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I had this idea in my head. Maybe put three pictures up in my office, each representing something important about what I do. Counseling reminder. A touchstone for the eye of sorts. Well, like I said, it was in my head and as I realized one of the three pictures I wasn’t going to be able to get, and the others were certainly copyrighted, the three sort of evolved as I looked for alternatives. So in looking for a different way to go, in my head, we went from three reminders to 96 reminders. It’s why my wife refers to what comes out of my noggin as ‘cumbersome’ on occasion.

So. I am mostly a counselor, but I have also studied and practiced a bunch of other things including cuisine and photography. I always wanted to have an idea why some folks in every field are wildly successful compared to many of their contemporaries, so I always checked a bunch of them out. So, here come 96 people and quotes attributed to them, if there are any – 24 chefs, 24 photographers, 20 people associated with psychology directly, and then 28 none of the above people whose lives or words remind me what to strive towards as a counselor, a counseling business owner, and a general human being. The only problem was stopping. There have been a lot of people who for one reason or another inspire me, lots more names on the potential list but it had to at least pause somewhere, so here we are.

I don’t rightly know if writing these out and posting them will be of any use to anyone else but I’m reasonably sure codifying the whole thing will drive it home for me and hopefully offer some encouragement and centering for our folks. Hope you get something out of one or two of them too.

Frank Pittman

So, in thinking about it, Frank Pittman is likely the least well-known face of my reminders. He is a bit more caustic (real) than most of the public or literary comments from the rest of the people and I think that is why he’s there. He takes the notion of increasing pressure on a decrepit arch to strengthen it (attributed to Viktor Frankl) and strips it bare. He seems to echo what many others have hinted towards without pretense and frosting and I surrendered cake decorating years ago. Here are the words that got him on the list.

“Oh, I think a lot of us therapists are full of crap. We’ve taken on an extraordinarily difficult job. We are operating in an atmosphere of intense pain with people who are in horrible anguish. If we start seeing things the way our patients see them, we’ll end up feeling as bad as they do. Then we would be as paralyzed as they are. We have to be there in the midst of that pain while keeping ourselves sufficiently out of it. We have to maintain our ability to have hope, our ability to do reality testing. It’s very hard work.”

Frank Pittman

“We are trying our hardest to relieve pain. I don’t think we see the errors being made as coming from us because our souls are pure and our intentions are honorable. We really do want to relieve pain but the kind of therapy I do means that at just the right moment I inflict pain. Our jobs are to make people aware they are doing something wrong, that they can do something different…. In my usual arrogance, I see what I’m doing as surgery and what some of the other therapists are doing as massage. They are trying to make people feel better; I’m trying to really bring about some sort of change, to cut something out. And in order to do that, I’m going to have to inflict pain.”
Frank Pittman

“What these massage-like therapists know is that the relationship has got to be comforting and it has to feel safe. That’s not the therapy and that’s not what’s therapeutic, and if you keep people in that position for too long you do them great damage. You drain off their power. You make them dependent on you…. If you are doing strong enough therapy, you’ll piss people off sometimes. Bad therapy is the kind that only comforts and massages. It leaves people with all these emotions and no direction.”
Frank Pittman

“If you are comfortable then you probably are not doing what you should be doing.”
Frank Pittman

When I am more honest than people (sometime even me) might expect at times, if I search my head and heart and am certain it comes from working towards desired change, I appreciate the words of Dr. Pittman. It has become so much easier after years of folks saying #$*^ YOU Tom! But it’s exactly what I needed.


There isn’t much about the guy, but here’s a bit.



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