As a therapist-in-training, I was taught to keep my cards close to my chest. Many of my mentors advocated for minimal personal disclosure, suggesting that revealing this type of information could dilute the therapeutic relationship. They instead recommended a neutral stance, a maintenance of what therapists call the “blank screen.”
But, I’m going to shatter that blank screen right now.
I voted for Hillary. And it’s important for my patients to know that I did.
Let me tell you a little bit about my clientele. . . . I see a wide range of individuals and have over the years. Many are women, some of them mothers. A number of them are men and women of color. Many, especially in Miami, where I now practice, are of Latin-American descent. Some are first-generation immigrants, having come to this country as young children or adolescents. An additional, fairly large percentage are members of the LGBTQ community. Some have married same-sex partners. A small portion of my patients have physical disabilities. Many of my patients have experienced sexual assault and trauma as children or as adults. A large percentage of my practice is comprised of individuals who have suffered from serious mental illness, disorders such as major depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, severe substance misuse, and other conditions that have required access to affordable and ongoing mental health treatment.
Almost all of them will be deeply impacted by the results of last night’s election. At stake are their marriages and families, their health insurance and access to treatment, their recovery, and their lives.
There is no way I can support someone on my couch but not out in the world. I can’t offer empathy and compassion devoid of my beliefs and actions outside of the room. I’ve worked for over 15 years helping people to live more authentic lives, and I’d better be sure I’m doing the same.
So, as the dust settles on this election, my patients can know that, regardless of any personal preferences I might have had about any of the candidates, I did my best to do right by them. They can know that I will continue to support them both as a therapist and as a citizen, and that our joint effort toward a brighter, safer, and more inclusive democracy gathers strength and momentum even, and especially, in the shadows.