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Seeing pictures of my ex-boyfriend's girlfriend on social media never takes me to a good place. I constantly compare myself to her in every way--looks, career, kids, finances, and friends. You name it, and I've compared it! Do you frequently compare yourself to others in real life or on social media? These courses also give the student the chance to look at his own counseling and that carried on by others, as if through a microscope, thanks to the advantages given by electrical recording. General Purpose. Put somewhat more specifically, it is the purpose of the first practicum to give the student as wide a variety of experience as possible in the establishment and maintenance of a therapeutic relationship with clients, short of assuming the full professional responsibility for therapy. The general purpose of the second practicum, which may be repeated for still another quarter of experience, is to give the opportunity for the student to take full responsibility for carrying on therapy with a few individuals, with adequate supervisory assistance always available to him. Because the supervisory process has been recognized as being of crucial importance in these courses, the numbers in the courses have been steadily decreased. At one time twenty-five to thirty were accepted in each group. This number has been cut to twenty, to fifteen, to ten, and there is at present sentiment among the faculty for making it almost an apprentice type of training in which one staff member might work with three to five students intensively over a two-quarter period. In these practicum courses as carried on at present, there is a roughly graded series of available experiences which are described below. Probably no one student has utilized every one of these experiences, but he may engage in as many as are feasible for him. There is no sharp division between the two courses and a student is permitted to move forward as rapidly as he is able. It is too easy to say, Drop your shame, embrace your pride, it will set you free. Because shame is often about survival and protection, you cannot be free so long as the cultural threat remains. No matter how comfortable you become with yourself, it's nearly impossible to filter out the discomfort imposed by the wider world. It's painful to recognize that the society you live in does in fact have power over you. Cultural ideas--about queerness, for example--may limit your job opportunities. They mark you for potential violence.

They may result in social exclusion. The more you understand that valid reasons underlie the shame you feel, the less it controls you and the better you can choose how to protect yourself in a prejudiced world. For some, staying in the closet or otherwise hiding your difference may be the healthiest option. Coming out offers incredible advantages like the increased opportunity for being seen and authentic connection, but also may make you less safe. If so, you're not alone! Dr Leon Festinger, a psychologist well known for his social-comparison theory, found that people have an innate drive to evaluate their abilities and opinions. In fact, by doing so, we gain important information about ourselves like, Am I a good person or a bad person? Do people like me? More specifically, comparisons that let us know how good we are at a particular skill or talent--like running, math, or art--can lead to emotional and personal development by inspiring us and motivating us to improve. Comparing a particular circumstance in our life to someone else--What can I learn from my friend who just landed her dream job? Comparisons can even help us feel better about our decisions and ourselves: I might not be rich like my best friend, but he just went through a bitter divorce, and I'm happily married. Festinger also states that when objective, nonsocial standards for comparisons are unavailable, people will make comparisons with those most similar to themselves in background, age, intelligence, attractiveness, wealth, and success. This means we're most likely to compare ourselves to our friends, neighbors, colleagues, family members, and, not surprisingly, virtual friends we follow when nonsocial standards aren't available or appropriate. For example, when I was in my yoga class, I did not compare myself to the experienced and well-trained yoga instructor. Hence he may carry full responsibility for a therapeutic case in his first practicum course if he is ready, though this is intended as an opportunity primarily available in the second practicum. Because of this fluidity, and because there is overlap in the opportunities available, the whole range of experiences is described below in sequence. It should be understood that those given first are more likely to be a part of the first practicum, while the later elements tend to come in the second. Role-taking and Simple Interviewing. Role-taking has been found to be a very useful elementary procedure. Students are encouraged to take the role of someone whom they know well, and talk out some of the problems of this person, with another student acting as counselor.

