Should you always tell the truth?

by Nathan Chua

Before I even begin talking about this touchy issue, I would like you, my readers to know, that I fully respect all opinions to the contrary of what I will share with you here. Like many other things, there are simply no easy answers to the problems we face negotiating through life’s vicissitudes.

Truth-telling can be tricky when we talk about it within certain contexts. More common among these situations where people struggle between being transparent or not, are instances of infidelity, or giving the dire news about someone’s imminent death. There are those, especially from some religious groups, that advocate for total transparency, that the old saying, “What they don’t know, won’t hurt them,” is unconscionable or unfair.

However, like most things in life that do not have easy answers, many also believe that telling the truth about a terminal disease or an affair may prove to be detrimental. In the case of an affair, there are studies cited that it is more likely for male partners to leave a relationship when they are the offended party. The revelation of a terminal disease may prove life-enhancing to one, but despairing to another.

I guess, the stand here is no different from what I have believed to be the best practice in therapy, which is to let the suffering individual, make his or her own decisions based on the prevailing circumstances. For it is the client who knows more about the people involved and the surrounding circumstances, than the therapist.

Frederick Humphrey, Professor Emeritus of Family Studies at the University of Connecticut refers to therapists who, by their influence or stature, encourage or even push their patients to truth-telling, as “Verbal exhibitionists.”

I often meet clients who treat me as some sort of expert in their lives, like I knew something about them that they didn’t already. These types of questions put tremendous pressure on a therapist. I often recuse myself from answering such questions, for it is in my opinion, the clients who are most equipped to provide such answers for themselves.

As in other things in life, there is always an option to keep a secret, a secret. There may also be instances when truth-telling can be liberating and useful to a relationship. But one thing I can guarantee for people who see me to seek advice on what to do, I will allow you to make decisions of your own liking, based on what is best for you, and the people around you.

What brings back the love in a relationship?

by Nathan Chua

As I join couples and families in their efforts to improve their lives together, I am beginning to see the wisdom in employing an old marketing slogan from a popular sports brand, “Just do it.” Much of the struggles that couples experience is not that they don’t love each other anymore, but they seem to have lost the ability to feel loved, or be loving.
There are many instances wherein couples think that they have to feel something, to do something. How can I be loving if I don’t feel like it? Unfortunately, the more a couple waits for the feelings to come, the more time is spent on waiting for something that needs acting upon.
This is probably one of the instances when acting or behaving a certain way, comes before the feelings of love. One only needs to go back to the courtship days, when each wants to outdo the other in expressing love. Even if you didn’t like to do certain things, you would do it to win the affections of the other. We do it to bring feelings of love.
So what should couples do to make them fall in love again? Just do it even if you don’t feel like it. No matter how wasteful you think buying those flowers is for your partner, just do it. No matter how much you don’t like expressing words of appreciation or tenderness, just do it.
Another common objection to this idea, is that people often feel it’s faking it to be someone you thought you have not been for so long. “It would feel fake if I were to change into a kinder, more appreciative and transparent person,” as many would say. Well, we can turn this statement around by saying that what you or others have considered to be your personality or style of relating, maybe just you faking it. The real you, is the one who wants to be more expressive, and who wants to act more consistently with how you feel inside. That self has been in hiding because of being hurt or shamed in the past, by the people you entrusted those genuine feelings and desires to.
Just remember you’re doing it because you want to keep the feelings of love. And if the law of averages applies, you will most likely receive the same loving acts in return. Furthermore, just do it because this may be the real you, who has been hidden from sight for so long…for that real you may turn out to be the better, more likable you.

Who do you look for to get help?

by Nathan Chua

One frequent inquiry I get is about which psychologist or counselor one should look for, when faced with emotional or psychological problems. I think there is enough confusion around, that compels a discussion about the different specializations available in such a broad field like psychology.

For this post, I will focus on three distinct, but nonetheless related fields in psychology, which are frequently the subject of inquiry. These are clinical psychology, psychiatry and counseling psychology. There are many more areas of learning in psychology that I just don’t have the space to discuss in one short blog. Please note that I am talking from the perspective of someone who works and lives in the Philippines. Some of my descriptions about the way these three are practiced, may be unique to the country.

Counseling Psychology

This is a field where social workers and counselors with master’s degrees would specialize in the Philippines. Some counselors are not just involved in talk therapy or counseling, but they can also give psychological tests as well. They can work in various organizations. A typical example would be a school’s guidance counselor. Others would be involved in hospitals, clinics, rehab centers, religious charities or any organization that is involved in social work. They are not trained to prescribe medication.

Clinical Psychology

Most practitioners in this field are involved in counseling and psychometrics. They are able to do most, if not all, of what counselors and social workers can offer. Of course, this still depends on what the clinical psychologist chooses to specialize in. In the Philippines, clinical psychologists are normally the people who couples approach when they are in the process of annulment.

Psychiatry

This field would have the widest scope. Psychiatrists are trained to do counseling or talk therapy and give tests as well. They are considered medical doctors or MD’s, and are therefore licensed to write prescriptions. Take note again that whether a psychiatrist chooses to engage in other activities like counseling or psychotherapy and psychological testing, is entirely up to him or her. In the Philippines, most psychiatrist specialize in giving prescriptions.

For those who are engaged in talk therapy, psychotherapy or counseling, they would normally have areas of specialization, depending on the segment of the population they feel most competent to work with, and in the theory that guides their practice. There are different perspectives that can be used in talk therapy. Some of them are behavioral, psychodynamic, cognitive and existential. There are quite a few who choose to be eclectic in their approach. This means they use different theories that they feel can be helpful to their clients or patients, who present different concerns to them.

Two Essentials of a Loving Relationship – Video

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