Our nation is mentally ill… we need a new conversation on mental health, folks!
Mass shootings, daily unnoticed violence everywhere, un-neighborly neighborhoods, poor health delivered by the most expensive health care system in the world, the divide between the haves and have nots expanding, and so on…
We are in dire need of new conversations and new solutions.
I am a psychotherapist who is part of a community of therapists, clients, activists who are committed to offering high quality, humane therapy services for all.
We are Social Therapists. We create therapeutic communities for emotional and social growth.
The conventional conversations we hear in the institutional halls of mainstream psychology and mental health treatment centers do not sufficiently explore traditional assumptions of what mental health is and how to treat it. The norm has been to place emphasis on the individual who “has something inside that is wrong” and to underemphasize the fact that individual people are a part of a social fabric in a world that is not well.
Typical conversations we hear in the media on mental health tend to focus on ensuring greater access to services, without sufficiently attending to the quality and kind of care people might receive once access is improved.
Social therapists do not view mental health as a medical dilemma, but rather, as a cultural, social, and developmental task of supporting people to grow emotionally and relationally. We take the “do not stigmatize/do no harm” posture very seriously, and will not relate to other humans as broken, or label them as mentally ill. We reject the conventional medical model Doctor/Patient hierarchy. We also reject diagnostics and the goal of getting “maladjusted” people to “adjust.” Interestingly, this creates space for both client and therapist to partner together in shaping the help clients’ needs and wants. This approach helps clients develop as leaders and creators of their lives.
The devastation of poverty, discrimination, stigmatization, and marginalization of people who are struggling in a world that is not well is of great concern to the Social Therapy community.
We practice a group therapy approach where clients are helped by partnering with one another and with the therapist to develop emotionally. Clients are active participants of the therapy and are supported to be builders of their lives. In this way, we differ from conventional therapies, have a different approach to the whole concept of what mental health is, and how to develop health in our world.
You can’t solve problems using the same tools that helped to create them. Question the status quo. Ask new questions. Do something new with others. Our nation… our communities need our help.
Jennifer Bullock, M.Ed., M.L.S.P., LPC | The Philadelphia Social Therapy Group