‘The standard diagnostic formulation tells the therapist nothing about the unique person he or she is encountering; and there is substantial evidence that diagnostic labels impede or distort listening.’
Irvin Yalom: Existential Psychotherapy
Yes, Yalom’s comment is daily evidenced in our experience at this service.
The people who come here to work with us often bring with them diagnostic labels. Most frequently people describe experiencing these as unhelpful – their sense that the label-dealing ‘professionals’ have missed who they actually are, and their personal meanings; that the labels have obstructed – not supported – the healing journeys they are seeking to make. Sometimes people experience the labels as helpful, at least initially – but there often seems to be a substantial sting in the tail of this, as the therapeutic process unfolds.
For the writer, therapy supports the emerging of a person – the more whole and realized person we each have it in us to become. In our experience, that process also tends to involve an emerging from (and a shedding of) whatever labels we may have picked up along the way….A movement from external locus to internal, from introjected values to organismic experiencing and accurate symbolization – and that is as much the case where the external locus/introjected value arises in relationship with a medical professional, as where it arises in relationship with a parent.
Whatever place diagnostic labels may have in the unique journeys of those who come to work with us, we are clear in experiencing a liking for diagnostic labels as unhelpful in a therapist. We look for therapists who do not assume such labels to be repositories of truth or reality – and who we believe have it in them to offer a depth of relationship, presence and the core conditions to each unique person they encounter in their work.
Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter