Psychotherapy in a disposable world.
I heard somewhere recently that the world is changing and therefore psychotherapists ought to change with it. This sounds reasonable and in some ways must be true. Technology is changing and some of us have begun having skype sessions with our clients who may live several provinces, if not countries away. This seems reasonable and offers people more access to our services.
The problem, it seems to me, is one of a conflict between offering a service to a market on the one hand and offering a conversation about the world someone lives in on the other. In other words, at what point does psychotherapy become about social criticism? Just because the world is changing doesn't mean that any individual need go along with it.
One illustration of what I mean is in the context of relationships. North America seems to be labouring under various fantasies of what relationships should be: "the one", "my soulmate", "the love of my life". There are countless reasons we have these fantasies and others have explored them better than I can. My point is with all these ideals floating around, we are inherently never going to be satisfied by any relationship because it will never live up to these ideals. How could it? We live in a culture that tells us to never be satisfied with discomfort, with frustration, with conflict. There is no way of having a conversation about a relationship being worth the struggle. That over time, something strong and rich can come out of conflict and compromise. It's a question of degree of course, and sometimes we really are better to walk away from something. But only after we have really extended ourselves and each other.
It has been said that psychodynamic ideas are really ways to disillusion people out of various fantasies into a perhaps sadder, but more earthbound and enduring way of seeing others and the world. Perhaps we have created a culture where we see things like relationships as disposable, like so many outdated iPhones, because they can never be perfect and the "one" is always just around the corner.
Cultures change - this is inevitable - but as individuals, we can consciously shape that change.