15 February 2018

Players, Captains, and Coaches

When you’re working for a company and in the midst of a project, it can be difficult to find your place or your role, despite already having a title (graphic designer, product manager). You see yourself among others, sometimes angling against their expectations, other times against your own. We all (literally) come from different backgrounds, families, schools, cultures, and no matter that we achieved a particular grade or honour when we come into the working world — particularly onto a career path that is of our choosing — those accomplishments can seem very far away (or somehow no longer relevant), particularly when we are in the midst of a performance-oriented environment.

What is your place here?

I like to use an analogy using a sports team. On a team you have players, captains, and coaches. It might seem immediately like a hierarchy, and yet appearances are deceiving.

Players: we gush for Players, the good ones at least. The work of Players is the first to be seen; they are on the ground and on full display, taking the orders of the Coach (via the Captain) and running with it. Success is ultimately measured in how well Players are organized, how well they work with one another, and the recognition and development of their skill. Within a company they are the ultimate manifestation of the company’s mandate.

Captains: (note: I realize this role doesn’t apply to all sports, but it certainly applies to hockey, soccer, rugby, and basketball) Captains have it hard: they are Players but held to a higher standard, but they aren’t Coaches; they need to be mindful of the context for whatever direction they have to impart to Players. Captains are rarely architects. While Captains might have some say in which Players stay and who go, they are saddled with supervising the performance of the team, and the results often sit squarely on their shoulders.

Coaches: coaches are seen but largely not heard. While they are often the architects of success (or failure) their efforts are distributed widely (and thus obscured) through Players (often disseminated via the Captain). Coaches are on the sidelines, not because they necessarily want to be but because — if they are wise — they will outsource and delegate tasks to those who have the specialties to deliver while they focus on the big picture: the next campaign, the next project, the next paradigm.

We might compare Players with Staff, Captains with Management, and Coaches with Owners (or “C-Suite”). Each level is vitally important and success depends upon the whole, working together, and communicating effectively.

What’s the point of this analogy? Often we can feel lost in our workplace, and — whether big or small — sometimes our workplace doesn’t make it easy to find a point of reference in order for us to orient ourselves in lieu of direction. Sometimes positions (particularly managerial) are given as promotions without a clear understanding of what those roles entail.

As well as with individuals and couples working through mental and emotional health issues, I am also happy to work with business leaders and management in order to create a more cohesive perspective on hard-to-solve issues in the workplace.

  If you are interested in learning more about my services, about me, or perhaps booking an appointment, please call me at 416-873-7828 or email me at info@downtowntherapy.ca for more information.

filed under: businesscorporateperfectionismsocializationsocietystresssuccesswork

29 January 2018

Social Justice & Psychotherapy

Over the last couple of years, we have seen a groundswell of movement in Canada and the United States towards recognizing issues affecting the equitable treatment of certain groups of people in our society. Some of these groups are affected because of their race, others because of socio-economic, cultural, or gender-related factors. The rebuilding of ties to these communities — integrating them equitably into mainstream society and recognizing their mistreatment would define the work of “social justice.” It’s complicated work. Complicated namely because we are beginning to widely understand how structural power affects progress; when historically under-represented portions of the population are not included in the decision-making process it’s harder for them to find recognition, let alone a sense of justice. An example of this complexity would be so-called “diversity panels” — ostensibly to converge on the topic of inclusion and representation with the goal of finding solutions — comprised entirely of white (typically male) panelists; there is the veneer of progress (“diversity”), yet in fact, by virtue of no space actually being made for the under-represented, it’s progress in a vacuum.

That vacuum has been opened more and more lately, and we are beginning to see new faces — women, POC individuals, members of the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants from non-Western countries — in positions of power and influence. For the first time, under-represented members of society have the opportunity to see a reflection of themselves in roles of authority.

So, how do social justice issues intersect with psychotherapy? How is it even relevant, you may ask. Recognition, for one example. On behalf of the therapist, an understanding — whether through lived experience or education (or, as often the case, a bit of Door A and a bit of Door B) — of where society has come from, and how certain groups have been historically mistreated. On behalf of the client, there may be many struggles, ranging from fighting the feeling that they are an outsider to the system, to guilt that they have succeeded while so many others have been denied access. It’s also possible for some clients to recognize their privilege to such a degree that, somewhat ironically, they internalize this as a reason to deny their needs (often in conjunction with other issues).

In my practice, I recognize the complexity of identity, how while it may be rooted by ethnicity, culture, religion, race, or gender identity — at the end of the day we are complex individuals and not just the outcome of what we are born and/or raised with. As a therapist it’s important for me to listen. As someone sensitive to social justice issues, it’s incumbent on me to listen a little more closely without losing sight of the individual.


  If you are interested in learning more about my services, about me, or perhaps booking an appointment, please call me at 416-873-7828 or email me at info@downtowntherapy.ca for more information.

filed under: general infopsychotherapyraceselfsocietyUncategorizedwomen