Dr. John Peteet: Modeling the Therapeutic Role

Alan with John Peteet, Susan,Last year (July 11, 2014) I wrote about being dazzled by Dr. Harold Koenig’s presentation on the correlation between religion and mental health at Pine Rest’s William Van Eerden Lecture series, but yesterday I was blown away by experiencing first hand the painful, productive process of observing a world-class psychiatrist modeling a clinician’s role in therapy. Dr. John Peteet The topic was “Spirituality and Mental Health: What is the Clinician’s Role?” But, Dr. Peteet didn’t give us the answer…or even a string of pearls that he’s discovered throughout his long and illustrious career as a psychiatrist (and associate professor at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry). Discussion during lectureInstead, he modeled for us what he wanted us to learn: How to help the client (that was us yesterday) think through the issues, share together (our own rather huge psychotherapy group), grapple with our insufficiency as all-knowing therapists, find the ability to be comfortable with silence, discover what the questions are for which we need to seek answers, and feel humbled. It would have been much more intellectually satisfying to have come away with pages of notes full of “answers,” but it was profoundly helpful to experience the reality that trying to develop a therapeutic relationship isn’t about knowing answers, it’s about having enough insight to humbly ask helpful questions and then waiting…quietly…to let the person find the right solution for himself. Amen. Sounds simple, but it feels super hard. My prayer is that I learn a little bit about how to do this and become a better friend! Alan introducing Dr. Peteet(By the way, Pine Rest has been offering a free seminar concerning the relationship between mental health and spirituality every summer, and if you’re interested, I’m sure you could get details about the “William Van Eerden Lecture Series” on the Pine Rest website. However, I have to warn you that they cap the audience at 250, and it’s first come, first served, so you’d probably have to make a reservation as soon as the invitation is published. I signed up the first day, and I know there was a waiting list before long!)

Alan and Ted“Ointment and perfume delight the heart, and the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel” (Proverbs 27:9).

2 responses to “Dr. John Peteet: Modeling the Therapeutic Role

  1. So well put, Kathy! So good to be with you! Thanks for the picture and caption! Ted

    • There was never a time you spoke at our chapel’s communion service that I didn’t learn something and thank God for you! Blessings, dear brother!

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