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Prejudice, stigma and tolerance.

Depression,Separation/ Divorce — admin @ 3:43 pm

Here at Counselling Connections this week we have been getting up on our soap box. The issues we were discussing were stigma and prejudice. Often in therapy the issues that are covered are historical. These are the life events and relationships that shape us. Our parents, siblings,  family, schoolmates and teachers and our wider communityare all influences that help to shape our personality. We can spend a good deal of time in therapy reflecting on these influences and considering ways to change their ongoing effects.

The stories from our past which we remember and work through in therapy can include incidents where others have taken it upon themselves to criticize or condemn us. These can be hurtful and harmful and depending where we encounter this it can have a major effect on us. This can be worked on in therapy. Sometimes this criticism can be because of prejudice and it can be current. It is this which we want to address today. For all that we can work with these issues in therapy they also reflect the society in which we live.

We wonder if our highlighting these issues can help towards making life a little more bearable by encouraging a little tolerance where we find difference. And this seems to be important to the kinds of things which we come across in our work. Even though it’s the twenty first century and social norms have changed a great deal we still come across examples where clients are stigmatised and discriminated against. It might seem like we are talking about things that belong to previous decades but we find that these things are still happening in 2011.

When you make the decision to get married and commit yourself to another you expect that it will last for life in line with the vow. You don’t expect that the relationship will come apart and end in separation or divorce. Nobody expects to encounter a period of depression or even repeated periods of it through life. Many people struggle greatly with the process of facing up to their own sexual orientation. In all of these things the support of family, friends, colleagues and community can be a huge force for good. It is that force for good which we would like to appeal for today.

If you take tolerance to its ultimate conclusion it would mean that we must show some understanding of those who hold views that are in opposition to our own. The balance that we are trying to find is between holding firm views and the harm that expressing or attempting to enforce these views might cause. Our appeal is for understanding of those who may be gay or lesbian; who may be trying to establish a second relationship after a marriage has ended or those attempting to put their lives together after a period of depression. Our plea is simple. It is to show a little understanding and tolerance and not to stand in the way of someone trying to become the person they want to be.

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