Sunday, 17 July 2016

Why Counsellors Need To Understand Economics.

Again and again I find myself having to start at the very beginning when it comes to explaining why we are where we are. Counselling is part of the everyday world, not something apart from it. We are subject to exactly the same forces, fashions and mindsets as everyone else.

It used to be that only rich ladies had the time, money and enough people telling them they were neurotic (poor women were just plain mad) to seek analysis. Over time therapy became more widespread but the rich were treated entirely differently from the poor. Officers in the First World War had "neurasthenia" while ordinary soldiers were often diagnosed with the "women's disease" of hysterics. Mentally ill poor people were punished and many (though by no means all) mentally ill rich people went on holiday for their 'nerves.' Still today, we see poor people under entirely ideological stress being punished for being stressed while when rich people who produce nothing and pay fewer taxes than poor people behave strangely are 'eccentric'.

Counselling buys into this. 

We treat the client as an individual. The concept of an individual is by no means universal and it is central to therapy:

"The right of the individual to freedom and self-realization"  
 is a socialist concept. (Developed because workers were treated in the same way as tools or machine parts and as a troublesome mass that should be starved to death for their own good.)

"Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values." 

is a quote from Ayn Rand, and indeed many of her most famous quotes might come from a counselling theorist. Read through a selection here. Really DO THIS before you stick an Ayn Rand motivational poster on your site, as any number of counsellors have done because they don't know who Ayn Rand was!

We blindly accept that 'The Market' rules our lives and the lives of our clients. If you accept that ethics are not applicable when you or your counselling agency are seeking funding then of course the market is in charge. Because you are allowing it to be. It's like standing in front of a lorry and blaming the lorry for running you over, because you can't possibly be expected to move.

Anyway, rather than write a thesis here, please take 10 minutes to watch this video from Ha-Joon Chang from the Faculty of Economics at Cambridge. 

Economics is not a natural law like the sun coming up or winter. We have choices. Who is benefiting from you believing  you have no choice?

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