Last week, I flew out to Portland, OR to attend the Association for Humanistic Counseling conference. I was scheduled to co-present a workshop on experiential learning with a professor from my graduate program, and I couldn’t wait to make my official appearance on the humanistic scene for the first time in my counseling career.
Heavy metal music is arguably the most misunderstood style of music in the entertainment world. Metal heads consistently get a bad rep. They are thought of as secret members of a demented cult, harboring satanic allegiances and wishing death upon their fellow man. They are misconstrued in the media as hateful, drug addicted, and ceaselessly violent decedents of the “Trenchcoat Mafia,” or as outcasts, “freaks”, or enemies of modern society.
I’ve been doing some thinking about ACA Conference 2016 and the possibility of presenting a poster discussion. It has struck me that our graduate programs still lack a standardized, required course in suicide assessment, intervention, and legalities/ethical considerations for involuntary hospitalization.
If we think about the goals of counseling, a client’s death is clearly the absolute worst possible outcome. It seems a glaring deficiency in our gatekeeping process that neophyte counselors aren’t required to study theory and technique on the assessment, counsel, and ethical management of a client presenting with suicidal ideation and behavior.
Last week, I had an interesting conversation with an extremely analytical friend of mine that turned my sights upon an issue I believe many people don’t even know they are facing. The discussion was about emotions, and their usefulness in decision-making. I’ve found that many people believe that there is a clear difference between thinking and feeling. To most of us, these two common human processes are experienced very differently, and we often opt to make our decisions based on one preference or the other.
A substantial portion of the people struggling with mental illness that I have spoken to recently seem not to understand the crucial importance of psychotherapy to their long-term healing. These are people who were prescribed medicine for their condition, and are now under the impression that faithfully taking their daily dosage will completely cure their illness.
I am currently reading a fascinating book entitled God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens is an excellent author, one of the most talented journalists of our time and certainly one of the foremost critics of religion. Upon reading through one of it’s chapters titled “Religion’s Corrupt Beginnings,” I came across a discussion of a practice I admittedly know very little about: Mormonism. Hitchen’s discussion of the beginnings of Mormonism criticize its founder, Joseph Smith, of being an opportunistic liar with a personal agenda and a long history of conning the public.
Hitchens says a lot about Smith and describes the founding of the Mormon Church in good detail, yet shrewd as his observations are, he fails to reach the conclusion that I am tempted to draw: Joseph Smith was likely a sociopath.