The Grass is Green Enough Here
I went to a continuing ed. event today, where the presenter asked for volunteers from the audience to be his clients and help demonstrate his therapeutic technique. I have always had mixed feelings about this practice by presenters. On the one hand, we get a birds-eye view of what the therapeutic technique looks like. On the other hand, you never know what sort of volunteer you're going to get. Sometimes you get someone whom you can tell came to this particular seminar in the hopes of getting a free therapy session from such-and-so famous therapist, or worse, someone exhibitionistic who came to get sympathy from a group of her (usually her) peers. Or sometimes, you get someone who is genuinely engaged in the seminar and being altruistic, generous, helpful, in volunteering.
The first time I saw this technique used was shortly after I earned my graduate degree, and it was a distressing, disturbing spectacle. The volunteer was someone who needed much more help than the presenter could provide, and was also someone who fell into the "exhibitionistic" category. And even worse, the presenter was an author of what was then considered the "bible" in its field, but she wasn't a credentialed therapist. She orchestrated a train wreck on the stage, and I don't know what happened to the therapist/client/volunteer. It was truly painful to watch, and ethically atrocious, in my opinion.
Today's presenter was competent, and those who volunteered were doing so out of genuine engagement with the material, and out of altruism, I do believe.
- There was a woman whose young teen daughter had been abducted for a period of several hours, and had kept that a secret for years.
- There was a woman whose daughter had physically abused her son (the daughter's little brother) for years.
- There was a woman whose son was suicidal and currently hospitalized.
- There was a woman whose sister had recently died.
- There was a woman whose husband was deployed to Iraq as her children hit their teens, and his return was causing adjustment problems within the family.
- There was a woman whose husband had been wounded in Iraq, and is being maltreated now by the military. He suffers from depression and inability to support his family financially, now.
These were all the same woman. When she volunteered, I feel certain she didn't know where the demonstration would go and how much a hotel ballroom full of strangers would learn about her. I left feeling like I'm doing OK. The Fairchilds will be OK. I hope the Volunteers will, too.
file under: &Work