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Andrew B. Klafter, MD
Extended: Psychotherapists and other mental health professionals are frequently asked questions by their friends and relatives such as, “Are you analyzing me right now?” or, “Are you telling me that you think I have OCD?” In every discipline of psychotherapy, it is considered unethical to make a diagnosis in an individual who has not actually come to see us for treatment. For example, it is unethical to diagnose celebrities or political leaders based on what we observe in their public behavior. However, we all know that we cannot help but notice defense mechanisms, personality styles, cognitive distortions, and symptoms of mental illness in our friends, neighbors, spouses, parents, children, cousins, and rabbis. In fact, the only people that we are truly adept at and keeping outside our psychotherapeutic radar are ourselves. In this, Dr. Klafter will explore the impact of our psychotherapeutic knowledge on marriages, our friendships, parenting, and religious lives. To what degree does our professional training and knowledge of human psychology influence how we understand others. Does it make us more understanding or more judgmental? More compassionate or more arrogant? With examples from the real lives of therapists and a review of this sparse literature, Dr. Klafter will argue that, in fact, psychotherapy has an impact on one’s professional identity and that it is impossible not to be influenced by our knowledge of feelings, emotions, cognition, and development. Just as an architect who enters his friend’s home will notice things and a therapist will not, a therapist who goes on a date will notice things that an architect will not. A significant portion of time will be set aside for participants to answer questions and share personal vignettes, which are put to the audience by Dr. Klafter.
Brief Summary: Klafter will explore how training and work in psychotherapy impact the therapist’s way of understanding and engaging with others, influencing his or her social relationships in profound, unintended ways. Audience members will be encouraged to participate and share their personal views and experiences in response to provocative questions put to the group.
Explain why it is considered unethical in every mental health discipline to form a diagnosis for individuals who are not our actual patients.
Identify instances where we do, at least privately, form conclusions about the psychological difficulties of people in our social lives.
Describe the impact of our knowledge of the human mind on our social relationships of various types (e.g., romantic, friendly, filial, and pastoral).
Consider situations where this phenomenon becomes an occupational hazard and requires supervision or psychotherapy.
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