The ‘New Norm’:  this is as good as it gets

The ‘New Norm’: this is as good as it gets


‘The New Norm’. I have a BIG issue with this concept.


Has life gone to shit? More importantly, are therapists saying ‘be okay’ with your situation regardless? As Dr. Phil would say: ‘How is that working for you?’


THE NEW NORM is the idea that your situation simply isn’t going to improve.


Therapists, peers, and mental health professionals need to ‘help’ their consumers be at greater peace with their situation. The only issue then is what constitutes ‘help’Professionals in mental health cant agree. Misapplication of techniques and misdiagnosis complicates everything further. Without the proper treatment fit, how is anyone supposed to track recovery progress accurately? 

Another skill people in mental health grossly misapply (which makes the treatment fit challenging to decipher) is called radical acceptance. Misuse of this skill can be just as disabling, if not more harmful, than someone losing behavioral control. There is a fine line here before helpful becomes harmful. In the mental health realm, practitioners are too clumsy when paying attention to crossing this line. 


Finding the Best Treatment

Indeed, the climate in the rooms at mental health seminars, retreats, and the next team meeting at a local agency is never on the same page. Even when it comes down to our very intentions of helping folks in distress, how to do so has become a bit nebulous lately in the field. The blip in the agreement between practitioners on best practices makes the helping process even more beguiling. When the helping profession cannot agree on what help means?! Unfortunately, there is no consensus (not even close!) through care systems in Eurocentric expressions of mental health treatment or the reform movement because help is far too unique to the individual. We are working with people with different cross-sections of society.

The manifestation of any “disorder” or symptom (for those that lean towards DSM-oriented frameworks for positing mental health issues as a constellation of illnesses requiring treatment) will differ. Even for folks on the other end of the spectrum (and it is just that, a range of stances), the real issue at hand continues to fascinate people in mental health.

Understanding these issues at hand as a direct or indirect result of complex traumas or learned behaviors from environmental, discriminatory, or any number of nonorganic and codifying approaches to framing what the person needing makes it profoundly difficult to define the idea of help.


Self-Awareness and Insight

Other insight-oriented cognitive processes make us think more about our behavior. Thinking about our actions and behaviors does not mean guarantee making a. healthy decision. After all, at this point, sadness and knowing things are going well. Being more aware does not mean choosing to do the right thing in every situation.

Holding on to the belief solving a problem is futile is an even bigger problem. Therapists cannot gauge where people are in terms of the intensity of the symptom and its persistence/chronicity regarding patient safety. The risk of potential harm is even more dangerous. Now, this is just one symptom in a giant galaxy of human behavior. More expressions and twice, many outcomes exist depending on the contributing factors we discussed earlier.

Now, this writer thinks very highly of himself and his colleagues. Despite these lofty beliefs, this writer is also a realist and needs to be pragmatic at work as a therapist. Not even the most skilled and calculating clinician or peer can predict or calculate every outcome (reading the DSM backward and forwards or as an expert in human behavior). Unless the therapist is supernaturally clairvoyant and can read into the future with their clinical gaze, there are always incidents in this line of work. 


Peer and Collateral Support

Peer relationships, friendships can suffer tremendous interpersonal failure in the wake of behaviors that are not prosocial. As a friend or a peer, how many figurative slaps in the face with untoward behavior will you take before dropping a disordered peer? Radical acceptance of a sad person’s feeling comes with the peer’s mutual responsibility to accept these persons where they are at with life, right? I mean, how can we practice mutuality and not be realistic about a sad person’s potential behaviors when they do not feel well?

Some friends may claim to be supportive. Some reality testing here. Let us be honest if this were in a job situation. Even within family systems, some behaviors warrant immediate police intervention beyond a friend’s support.Threatening an ally and putting them at risk of harm, this friend must call the authorities. 

So many symptoms truly make prosocial interaction far too complex to practice radical acceptance without sitting on a vast litany of other interventions. Knowing the therapy craft will determine the practitioner’s or peers’ ability to identify this line and select an appropriate intervention congruent with a client’s clinical picture’s shifting nature. Increasingly tricky as old symptoms can manifest unpredictably. Understanding this will go a long way in reducing possible resentment and anger from allies regarding unexplainable behaviors or symptoms.


Radical Acceptance

When practicing radical acceptance, making decisions about safety may not be mutual. Instead, how comfortable a friend is with active symptoms and how adequate friends obtain support. Sometimes, like all relationships, the decision will not always be mutual. Be prepared for that sobering possibility.

There is no question that friends of someone carrying a mental health diagnosis deserve our unconditional radical acceptance of their symptoms and recovery journeys. Unfortunately, be prepared for times when this may not always be possible due to the nature of so many things that can go wrong with our mental health.

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