Instincts & Your Actions as a Professional: The “Gut” feeling in Practicing Therapy

Instincts & Your Actions as a Professional: The “Gut” feeling in Practicing Therapy

What happens when there is no clear answer. You don’t know what to do. What’s at stake? Your reputation. The future health of your client. Your peer, friend, or colleague in distress. This entry concerns itself with connecting with your gut and understanding your instincts when it comes to treatment and mental health care.

There is no scientific method for doing this & this entry is based on my experience as a peer, professional, and problem solver.

We all have questions in our lives that have no clear resolution. As professionals and people living out our natural lives when we enter the unknown.

Our instincts tell us how to navigate the unknown when all other information and experience fails us. It drives treatment forward through the dark annals of the unknown and creates solutions when there are no answers.

Getting in touch with these basic and most important feelings and thoughts is essential to any clinician or professional in mental health. Instincts are thoughts and feelings wrapped in a visceral response to what we are witnessing as professionals. To do this, you must get underneath the plausible and the facts. Sometimes logic, sometimes chaos; and definitely in between what is known and what remains to be revealed is a space where problems are transformed into solutions.

Getting past the glory of being the person who “righted the ship” and a miracle maker is fundamental. Sometimes the answer is accepting death. Accepting failure. You may be the bearer of bad news, but it’s news that needed to be told to move your client in the right direction.

Be bold and confident in the face of uncertainty. You’re working with people that are unsure of the future and fearful. They need a confident and down-to-earth worker meeting the consumer where they’re at, but also capable of driving treatment in a better direction.

Your actions and words will create a space for your consumer’s next steps. Be the worker that sets a standard on their path to recovery. Trust your instincts and teach your consumer to trust theirs. You will not always be there for them. Pass along this skill. It will be a device that serves your client in their darkest hour as it served you in your search for their treatment options when there were more questions than answers.

Edited: Autumn Tompkins

J. Peters

J. Peters

Max Guttman '08, MSW '12, is the owner of Recovery Now, a private mental health practice. Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, therapist and disability rights advocate, Max fights for those without a voice in various New York City care systems. He received a 2020 Bearcats of the Last Decade 10 Under 10 award from the Binghamton University Alumni Association. Guttman treats clients with anxiety and depression, but specializes in issues related to psychosis or schizoaffective spectrum disorders. He frequently writes on his lived experiences with schizophrenia. "I knew my illness was so complex that I’d need a professional understanding of its treatment to gain any real momentum in recovery," Guttman says. "After undergraduate school and the onset of my illness, I evaluated different graduate programs that could serve as a career and mechanism to guide and direct my self-care. After experiencing the helping hand of my social worker and therapist right after my 'break,' I chose social work education because of its robust skill set and foundation of knowledge I needed to heal and help others." "In a world of increasing tragedy, we should help people learn from our lived experiences. My experience brings humility, authenticity and candidness to my practice. People genuinely appreciate candidness when it comes to their health and recovery. Humility provides space for mistakes and appraisal of progress. I thank my lived experience for contributing to a more egalitarian therapeutic experience for my clients."

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