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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

The Client's New Clothes



As a child, I enjoyed Hans Christian Andersen’s tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Summarizing the fable, one source states:


Hans Christian Andersen’s emperor loved his newest outfit made for him by two dishonest, traveling tailors. Made of magical cloth, the clothes could be seen only by those worthy of their positions. All the people of the kingdom cheered as the emperor paraded on his birthday, even though they could not see the new outfit. One child, however, smiled and said, “The emperor is not wearing any clothes!” The emperor was embarrassed, the swindlers fled the town with the gold and an important lesson was learned: “True wisdom means listening to those who speak the truth, not flattery.”


As an adult, I consider the story as a metaphor regarding how I practice Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). Allow me to explain.


Think of a human’s natural state as a form of nudity. While there’s perhaps nothing inherently bad, wrong, evil, or otherwise with nudity, there are a number of reasons why prancing around in one’s birthday suit while sharing communal spaces with others may be unhelpful.


Depending on where one lives, environmental elements may present a significant challenge to one’s natural state of being. As an example, in freezing weather a person without proper clothing may develop frostbite.


Also, there are individuals within society that may be more prone to preying on others who are irrationally perceived as inviting unwanted attention. Walking through the streets of one’s city in the nude may be mistaken as an offer for sexual advances which could result in rape, sexual assault, or sexual harassment.


While I could list other examples, I won’t belabor the point. The important takeaway is that one’s natural state of nudity is a default experience of life and may not be appropriate in a number of settings.


In this same way, I posit that a human’s default condition is the experience of automatic irrational beliefs. Even in an unconscious state, such as that which occurs during sleep, we use irrational assumptions regarding ourselves, others, and life as a whole.


There is nothing inherently shameful, lousy, terrible, or otherwise about the experience of irrational attitudes. All the same, behaving in an unhelpful manner that stems from the existence of these beliefs may present a significant challenge within an orderly society.


For instance, if your natural state of being is to unreasonably demand that others shouldn’t, mustn’t, or oughtn’t to take issue with your decision to walk through your local mall while wearing little more than a smile, you may not like the consequences of your belief or actions.


Although your natural state of irrational assumptions is a default experience of life, it may not be appropriate in a number of settings. Therefore, and unlike the dishonest tailors in “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” I practice REBT with others as a means of metaphorical garment-making.


Nudity and self-disturbance are the natural states of life. Clothing is artificial, as is rational thinking. While none of these elements is necessarily good or bad, some of these conditions may serve you better than other states of being.


In your natural state, it may not be productive to behave in a manner that isn’t going to serve your interests and goals. Consequently, I help people find suitable clothing in the form of rational beliefs which are more appropriate than their default experience.


At first, new clothing of this sort may be uncomfortable. A shirt may be too itchy or pants may be a bit too tight. However, the more one wears the clothing and becomes accustomed to an artificial alternative to irrational living, the more comfortable one may become with results of this helpful change.


Moreover, and unlike the emperor who allowed himself to be fooled into a parade of nudity, you can take control of your behavior by putting on clothing and venturing into public. Are you currently searching for a new metaphorical tailor—one who can help you get better through examination of truth and not merely help you feel better by praising your apparent nudity?


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




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DCMP. (n.d.). The Emperor’s New Clothes. Described and Captioned Media Program. Retrieved from

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