Do psychiatrists ever work with psychologists

Partnerships of psychotherapists: divorce rate slightly increased


Although psychotherapists are “relationship experts,” they do not have better marriages than others. Relationship problems are often taboo.

Psychotherapists are usually relationship experts. Over many years they learn and practice how to approach people, how to gain their trust and sympathies, how to listen to them and how to become one
empathizes with them. They also know how to get other people to open up and address conflict-ridden topics. These skills and knowledge should actually also be reflected in private life, for example in partnerships. If this were the case, psychotherapists would not be wrong when choosing a partner, their relationships would be stable and harmonious. Psychotherapists, however, are not superhumans, despite their professional "priorities". They too have problems in their partnerships, and the divorce rate is - at least this is the case for American psychotherapists - even slightly higher than that of the general population.
Often an avoidant attachment style
In order to understand why even relationships of relationship experts can fail, one needs to look more closely at their biographies and socialization. Many psychotherapists are first-born or only children who were confronted with parental problems at an early age. Because of this, as children they had to take responsibility for the family atmosphere and behave like a father, mother, partner or confidante towards their parents; In doing so, they learned to be sensitive and empathetic, to have patience and to give emotional support. For many psychotherapists, these behavioral patterns that are practiced at an early stage shape their later career choices, in some cases also the choice of partner, for example by courting needy partners. In such partnerships, psychotherapists can once again assume the familiar roles of parent, superior, and helper, which is an essential source of their identity and self-esteem. This may be an ideal constellation for psychotherapists' partners in need of support, but more independent partners may have their difficulties with it.
The attachment style is also shaped in childhood. A study that was carried out at Bielefeld University and in which 86 experienced therapists took part came to the result that most of them were characterized by few acceptance problems, great openness, but a low need for closeness and attention. The researchers interpreted these characteristics as expressing an avoidant attachment style. Only 20 percent of therapists were classified as securely bound in this study. Thus the attachment style of therapists can also be an explanation for their relationship problems.
The mental health and workload of psychotherapists may also play a role. Sensitive, individualistic people who are psychologically vulnerable and who have been psychologically injured or traumatized in their past often choose the profession of psychotherapist. On the one hand, this predestines them for dealing with mentally ill people, because they empathize in a special way and can understand the problems of their patients; on the other hand, these "wounded healers" try to help themselves through their specialist knowledge, which, if not successful, can be dramatic Can have an impact. For example, psychiatrists are more likely to suffer from suicidality and serious drug problems than other doctors. "This suggests that 'psycho' practitioners themselves are not infrequently psychologically unstable, which generally increases the risk of divorce and partnership problems," says Dr. phil. Kirsten von Sydow, psychologist and private lecturer at the University of Duisburg-Essen.
Exposed to high psychological stress every day
Like other helper professions, the job of psychotherapist brings with it special occupational stresses, such as burnout, which can manifest itself, among other things, in chronic exhaustion, internal dullness as well as alcohol and drug abuse. In addition, psychotherapists have to come to terms with the isolation provided by the therapeutic framework, and they are often confronted with serious problems, suicidal intentions, hostile feelings, projections and demotivation of their patients. Even stable psychotherapists are sometimes exhausted in the face of such stress and no longer feel able to listen carefully to their partner. As soon as they are free, they want to be alone; they withdraw and perhaps overlook the fact that the partner feels personally set back and is offended as a result. Maybe he's jealous of them too
Patients to whom the psychotherapist devotes a lot of attention and to whom he gives priority.
Although many psychotherapists try to separate professional and private life from one another and want nothing to do with their profession in their free time, they are not always consistent in doing so. According to a survey conducted at Columbia University in the early 1980s, 75 percent of psychotherapists do occasional psychotherapy in private situations, and 40 percent also interact with family members in a therapeutic or analytical manner. For the partners of psychotherapists, this can mean that every impulse in life is diagnosed, interpreted and analyzed for deficits without being asked. In addition, the partners are confronted with therapeutic techniques in their everyday life, for example with psychological questions and jargons, with diagnostic criteria or with distancing themselves from their own feelings. The partly conscious, partly un-
Deliberate use of therapeutic techniques by the psychotherapist can make the partner feel that they are not being heard, dissected or devalued, which in turn annoys them and at the same time makes them helpless.
These findings concern partnerships between psychotherapists and non-psychotherapists. But partnerships between two psychotherapists - 15 percent of psychotherapists are married to a colleague - do not go smoothly either. Avoiding reciprocity is problematic in these relationships. The partners tend to either infantilize or parentalize; an equal relationship does not come about, or only rarely.
Psychotherapists hardly manage to deal with their private partnership problems. According to Kirsten von Sydow, psychotherapists have high demands on their partnership, love art and relationship skills, and they are also under high pressure from their environment. They all assume that relationship experts have an advantage through their training and also use it. The fact that their partnerships still fail - as with other people too - offends and dismisses psychotherapists in a very special way. They suffer from deep shame, feelings of failure, embarrassment and a narcissistic insult that makes them doubt their personal and professional relationship skills. However, since they often find it difficult to admit problems and show feelings and needs, they rarely seek professional help. Only 15 percent of US therapists have ever seen couples therapy.
However, the problem constellations described are not intended to give the impression that a partnership with a psychotherapist only has negative sides. There are also many positive ones. For example, partners report a deeper psychological awareness and interesting intellectual and emotional stimuli from the psychotherapist profession. The psychotherapist's introspection, communication and sensitivity skills can also be advantageous for a partnership. And also the specific knowledge, the training and the work in practice can be seen as resources for a lasting and happy relationship. Dr. phil. Marion Sonnenmoser

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Partnerships of psychotherapists: divorce rate slightly increased

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