As described, this device may seem artificial, but it develops a surprising amount of reality and at times can become just as real for the counselor as actual therapy. The most significant utilization of this procedure has been for the instructor to play the role of a client -- often some client with whom he is currently working, so that he can take the role vividly -- while a student acts as counselor. This counseling may be carried on either in front of the group, in order to provide material for discussion, or with the individual student in private. It has proved to have a great deal of value to the student, and has also helped the instructor to gauge the progress of the student. Of course, the more outsider identities you inhabit, the more complex or hazardous these choices may become. For me, as a privileged white person who's also queer, coming out as queer may be relatively uncomplicated. But for trans Women of Color it's considerably less safe. People still get killed for being queer, disproportionately poor Women of Color, in the United States and elsewhere. I write at least because many cases are unreported. According to the Human Rights Campaign, It is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender Women of Color, and that the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia conspire to deprive them of employment, housing, health care and other necessities. Even while it can be deadly to be trans, I sense a culture shift coming. Genderbending is trending in pop culture these days. Identifying as trans even helps me at times in my role as influencer, giving me enough marginalized status to be viewed as a spokesperson for the marginalized, but with so many privileges that I don't threaten. It's important to me to always remember this and to use my privilege to dismantle the unfairness I benefit from. However, the danger in all comparisons is their potential to produce what's known as upward comparisons and downward comparisons, both of which have a big impact on our well-being and self-esteem. First, let's unpack what exactly upward comparisons and downward comparisons are and how they impact our emotional health and self-esteem. What Are Upward Comparisons? Upward comparisons are made when we compare ourselves to people we believe are better than or superior to us. For instance, we might believe an acquaintance is more attractive or more financially successful than we are. Not surprisingly, upward comparisons can hurt our self-confidence by triggering deep-seated feelings of resentment, envy, and shame.

Upward comparisons can contribute to or exacerbate depression and anxiety and can even sabotage our relationships. What Are Downward Comparisons? Conversely, downward comparisons happen when we make comparisons with others we believe to be inferior or less than us. Downward comparisons can boost self-image and enhance self-esteem because they produce feelings of superiority over another person. It is a particularly good basis for observing and experiencing the student's attitudes as they operate in therapy. When the instructor-client says to the student, I felt as though you were thinking so hard about what you were doing that you weren't too much interested in me, or I felt as if you were telling me what my attitudes were rather than trying to get into this thing with me, such expressions of feeling have real impact. The student is able to learn how he is perceived and experienced by the client, and this learning is a valuable one. From the role-taking experience he can gain almost all the learnings which would come from dealing with an actual client, without, however, being burdened by a feeling of heavy responsibility which might create anxiety. Another way in which role-taking may profitably be used is in relation to problems of professional relationships. How is the student going to handle problems such as these when he has completed his training and is functioning as a therapist; These and other real professional situations may be brought to life through role-playing, thus giving the student an opportunity to think through his handling of them before he actually meets them. The device has the particular advantage of enabling him to see that his therapeutic orientation has something to contribute to his handling of professional relations. It also helps him to see that, in situations in which he is ego-involved, the expression of his own attitudes is what frees him to be understanding of the attitudes of the other person, a point which otherwise he may miss if he thinks only about problems of therapy. Another way in which attitudes and techniques may be put into action, without overweighting the student with responsibility, is through casual interviews. Things may be getting better, but that doesn't change the fact that if you're queer and hold hands with your partner at the movie theater, you could meet with violence, whereas when a straight couple holds hands at the movies, people choose to think How sweet. But it's also true that that act of holding your lover's hand may empower someone struggling with their own identity, who feels less alone after witnessing it. Or maybe your visibility gives hope to a parent wondering if their child can ever feel pride and enter loving partnerships. You just don't know the full impact of your actions. For me, there was a tipping point where the pain of not being seen seemed to outweigh the potential risks associated with visibility. This, in part, motivated me to write this article.

THE NORMALIZATION OF SHAME Some types of cultural shaming are so normalized that we don't even recognize them as shaming. Think about the word obesity. Obesity is a category based on the body mass index (BMI), which, as we saw earlier, is a mathematical equation derived by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by the square of their height in meters. It's not hard to imagine how using downward comparisons as a means for coping with, for example, low self-esteem could damage relationships and inhibit emotional growth. Meet James, an Upward-Comparison Social Media User James is in his early thirties and is the father of an eight-year-old son. He recently separated from his girlfriend of nine years, the mother of his son. In sessions, James often laments over his compulsive need to make upward comparisons. I have a bad habit of comparing myself to other guys and thinking they are so much better than me. When I'm at my son's sports games or at one of his school activities, I automatically start comparing myself to other dads. I compare our appearance, our careers, our homes, our cars, and even our kids' achievements. It's gotten to the point where I get worked up days before I'm supposed to be at an event for my son, and at the event, I get so caught up in negative thoughts that I completely tune out what my son is doing and why I'm there! This is a procedure not without certain disadvantages and risks, but cautiously used it may have value. For example, students have been encouraged to visit patients at an institution for incurables. The visit may be in part simply a friendly chat, yet when emotionalized attitudes are expressed, the student's endeavor to understand deeply and with empathy may permit a constructive and cathartic release. The gravity of the total situation makes it unlikely that the student will be tempted to use his skills as tricks of interviewing, an outcome which otherwise is possible, and which constitutes, in our opinion, training away from therapy rather than for therapy. Counseling of Each Other. One of the most useful early training experiences has been for students to counsel with each other.