The Freedom of Ignorance
I often have the opportunity to learn from my clients and recently I had another such moment. She came to me feeling very disturbed by what she termed "freedom of ignorance", or the tendency in others to assume they understand her situation; so much so that they dared to offer her solutions to her problems. As she went on I couldn't help but think that the phrase would make a great title for a book or article.
As easy as it is to understand my client's complaint, it's just as easy to understand the motive of the person offering their unsolicited opinion. How freeing to offer up one's "off the top of my head" solution to their predicament. Ah, but later – having listened more, researched more, thought more – I can better understand that client's "dance through life" and I'm embarrassed . Exercising one's right to free speech needn't be an embarrassment though, as long we remember to give two gifts, one to my client and one to myself.
The gift to another is giving them the sense that you've listened, that they've been heard, and that they're worthy of being heard. Bestowing that feeling of having been heard upon another is among the greatest of gifts we, as therapists, give. As no two humans are exactly alike, we are all outliers. To understand is not always easy, but speakers like those offered by IE-CAMFT can make it easier.
Now, the gift to myself is education. Once again, the monthly IE-CAMFT training/CEU opportunities make that easy. The speakers provide context on a variety of subjects, and presenters become resources from whom to learn more in the future. The effect, if successful, means the difference between feeling embarrassed by my own ignorance or knowing that I got it, or at least I'm getting it. What prevents me from getting it is not what I don't know, rather it is being cavalier about my own ignorance.
I love being part of IE-CAMFT. I'm glad to be a part of the bigger picture. It keeps me hopeful.
Paul Velen, MS, LMFT