Why Psychotherapists Shouldn’t Be Shrinks?


On occasions when people might inquire as to what type of work I do, I’d typically respond that I practice psychotherapy. I often hear the response, “Oh, so you’re a shrink.” My reaction to the term shrink is that I’d rather expand than shrink. Although my comment might be taken as somewhat ‘slick’, it really speaks to my worldview and my intention to practice a psychology that is in consistent with this shift; evolving as opposed to reducing.

Psychotherapy, for the large part, has been rooted in an old pattern of reality, which values reductive thinking and objective analysis. From this perspective, based upon certainty and determinism, we believe that with sufficient information we can drill down to the root causes of an individual’s afflictions. So our focus is often on the cause, hence reductive thinking and the term, shrink.

Traditionally, if you look for the depression in a person you will see a depressed person. In this circumstance you will treat their depression as you have been trained, working with the depression rather than the potential life energy of that individual. Instead, if you see them as a person who has lost their vision of life, lost without a sense of meaning and purpose and mired in fear and disconnection, you might well enter their life field with hope and support, working toward creating and actualizing a new experience. The different possibility of therapeutic outcomes is very much dependent upon the beliefs and perspective of the treating therapist. The energy of the relationship is more fundamental to the treatment than the consideration of the analytical assessment of the difficulty.

Several years ago I was introduced to a psychiatrist from a neighboring town. He proudly told me that within minutes of meeting a new patient he had them completely diagnosed. I paused, as I considered my response. I offered to him that when I work with someone I try not to fill my head with my own internal ‘rundown’ of their situation, for that would only serve to separate me from the from the unfolding process that we’re about to embark upon.


DrBev is a National Certified Counselor, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and a Certified Gestalt Psychotherapist, Seminar - WorkShop Facilitator, Radio Personality, Author and President and Educational Director of DrBev Mental Health Counseling.
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