What Should a Therapist Wear?

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“ Do n’t wear blouses and skirts with prints or patterns. Plain colors like beige, navy, and white work good. Choose childlike accessories like silver stud earrings and small pendants. never wear black. ”
A personal stylist didn ’ metric ton share this fashion advice with me ; my psychology professor did .
Psychologists like me are coach to pay close up attention to subtle non-verbal cues that emerge during a customer ’ s therapy hour. To do this, we try to eliminate ocular distractions by curating a serene space that resembles a cozy yet barren be room.

Some therapists — like my early professor — besides believe that wearing patterns and vibrant colors can be a distraction. They suggest erring on the side of caution and only wearing solid, achromatic colors, except for black. Black is a depressing tinge that many people associate with funerals .
I was a compliant student, but I didn ’ triiodothyronine follow this advice .
I ’ ve constantly enjoyed the art of dress, and manner is a form of creative construction that sparks my person. As a kid growing up in Nebraska in the 1980s, I eagerly awaited the arrival of the J.C. Penney catalog every season. I ’ vitamin d flip to the daughter ’ mho section and cut out pictures of pink and green tops, black and ashen affray skirts, and fancy lavender taffeta dresses, then work the individual photograph into composition outfits of my own making. While early kids spent their allowance on Cabbage Patch Kids and Care Bears, I saved my money for a pink and gloomy satin jacket. When I graduated with my doctor’s degree, I rewarded myself with a pair of total darkness leather Marc Jacobs Mary Janes .
Of course I wanted to be the best therapist I could be, but I didn ’ thyroxine want to negate my rage for manner — or my personality — by entirely wearing bore, monochromatic colors to work. In fact, on my first base day of make as a psychologist in the San Francisco Bay sphere, I wore a green A-line Anthropologie skirt adorned with birds and pale greens sandals decorated with delicate ashen daisies .
At the fourth dimension I worked with young adults, many of them female. Most of these women had never seen a therapist before. They sought help because of crippling anxiety, major depression, and relationship struggles. Often, they were hesitant to open up to me. But some of these patients commented that they liked my clothes, and the prints became ocular prompts that infused life into our sessions .
One of my early patients, a shy, youthful charwoman with social anxiety, struggled to express herself. In our initial sessions, there were long, painful silences. I sensed how unmanageable it was for her to open up .
But during one seance, she began the hour by commenting on my boo surround .
“ I like those birds, ” she said .
“ What do you like about them ? ” I asked .
She told me they reminded her of exemption. Using the metaphor of flight, we explored how her anxiety kept her from feeling carefree. She told me how her worries prevented her from traveling abroad, dating, and accepting invitations to parties .
“ Birds can fly alone, but they never seem alone, ” she said .
The shuttlecock became a focal distributor point of our sessions. even when it was difficult for my patient to talk about her anxiety, she could talk about the boo ’ s predicament with facilitate. We began to explore what changes she needed to make in order to feel detached, besides .
My patients have n’t constantly responded positively to my smell of dash, though. A decade ago, I had been treating a youthful womanhood who was struggling with body image concerns. During one of our sessions, I wore a bright pink vintage-inspired skirt and a black cardigan with miniature rosebud on it. My affected role looked at me and said she couldn ’ t stand my kit.

“ What bothers you about it ? ” I asked .
She told me it was besides “ cutesy ” and that she had imagined working with an older therapist, like Dr. Frasier Crane from Frasier .
We discussed how my clothing prevented her from taking me badly and thus trusting me .
“ You precisely don ’ thymine look like a real therapist, ” she said .
In our future sessions, I toned down my front. I inactive refused to embrace bland white, beige, and black. But I steered away from capricious printed skirts and floral cardigans, rather opting to brighten up dark blue tops with colorful necklaces .
I belated learned that my affected role ’ second mother had been a dandy. During adolescence, her mother had criticized her common sense of manner, which she had labeled as “ dowdy. ”
I made the connection between her childhood experience and my “ cutesy ” style and asked if the two were related. We laughed at the cliché “ mother ” transfer rendition, but she didn ’ t disagree .
Criticizing the way I dressed, she was able to voice feelings that she ’ vitamin d never been allowed to share with her own mother. Feeling comfortable enough to critique my equip helped her work through her anger at her mother for constantly trying to control what she ate and what she wore. It besides helped her recognize how her ma ’ mho sagacity had affected how she felt about her own body. She had always felt subscript to her mother, and my outfit had triggered similar feelings. She told me it helped that I had listened and allowed her to express her opinions .
recently, I was talking to a friend who was graduating with her master ’ s degree in psychology. As I told her about the nuts and bolts of beginning a secret rehearse, she besides asked me for advice about clothes .
“ Should I watch the means I dress when I begin my practice ? ” she asked. “ My adviser told me to dress in solid colors to maintain a ‘ inert ’ position. He besides mentioned that if you wear things like interior designer shoes, patients might see you as a certain ‘ type ’ of therapist, or ask excessively personal questions, ” she explained .
“ You don ’ t have to be a blank slate, ” I said, thinking back on how, over the years, my refusal to adhere to that standard-issue advice had helped both me and my clients grow .
I told her that a therapist ’ south equip is similar to the classical Rorschach inkblot batting order : It ’ s a ocular effigy that can invite and ignite our patients ’ projections, helping them tap into different parts of their psyches. “ Actually, I think it ’ s most important to be yourself. ”

Details have been altered to protect patient privacy .

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Category : Fashion

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