings."

10:21 PM  
Blogger Zoe said...

This is just an opinion- but even personal trainers can get overweight when they end up transferring to a new University and having to spend 6-10 hours a week commuting and then focusing on homework and household responsibilities... but that's just coming from a former personal trainer and student.

5:58 PM  

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