Professional Distance

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Professional              -                    Layman
Limited                     -                    Unlimited
Defined                     -                    Undefined
Solid                          -                    Liquid


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Unlike the professional nature of counsellor/client relationships typical of Western cultures, Aboriginal people prefer to "just to have a relationship," he says.

"There is no professional/personal dichotomy, which means they are quite happy to come and have a yarn to you in the shops, or catch you on a Saturday to talk things through.

"If you expect to see people pouring in your door at the office, it won't happen. You have to work more flexibly and actually meet people where they feel comfortable, like in a park, or going for a drive or a walk."

[Sarah Ford]
Bridging cultures: psychologists working with Aboriginal clients


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Sean breaches a couple of ethical rules that could get him into serious trouble were he not in a Hollywood movie: he physically assaults his patient in the first session, and he regularly discloses information on the progress of the therapy to Lambeau.

His therapy is highly unorthodox in other ways too. He holds the second session in a park; he ends the fifth session early and angrily sends away his patient because he is frustrated by his ‘bullshitting’ (this would be highly unusual even if he were a Lacanian); he also talks freely and abundantly about his own private life and suffering.

One wonders if these sessions should be viewed as serendipity rather than therapy – an encounter in a special situation between two men with similar roots [...] The treatment takes on the character of true horizontality, and gains an existential quality for both parties.

[Tamás Szabados]
'Good Will Hunting'

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