In her doctoral thesis in psychology Pirjo Lehtovuori examined the significance of personal attributes of a psychotherapist in terms of successful outcome of psychotherapy. Differences in psychotherapists often influence the experienced benefit of psychotherapy. Evaluating the attributes of psychotherapists is a practice that should spread across the field of social and health sector. Educational background of the caregiver obviously matters but their personality factors influence the way they use their professional know-how in the care relationship. In mental health work the ability of the caregiver to empathize and detach are determining factors in the way the patient experiences they have been treated and cared for. Traumatization happening inside the care system is a taboo waiting to be shattered.
A friend of mine is a student of social studies. She asked me to help with an assignment about mental health work. The assignment was to first read all of the related Käypä hoito –recommendations and then write an essay about how to face a patient of two different mental health disorders such as anxiety. I asked how long should the essay be. More than one page, she said. My friend stated that either she has completely misinterpreted the assignment or then mental health work is so complex that she is unable to understand it. After an inspirational conversation I urged my friend to turn in an essay that is less than one page basically saying: “A person with anxiety disorder should be faced like any other person. They are greeted in a polite matter, asked to come in and to tell what’s on their mind. The therapist should be willing to listen and to sincerely hear the answer.”