Use My Voice

Use My Voice

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USE MY VOICE
By Evanescence and Deena Jakoub
Featuring: Sharon den Adel, Lindsey Stirling, Lzzy Hale, and Taylor Momsen

Cover my ears and close my eyes
Just long enough to stop the noise
Go on take everything and throw it away
But I will use my voice
Drown every truth in an ocean of lies
Label me bitch because I dare to draw my own line
Burn every bridge and build a wall in my way
But I will use my voice

Whether you like it or not, you’re gonna take what I got
(Oh oh, oh oh oh oh)
If we can’t talk about it, we’ll just keep drowning in it
(Oh oh, oh oh oh oh)
Give me credit or not, I give a lot, give a lot
But don’t you speak for me
(Oh oh, oh oh oh oh)
No, don’t you speak for me

Never mind me, I’m a waste of your time
I’m never gonna fit in the box that you need
And I can read between the lines, yeah
Gather your friends and wave your gun in my face
But I will use my voice

Whether you like it or not, you’re gonna take what I got
(Oh oh, oh oh oh oh)
If we can’t talk about it, we’ll just keep drowning in it
(Oh oh, oh oh oh oh)
Give me credit or not, I give a lot, give a lot
But don’t you speak for me
(Oh oh, oh oh oh oh)
No, don’t you speak for me
Whether you like it or not
Whether you like it or not
Whether you like it or not
Whether you like it or not

One day soon
It’s gonna fall back on you
No more lies
We’re gonna break right through
Like it or not
If we can’t talk about it, we’ll just keep drowning in it
(Oh oh, oh oh oh oh)
Give me credit or not, I give a lot, give a lot
But don’t you speak for me
(Oh oh, oh oh oh oh)
No, don’t you speak for me
(Oh oh, oh oh oh oh)
Don’t you speak for me (whether you like it or not)

As we draw closer to a big election. Huge. The anxieties that have been brewing for the past 4 years are roiling up, as with any major life transition. It’s like we as a nation all have adjustment disorder. The big emotions from the past years come flooding back. Or they never even left us so they are spilling over. Uncertainty feels at its peak for so many of us. It’s a therapeutic and existential question to wonder how to use our voices during this time. The passion and urgency in this video seems to reflect what so many of my clients are feeling.

Overall, I want this blog to be for clients. A place for clients to see themselves reflected in the music and my commentary and questions. When I drafted this post, however, what emerged for me was defining my own voice as a therapist during this time. Where my place is in support of mental health and humanity when major political changes are being asked for or happening.

My sense is that many of my clients wonder about this. When I clarify my role for them, there seems to be more ease and safety in the work they are doing. So here is a little about me and my voice:

Sometime in the last 4 years I wrote an email to a supervisor asking if I was allowed to get arrested for civil disobedience and still keep my job. I remember laughing nervously and questioning reality as I pressed send on that email. Am I really asking this?

Note: I wasn’t planning to take such an aggressive rocker stance as Amy Lee in this video. This video was just the inspiration for this reflection. Aggressive rockers are awesome, but a little off-putting as therapists. My protest vibe, as you might expect, is a little more kumbaya.

Anyway, the supervisor’s response was interesting and gave shape to my sense of who I am as a therapist and as an activist/human. This supervisor assessed that I could get arrested because part of a therapists’ role is to advocate for our clients. So if I was going to get arrested peacefully protesting for the rights of clients I serve, that was probably a fine direction for me to go.

This question and its answer clarified where my boundaries as an apolitical mental health support end, and my obligation to advocate for humanitarian values begin.

As a therapist in many ways there is this apolitical stance that I need to take in order to ensure a safe space for my clients, no matter their background. It would be uncool, to say the least, for a client to come into my office and see any form of endorsing a candidate or even a specific bill. Even if they agreed, it might become a slippery slope that eventually slips us into a hole that distracts from the therapy. Admittedly sometimes what and who I support may slip out – usually in agreement with someone, but I know I need to scramble off that path before it gets icky.

The specifics of my politics don’t belong in my therapy office in the same way that the specifics of how I think it’s best to live my own life don’t belong there either. Because they are specifics. They are the specific size and shape for me, and they don’t fit everyone. That said, the broad strokes of humanity, my insights and promotion of psychological health and human connection, are everything in my therapeutic space. And these broad strokes of values are where we get into activism.

Politics is about the specifics. Activism is about the broad values. To get a little mushier: politics is about action, activism is about love. An activist can totally love you as a human and even accept your difference of opinion, but hope your action plan (political opinion) gets (figuratively) destroyed. Even two people in a relationship can be activists for the same root cause, but have very different political opinions. I see it all the time with my couples.

So as a therapist, every day I am an activist for mental health. Every day I am an activist for increasing empathy and connection. And if there is a situation where a bunch of people are not getting basic empathy and connection, you might see me out with a sign. Don’t worry, I will still pretend I don’t know you, unless you approach me first.

If you’ve worked with me you probably won’t be surprised about the causes I come out for. They are the ones it would be hypocritical both to my clients and myself to not support. They are rallies and vigils recognizing basic human values, and values that ground the field of psychology and mental health.

Clients in therapy often become stronger activists through their work on themselves. In the very least in their own lives, and it’s then common for that to expand to their action in their community. Through therapy we find our voice. We learn that many of the themes and words we discover in the privacy of our sessions are worth expressing to the rest of the world. Therapy uncovers our most authentic and earnest and best selves that send us on a mission to better the world.

So the punchline in the video and in this blog is “Go Vote.” “Go vote” cannot get more activist/apolitical. I don’t care who you vote for, just vote and raise your voice.

Voting is a therapeutic action. You don’t want to miss out whether it’s a victory to which you contributed, or a loss that could have prevented had you (and the collective you) taken action. We can’t control what happens with the collective but we can control the satisfaction that we did our part the best we could do.

Spencer Northey

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