Most psychological research shows that men and women consistently focus on personal relationships as the source of emotional pain. It is not hard to imagine that romantic relationships are among the top reasons people seek psychotherapy and counselling supports. Marriages, extra-marital affairs, consensual sexual arrangements, long-term committed partnerships and more are common causes of emotional pain when something goes awry. Relationships at work are also reported as troublesome and emotionally painful, but not the topic of focus in this blog.
Many famous people in politics and hollywood have had to endure the consequences of personal adult decisions in public. Perhaps, this is the cost of fame albeit negatively impactful on the lives of innocent family members also affected by revelations, especially where previously shrouded in secrecy.
Our own Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau’s political campaign was shadowed by the ghost of his father’s past. Pierre’s mature post-marital partnership with Deborah Coyne resulted in the birth of Sarah Elisabeth Coyne when Justin was 19 years old. In 1991, the then modern adult and consensual relationship was viewed as mutually caring and respectful. In fact, the decision to reserve the Trudeau surname for his three surviving sons seemed to be a progressive and thoughtful tribute to his own life as Prime Minister with Margaret and their young family. It cast Deborah in an equally progressive and respectful light acknowledging the mature nature of decision-making in her own romantic relationship with Pierre.
The interesting twist of Deborah’s decision to run as the leader of the Liberal Party at the same time as Justin was confusing to many. Certainly, her lifelong interest in law and politics, and her personal commitment to build a better Canada stands for itself. The manner in which the Canadian Press reported her political decisions was respectful in comparison to the humiliating tone used in politics by neighbours to our South. Canadian politics pales in comparison to the mean and sometimes viscious politics of our American neighbours.
Notwithstanding, a media analysis of the public treatment of the Deborah and Sarah Coyne would likely reveal layers of misogyny, gender-based bias and prejudice. From a psychotherapeutic perspective, I am reminded about the ways that emotional pain trickles down to people outside the intimate space of the bedroom where many of these adult decisions are made. Ironically, Pierre rose to fame in part by his declaration that “there is no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.” His spontaneuos eloquence so easily summarized the sentiments of the time, and established a much-needed boundary between the personal & the public.
It is in this boundary between the personal and public that intrigues the work of a psychotherapist who regularly straddles this navigational space with clients in careful and deliberate ways. Certainly, adults have rights to engage in consensual decisions that best meet their personal needs. It is the psychological, social, and emotional impacts of personal adult decisions that may cause emotional pain for many years. Currently referred to as “collateral damage” in therapeutic circles, there are rippling effects to personal decisions for which you may not be prepared down the road.
Accessing a Clinical Supervisor to assist navigating this emotional space between the private and public, especially where other people involved including children may be hurt. Clinical supervision is an important step to ensure that your personal prejudices, biases, and values are explored while working on cases at hand. You may be triggered by work with individual clients actively engaged in an extra-martial affair, ethical non-monogamy, poly-amorous relationships, or casual sex. Romatic mores have changed sinced the 1970’s, but emotional pain has not.
In person counselling remains an essential service to individuals, couples, and families who carry their own personal pain, and perhaps, the residual emotional pain inherited from older adults and family members. Take your time and find the right therapist for you today.
Sunny dispositions deserve to shine!!!!
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