Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D,B.C.S.A.,DAPA.

Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D,B.C.S.A.,DAPA.
e-mail: batushkad@yahoo.com

Thursday, December 30, 2010


A colleague asked me about the first person I had worked with as a psychotherapist. Granted, prior I had provided counseling as a chaplain, my first actual therapeutic encounter was in 1999. I visited a psychiatric ward where an 18 year old trans-gender person was a patient. He had engaged in some self-mutilation and his family life was disastrous. I was told his name, but he asked me to refer to him by a female name, which respectfully, I did. I will admit some initial discomfort myself and wondering if I would be able to make a connection. I chose to simply listen to his tragic story and I learned of the brutality he experienced in his family and the challenges he faced with issues concerning his gender identity. The focus of our time was merely 'being with' and supporting. I was greatly concerned for this person, and after our brief time together inquired often about his status after he was discharged. I was pleasantly surprised that he had found a trans-gender minister who was able to guide him further and things began to ease for him.
This was my first lesson in learning about the importance of listening, supporting, and the building of relationship as the fundamentals in emotional healing. Shortly after this, when working with a community based mental health agency, I was assigned a 12 year old boy who many had given up on, as he was diagnosed as 'psychotic' and had an extensive history in the psychiatric system. No one else wanted to deal with him. Though his situation was quite challenging, I was able to develop a strong alliance and we worked through many complicated issues. I later asked why I was chosen to work with him after being told he was the 'most difficult client', and was told that it was because of my ability to 'listen and connect'. I have carried this forward in all my future work with others, to be one who will 'journey with'. But the other key lesson was to understand that I must respect the autonomy of persons, even when they may make choices where I personally disagree. I had to not continue the patterns of control that had often enslaved and brought distress these persons, but to simply be a supportive person to share in their experience and to guide them through times of distress to a more hopeful place.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

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