A friend emailed this article, asking what I thought, since I once was in a similar situation:
To make a long story short, Michele Serros goes to a therapist. The therapist works from home, her background is entirely disconnected from Serros’s:
But from appearances alone, my new therapist didn’t seem to be in desperate need of my postdated checks. Displayed on the walls of her garden-level home office were her and her husband’s multiple Ivy League degrees; original, signed lithographs; and family photos documenting graduations and European vacations: three generations portrayed in celebration and cable-knit sweaters. My therapist wore silk blouses, stylish gauchos and knee-high boots to our sessions; a sizable diamond ring weighed down her left hand.
I, meanwhile, arrived in baggy sweats and hastily chosen T-shirts, there to talk about a life that couldn’t have seemed more of a contrast: my grudge-holding, working-class Mexican American family (who can’t share a holiday meal, let alone an entire trip); the nine years it took me to graduate from college; the ring finger recently bared by divorce. During our first few sessions, as I struggled with particular pieces of dysfunction, I worried about whether this woman, my therapist, could possibly understand where I was coming from and whether she’d judge my entire ethnic group by the stories I was sharing with her.
In my situation the therapist and I had much more in common when it came to social/educational/financial backgrounds, but I digress.
After eight months of therapy, the therapist hasn’t paid much attention to Serras’s background and naturally assumes that Serras, a fourth-generation American of Mexican background, is the person to ask when the therapist’s housekeeper – an illegal alien – got picked up by Immigration. The therapist had no clue as to whether her housekeeper even had papers.
This from a professional who earns a living through diligent observation and inquiry. Was she that naive? Was she faking it? How could someone with so many fancy degrees not know how to find the appropriate help? And how could she know I wasn’t pro-wall, as I’ve been surprised to find many Latinos are, discreetly?
This are all very good questions, but the one question Serras should have confronted her with is,
Then, to add financial injury to insult, the therapist spent Serras’s session on immigration issues.
Serras dropped that therapist, and none too soon.
Later, another friend would joke about the situation, suggesting that I should have billed for my time. But I had a few other concerns: Why the sadness? Why the anger? What am I feeling now?
I’m still sorting out the issue with my new therapist.
I’m sure Serras is a very nice girl who wants to oblige, particularly when going trough a difficult time in her life. I used to be like that.
Then one day I woke up when a comparable situation arose, and decided that wisdom, judgment, discernment, compassion and integrity – and even a modicum of professionalism – don’t come with a psychology degree, so I told the therapist off and walked away halfway through a session.
That was very therapeutic indeed, Michele.