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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Normal vs. Healthy

 

Page 19 of The REBT Therapist’s Pocket Companion addresses the notion that many Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) clients likely believe they’re attending therapy to become “normal”— conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern: characterized by that which is considered usual, typical, or routine.

 

Although it may be unpopular to state within certain enclaves of modern society, there is in fact a specification of normality in the field of mental, emotional, and behavioral health care. A simple demonstrable can effectively address this point.

 

First, suppose you’re in a room with nine other people and you take a poll regarding how many left-handed individuals are present. Only one of 10 people are left-handed, which is apparently in accordance with global statistics.

 

Without determining any values-based judgment or drawing moral inferences from the assessment, the left-handed person is the abnormal data point in comparison to other people who are polled. Again, this doesn’t mean the person is bad, wrong, evil, or otherwise—though simply abnormal in one area of measurement.

 

Second, envision that you’re in a large room with 221 other adults present and you take a poll to see how many people have been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Only one of 222 people meets this criterion, which is reportedly in accordance with global statistics.

 

The person with schizophrenia is the abnormal data point and this doesn’t mean that the individual is disgusting, dangerous, or dishonest. It merely suggests that of the people assessed, the one person with schizophrenia is abnormal among the group.

 

Lastly, presume that you are one of the 21 million United States adult citizens who have experienced a major depressive episode. Among the estimated 334,233,854 people in this country at the beginning of January 2023, your data point isn’t normal.

 

Of course, your abnormal qualifier tells me very little about your character, whether or not you’re a trustworthy person, or if you’re somehow inferior to any other individual. Rather, it only describes a condition—whether episodic or chronic—and that’s about it.

 

Sticking with the depression example, and let’s suppose that you have chronic depression, imagine that you seek REBT treatment with me. In interest in alignment with your goal, you want to no longer be abnormal.

 

You maintain that you shouldn’t, mustn’t, or oughtn’t to ever again experience depressive episodes. Here, you aren’t seeking management or treatment of your symptoms; though full resolution of your condition, because you think it’s unhealthy to experience depression.

 

I would manage your treatment expectations by speaking truth to you. I’d say that I can help you to stop disturbing yourself about having depression. I’d also suggest that I can help you to get better by teaching techniques that can reduce the impact of your symptoms.

 

However, I’m not a miracle worker who can completely eradicate your condition, fix you, or guarantee that you will never again experience a depressive episode. I don’t offer to reverse abnormality, though I can help people become healthy—that which is conducive to or associated with better health.

 

Generally, I invite clients to consider that I aim to help them achieve a higher level of functioning and improved quality of life. As an example, you may experience the inability to socialize due to your mood.

 

Improved functioning would result in altered behavior to where you can interact with others. Because of your elevated measure of health (functioning), you then experience a subjective impression of self-worth, desire to continue progressing with your health, and contentment (quality of life).

 

Page 19 of The REBT Therapist’s Pocket Companion encourages REBT practitioners to promote the notion that “normal’ and ‘healthy’ are very often different.” I promote a standard of health, not elimination of abnormality.

 

While I can’t necessarily make a left-handed person become right-handed, or influence a person with schizophrenia or depression to never again experience symptomatic conditions, I can help improve one’s mental, emotional, and behavioral health. Is this something in which you’re interested?

 

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

 

As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

 

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

 

 

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW

 

 

References:

 

Dryden, W. and Neenan, M. (2003). The REBT Therapist’s Pocket Companion. Albert Ellis Institute. ISBN 0-917476-26-3. Library of Congress Control Number: 20031044378

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/disclaimer

Hollings, D. (2023, September 8). Fair use. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/fair-use

Hollings, D. (2023, October 12). Get better. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/get-better

Hollings, D. (2023, December 26). Happiness is a trap. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/happiness-is-a-trap

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/

Hollings, D. (2024, January 2). Interests and goals. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/interests-and-goals

Hollings, D. (2023, September 19). Life coaching. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/life-coaching

Hollings, D. (2023, April 26). Managing expectations. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/managing-expectations

Hollings, D. (2023, October 2). Morals and ethics. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/morals-and-ethics

Hollings, D. (2023, April 24). On truth. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/on-truth

Hollings, D. (2022, March 25). Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/rational-emotive-behavior-therapy-rebt

Hollings, D. (2022, November 1). Self-disturbance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/self-disturbance

Hollings, D. (2022, October 7). Should, must, and ought. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/should-must-and-ought

Koskie, B. and Raypole, C. (2023, October 31). Depression facts and statistics. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/facts-statistics-infographic

Moore, D. (2022, December 29). U.S. population estimated at 334,233,854 on Jan. 1, 2023. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2022/12/happy-new-year-2023.html

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Handedness. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handedness#cite_note-bul0000229-7

World Health Organization. (2022, January 10). Schizophrenia. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/schizophrenia

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